A friend of mine who owns Belgium Shepherds and I were sharing stories about food fights between our dogs. She has to supervise feeding time to ensure that her dogs do not eat each other instead of the food. My dog's bowls have to be out of each other's eye sight but even then there is a lot of looking over the shoulder to see if the other dog's bowl of food is better.
According to the author of Dominance: Fact or Fiction, Barry Eaton many behaviourists believe that dominance in our domestic dogs is about access to or control of resources which can result in "resource guarding". He says this is where a dog has something it prizes (food, shelter, toys, its owner's attention or a potential mate) and may show aggressive behaviour to hang on to it at all costs. It's got nothing to do with status but with the uncharitable desire not to share.
For the first time in my life, my dogs had a serious fight which drew blood. It was all over a bone.
The one had discovered a bone in the park and I foolishly let him bring it into the car. It is always difficult to persuade them to go home after a walk, so I thought of the bone as enticement and bribery.
The next thing all hell broke loose. Pure adrenalin and the fact that they had their collars on allowed me to separate them long enough to chuck out the offending bone. A worried owner dashed over to see if we were all still in one piece.
It was a huge shock to me as my previous dogs had never fought. For the first time I really understood what "resource guarding" really meant.
At the risk of sounding anthropomorphic, we humans aren't much different. We are also driven by the desire for access to or control of wealth and sex. This is one of the biggest causes of conflict in society - crime and divorce because we lust after someone's "resources" or "bitch" or "stud".
It also occurred to me that neutering and spaying is not only about preventing unwanted pregnancies. A female dog in heat can literally drive males in the same area crazy with lust.
So I am going to stop worrying myself to death because my puppies won't share. After all when I was a kid, just because my parents told me to share didn't mean I did as I was told.
http://www.petspublications.co.za sells Mine by Jean Donaldson on Resource Guarding