Monday, August 22, 2011

Food Fight!

Having two Basenjis rather than one can be a challenge at times. 

Our two boys generally get along very well.  Sanji is the oldest,  and has virtually "raised" Gumbo, the youngest, and they had rarely challenged one another over food until just recently.

Gumbo is now 3 years old and past his puppyhood.  Gumbo has always been a little protective of food, but Sanji, being the elder, has always given in and let Gumbo have any dropped morsel of food.  Sometimes Sanji has even let Gumbo eat his portion of dog food.  Recently Gumbo has gained  weight and Sanji has lost weight,  so we have been monitoring their bowls. 

One afternoon, the garbage under the sink was raided. Even though we have a safety lock on the door, it wasn’t quite latched.  Sanji got a tasty steak bone and Gumbo tried to take it away, but for the first time ever, Sanji was not willing to share.  With a growl Sanji indicated, “Not this time young one!” but since Gumbo has never been turned down before, he didn't heed the warning.  A lot of noise ensued but thankfully resulted in no open wounds, and in the middle of it my husband Jim managed to retrieve the bone.

When the fighting stopped, Gumbo sat with his front paw up and cried and cried.  We, of course, thought he was injured, but instead he kept looking at Sanji.  Poor Gumbo had NEVER been reprimanded before, and this was a puppy cry.  “How COULD you?” he seemed to say to Sanji.  Even though dogs are sometimes hard to “read,” this was pretty obvious.  Since then, Gumbo has been less willing to take food from Sanji. 

It is always good to monitor your Basenjis around food.  You never know when one will decide that a particular morsel is too good to let go.  Basenjis fight in a very noisy and aggressive manner; most of the time no one gets injured, but when passions rise it can quickly turn more serious.  Some Basenji breeders and owners have had their dogs become enemies after a fight.  Stories about Basenjis not forgiving after a fight appear occasionally on Basenji chats online.   So, even if your basenji appears relatively uninterested in food or seems to share well, just remember that all dogs have a heritage as hunters and food can quickly and unexpectedly become a trigger for a fight.   Even a couch potato basenji may suddenly remember their hunting instincts and feel the need to protect their food, so be alert and try to minimize or avoid situations where your dogs are competing for the same food.  It just might result in a food fight! 

- Marj Baker


  1. Two of my past Basenjis became bitter enemies after a fight over crackers that were left on a table with a chair not pushed in adequately. They lived together for over a year quite amicably. The male pierced the females ear and from then on I had to run my dogs in two packs. This was not the only incident either.
    Please, please keep an eye on your furry babies and avoid fights.

  2. I have had a similar experience, in that I know now not to leave any food or rawhides out when my dogs are left home alone together. My two basenjis get along very well for the most part, but every once in a while someone gets possessive over a rawhide and there may be a fight. If I'm home I can stop the fight before it gets bloody, but when I'm not home I can't know how far the fight would go without someone there to intervene. So, the best thing to do is to just pick up all the food and rawhides before I leave in the morning, and there won't be any fights while I'm gone.