Food Fight: Aggressive behaviour over Food

Is your chihuahua displaying aggressive behaviour over food?

How to stop a food fight!

Chihuahuas can be territorial and protective over resources. Is your chihuahua displaying aggressive behaviour over food?  Here are some tips that can help.

We have some strange behaviour from our chihuahuas when it comes to mealtimes. Minnie, being lower in the pack will generally gobble anything you put in front of her.

Mika, being the alpha dog never hurries his food. He will saunter over to check out what Minnie has, do a few yoga stretches before completing a perimeter check. If all is to his liking he will eat his food.

But other times he will guard food, stiffening his body, hovering over it, snarling and curling his lip and Minnie will take a submissive stance and let him have first dibs. But strangely he then takes a chunk and runs off to eat it in a ‘safe place’ leaving the prize open for Minnie to dig in while his back is turned!

If you have a lot of dogs, mealtimes can become quite fraught, with snarling, resource guarding and in some case full on fighting.

Dinner Timing is Everything

Your dog is hardwired to worry about where his next meal is coming from. So it stands to reason that they may feel the need to show aggressive behaviour over food if he is not sure when the next meal will arrive.

A good start is too make sure you feed them at the same time every day. Their internal body clock will soon become attuned to this.

We divide Team Chi’s meals into three smaller meals spread throughout the day. Chihuahuas have small stomachs and kidneys and can suffer with low blood sugar. If they are super hungry and feeling cranky at mealtimes they are more likely to display aggressive behaviour over food.

Be the pack leader

Chihuahuas do seem to like a well-ordered pack and like to know who’s in charge. This is you.* When you feed your dog, make them wait a moment and eat something yourself before you feed them. No not out their food bowl, a custard cream will do it!

Teach them sit and stay and to not touch the food until you signal it is OK. Sometimes easier said than done. But chihuahuas are very clever and will get this if you persevere.

Snarling at You

If your chi growls and snarls at you when she is eating, you need to teach her that having people around when it is meal time is OK and can be positive. 

Try feeding her some high value treats by hand while she is eating. You might need to toss the treats to start with if you are risking a nip. Progress from throwing the treats near her bowl to feeding her by hand to then placing them in the bowl while she is noshing. You are trying to desensitize her to feeling threatened over food.

Snarling at other dogs

This can be troublesome if the dogs are sufficiently motivated to fight each other.

Mary Lougee from ‘’ advises:

Start off by separating the dogs and feeding them at the same time but in separate rooms. Do this for a few days. Make sure they can’t see each other and antagonise each other. Give them lots of praise and encouragement.

Then feed them separately but where they can see each other (open the door) Get between them and do not let them leave their food bowl. If they start to interfere with each other shut the door to separate them again and go back to step 1.

Put them in the same room with bowls far apart and stand between them. Praise them for not interacting with each other. If one dog starts towards the other use a distraction, either a pop-up umbrella or by banging on a baking tray near his nose to startle him.

Gradually move their bowels closer together until they can eat side by side, if they start to fight again then back to step 1.


*It is important to understand that establishing yourself as pack leader has nothing to do with being aggressive or threatening. You do not need to dominate your dog by shouting or being physical. All this is likely to do is make them fearful. A fearful chihuahua will bite. Teach them to trust you, to understand that you have things under control and can take care of their needs.


How have you dealt with your chihuahua displaying aggressive behaviour over food? We love your feedback. Please leave comment below.

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1 thought on “Food Fight: Aggressive behaviour over Food

  1. Dian Tangey Reply

    My older Chi is extremely bossy about food. His brother (from another litter, same parents) tries to steal his food. Then the fight starts occasionally drawing blood. It becomes extremely vicious. The older dog is determined he is boss. I have to be careful around him, because he attacks me if he thinks I threaten his position. He is put outside when he behaves like this. He now spends a lot of time outside as he also pees and I am completely over his behaviour. He is 10 years old and his brother is 9-1/2 years. His brother is a much nicer dog. The older dog has been quite nasty since a puppy whilst the younger dog is very loving and a pleasant little dog.

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