Q & A: Food fight

Q: What to do if our older dog takes away our puppy’s treats?

A: For dogs food is a ‘primary resource’, which means that food is really important. The ‘better’ the food tastes to the dog, the ‘higher value’ it has. Receiving treats should be a happy, enjoyable event – something that your dog looks forward to, but what they are learning right now is totally different. Puppy is being forced to guard and defend his treat and older dog is learning to steal food from puppy – the ‘treats’ are creating stress between the dogs. Under these circumstances the relationship between the two dogs will become so strained that it will escalate quickly to all-out aggression.

The solution: get your puppy a crate and crate-train her. When you want to feed the dogs or give them treats, pop the puppy into the crate to feed her or give her treats. This way you will remove all of the stress from the situation. Puppy can eat her food or treat without the threat of the older dog stealing the food or trying to interfere with her. The older dog will feel more comfortable too knowing that puppy won’t be a bother. Seek out the help of a reputable behaviourist to assist you in this.

Lesley de Klerk