Establishing dominance is a way of survival for dogs. However, for the non-alpha dogs, this situation is stressful and anxiety provoking, which is why they will fight for their food. It is their only way to survive. Despite years of domestication, this instinct is what leads dogs to become aggressive over their dinner.
Since wolves had to fight to make sure they got their share of food, it is possible that food aggression is a natural behavior to which dogs are predisposed. In addition, some dogs are genetically predisposed to be more aggressive or anxious than others, which increases the chances of food aggression.
Food aggression is a form of resource guarding in which a dog becomes very defensive when eating, using threats to force others away. It can be directed towards other animals, humans, or both. The behavior can also extend to treats.
It's also common that both dogs have a very high arousal level. Often, these dogs behave excessively when arousal builds up; it spills out and ends up in a fight. So one important step when working with two dogs that are competing over an owner is lowering arousal when coming home.
How to Deal with Food Aggression between Dogs
Owners are high-value to dogs, so much so that two dogs will compete over an owner's attention more often than they would over a bone, resting spot, or toy. This can become quite an issue if the behavior is allowed.
Dogs fight over toys because they perceive toys as valuable and worthy of protecting from other dogs. Let face it: dogs aren't good in sharing. Dogs can have a variety of toys around them, but for some reason, dogs will always want the toy the other dogs has.
Simply having plenty for everyone to eat doesn't stop many dogs from feeling the need to go postal over noms – especially bones and chews. Just because it's a natural instinct, doesn't mean you should allow your dogs to practice canine-to-canine resource guarding and food aggression in your home.
Cats and dogs both have an inherent animosity towards each other. They are not given an option to choose between love and hate. They will fight until one or the other succumbs or retreats. Cats and dogs living together under the same roof will compete for food, territorial dominance, and attention from its owner.
Flipping is an attempt to cover the food's odor so it won't be sensed and taken away. Dogs are often territorial of their meals because in the wild, food is scarce, and they have to hunt for it. They are often snuck up on and feel the need to protect themselves and their pack while eating so it doesn't get stolen.
Dogs fight for many reasons including resource guarding of territory, toys, or food. Or they might react out of fear. Some dogs go on the offensive when they feel threatened hoping to scare the other dog away.
Food aggression comprises a kind of resource guarding in which a dog becomes very defensive when confronted with others during a meal and resorts to threats to force others away. Food aggression can be directed towards other humans, animals, or both. The behavior is not just limited to feeding times but treats as well.
Dog play fighting is a very natural way for canines to communicate, socialize, and get out some pent-up energy. Play fighting may seem intense, especially for new or relatively inexperienced dog owners, but it should be allowed.
The main reason why cats and dogs fight is because the dog is a predator, and in the dog's mind, the cat is prey. You must observe their behavior. Those that chase with the intent to kill is the behavior you look for that may result in rehoming one of the animals.