There’s an old cliché about dogs — they’ll eat everything you put in front of them, whether they’re hungry or not. There may be a grain of truth to it, but not all dogs are voracious eating machines. Some are perfectly content to snack from their bowl when they feel the urge and others will stop when they feel full, not going back for seconds at all.
But there are certainly plenty of dogs to give some truth to the cliché. No matter how well fed they are, they will never turn down more, and it’s quite easy to imagine them wolfing down food until they explode. It seems like the dog is hungry all the time.
So you may ask yourself, “Why does my dog act hungry all the time?” The short answer is… we’re not absolutely sure. Some experts believe that dogs came to look to us as a food source after early wolves basically domesticated themselves — the wolves that were curious but non-aggressive and came close enough to human camps to scavenge leftover scraps wound up being rewarded with more food.
This, combined with their natural instincts after a hunt — “eat it when the alpha wolves let you and before any other wolves can” — naturally led to them gobbling up anything offered by a human. Of course, to a hungry dog “offer” can also mean leaving it on a counter, dropping it on the floor, or putting it in the trash.
Wolves (or dogs) hunting in a pack also learn the concept of scarcity and food being a limited resource. They may not eat every day, or even every other day, so they fall into a “get it while you can” mentality. This carries over even when the dog is getting two or three regular meals every single day.
Of course, our domestic dogs have not been wild wolves for a long time, so it can be hard to reconcile such an ancient trait with modern behavior. Our dogs probably never grew up going on a hunt and being allowed to share food in pack order. Another possibility is that our dogs really aren’t that hungry. They’re just very good at manipulating us into giving them handouts.
If you do have a dog that would gobble down anything — and especially if that dog is overweight — then you have to take control as the Pack Leader. Consult your vet on your dog’s actual dietary needs per day, create a regular feeding ritual and schedule for your dog, and stick to it. Don’t let anyone in the house give him human scraps or handouts, and only give treats when your dog has earned them by doing a job and then showing calm, submissive energy.
You can also slow the gobbling with special bowls that have pillars in them that the dog has to eat around or, if you want a cheaper low-tech solution, you can put a tennis ball in the dish, which she’ll have to nose around.
When you start with this schedule, leave the food down until the first time your dog walks away from the bowl, whether he’s eaten everything or not, then take the bowl away. This will help reinforce the idea that this is meal time and he won’t be finding more food until the next meal time.
Be aware of your pets diet always.
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