Being a dog owner means learning how to resist those big puppy eyes staring straight into yours whenever there is food. It is almost as if they know, even before you have decided to grab a snack, and there they are, standing beside you and looking at you, begging for a bite. Learning to say no is tough but necessary as we do not want to cultivate bad behaviours, nor would we ever risk our dogs to be overfed. So, how do we know if our dog is just being greedy, of if he is really hungry?
Know Your Dog’s Daily Calorie Intake
Every dog has different dietary needs. How much calorie intake they need would depend on their age, size, breed and physical activity levels. Once your dog has consumed the amount of calories needed daily, they do not need additional food or treats! It helps if you divide the daily calories into half and feed them one meal in the morning, and one in the evening.
Giving our dogs treats occasionally is fine, but it should not make up more than 10% of their total calorie intake. If you are intending to feed treats, subtract the calories of the treats from the total calorie intake and reduce their food portions accordingly. It is very important for us to be consistent and discipline.
Feed Quality Dog Food
Take a look at what you are feeding your dog. Certain dog food brands contains fillers which only fill your dog up momentarily and does not offer sufficient nutrition for your dog’s needs. Look through the ingredients list and ensure that the food is balanced with protein and carbohydrates that will keep your dog satisfied after their meal, and at the same time provide them with the nutrients that they need.
Whether our dogs are still hungry after being fed the recommended amount, could depend entirely on the quality of the food that they are consuming. If you are feeding a quality dog food and following the feeding instructions properly, then it is likely that your dog is just being greedy.
Observe Physical Signs
You should never be able to see your dog’s ribs but should be able to feel them when pressing lightly on the side of the ribcage. Monitoring their weight also allows us to know if they are starving. If our dogs are skinny or start losing weight, chances are that they are probably a genuinely hungry dog.
Pay attention to your dog’s activity levels. Is your dog exercising more than it usually does? It is possible that they are burning off tons of calories and your dog will then genuinely require more food to replace those calories lost during exercise.
Rule Out Any Illness
Monitor if there are behaviour changes. A nutritional deficiency, allergy or other illness could be the reason why your dog is obsessing over food. Dogs have a funny way of recognising that their bodies are missing nutrients, which sometimes results in them eating their own excrement, rocks, and dirt. They might also be begging for additional food to make up for the food deficiencies.
While not common, it is also possible where your dog has developed problems with their pancreas, Cushing’s disease or hyperthyroidism. All of which affects their stomach and intestines, which makes them feel hungrier than they used to. If you have concerns, being it up to your trusted vet.
Being Consistent By Refusing Table Scraps And Offering Treats
Giving in to your dog’s constant request for table scraps encourages bad habits. Everyone in the family should stand firm and come to a common consensus of not feeding any table scraps. Soon, our dogs will lose interest and wander away. If you have never offered any table scraps, and your dog persists in begging you for food, it could indicate that they are probably a genuinely hungry dog.
There are many ways to show love and affection to your dogs. It could be playing their favourite game, giving them toys, or rewarding them with treats. When it comes to offering treats, make sure to give in moderation and never give them one when they are actually begging.
For example, you could offer one treat in the evening after taking a walk. Your dog will then learn when to expect a treat and not beg you for one at any other times of the day. If the begging persists, it could indicate that they are probably a genuinely hungry dog.
Once you have established that your dog is being fed with the right amount of food and that there are no underlying illnesses, it could be time to accept that your dog is not genuinely hungry but simply begging, and start doing something about it. This could take time and requires commitment but it can be done. Here are some steps that you can try to help your dogs with begging.
1. Feed your dog before you have your meal
Besides being able to settle down and eat knowing that your dog also has a full tummy, the smells and sight of our food will not be so much of an issue for them because they have just eaten.
2. Ignore begging
Giving in makes the problem worse. Consistently ignoring it will teach your dog that it will not get what it wants if it keeps up with this behaviour.
3. Separate your dog from your food
You can prevent your dog from being obsessed with your food by separating them from it. This would stop them from grabbing any table scraps or food that accidentally fall onto the floor.
4. Use verbal commands
Be in control of the situation and use commands to ask your dog to refrain from begging behaviour.
5. Reward good behaviour
If your dog successfully refrained from begging, reward them with a treat. They will learn that something good is awaiting them if they display good behaviour.
6. Avoid boredom
Sometimes begging could be a sign of boredom where your dog is trying to get your attention. Ensure that they are getting sufficient physical exercise and mental stimulation. Begging behaviour is likely to stop afterwards.
If you are one of the many owners who felt that your dog is constantly looking for food, truth is, you could be partly to blame. However, things can be turned around if we are consistent with our actions. It is never too late to start. Eventually, our dogs will learn, get the message and this would curb begging behaviour.
Any views or opinions communicated on this page belong to the author and do not represent the views or opinions of any other organizations. This article is meant for us to share our own views and opinions in general. Kindly consult a professional if you would like to seek professional advice.
Adopted from sources
– How To Tell If Your Dog Is Hungry Or Greedy? By Janni, Dog Nerdz.
– Is My Dog Hungry or Just Begging? By Cecily Sailer, Rover.com
– Is My Dog Hungry or Greedy? Signs of a Hungry Dog. By Sharon Parry, My Pet Needs That.
– Images of dogs, Pixabay, Pexels.