5 COMMON DOG BEHAVIOURS EXPLAINED:
Those of us who are privileged to live with canine companions find that they are a continuous source of compassion and joy. They make us laugh uncontrollably and of course, they remind us of the true nature of loyalty. Generally, those of us who care deeply for our canine friends will share a bond whereby we understand most of their behaviour. However, try as we might, there may be a few common behaviours we have yet to understand. Below are five very common behaviours that most dogs engage in and why they might be doing so:
1) WHY DOES MY DOG EAT NON-FOOD ITEMS?
Dogs eat non-food items for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons are behavioural and some are health-related. It is important to rule out al health-related reasons for non-food item consumption before proceeding to any potential behavioural issues. The name of the disease by which dogs (and cats and people) eat non-food items is called pica. Animals acquire the desire for pica for one main health reason; malnourishment. When animals are not fed balanced meals, they will always feel hungry. If they are eating mainly processed foods such as dog foods bought from human grocery stores, they are likely not receiving the complete set of nutrients that their bodies require to feel full and healthy. If dogs are fed “people food”, they may believe that it is acceptable to eat other items than their specific food. If dogs are not fed often enough or are fed smaller than healthy portions, they may hunger and eat anything they can find to feel fuller. This can often include other animals’ waste in the yard or litter box. For more information on why dogs will eat animal waste, please see the following article: https://soulsticespirit.com/2017/10/15/why-does-my-dog-eat-poop/ . Do not be fooled. If your dog is eating non food items you might think it’s because you may be feeding him portions too small. But before you go and double his portions, make sure you cover all of your bases. Your dog is likely eating non food items because he is hungry, yes. However, that does not mean that he will feel fuller by eating larger portions of the food you are feeding him. BE SURE to read the ingredients of the food you are feeding. The portion size you’re feeding may very well be enough but the food itself is not a sufficient source of nutrition for your dog to feel full. Be sure to research what an adequate amount of protein is for your dog, where the food was sourced as well as any additives that were combined with the food during processing to make the bag or can feel fuller. (Hint: no dog should be eating corn gluten, chicken flavoring, rice flour or brewers rice).
2) WHY DOES MY DOG HOWL WHEN I LEAVE FOR WORK AND THE HOUSE IS EMPTY?
Dogs will howl in your empty home for one of three main reasons. The first of the three reasons is that they miss you. Many people confuse all types of dog howling in an empty home for separation anxiety. Though this can be the case it is not always. The latter two reasons why dogs howl in empty homes are more often the case. Dogs will howl most often due to boredom. If your dog has a very sharp mind and is highly intelligent, long walks alone may not sate their energy. This is because intelligent dogs need mental as well as physical stimulation. Just like for humans, if a dog’s mind has little stimulation, the dog will become quite frustrated. Many dogs will then begin to boredom howl. Thankfully, there are several options to appease boredom howling dogs. Two of which are the following: try a doggie daycare. For dogs who are easily bored while you’re at work all day, a doggie daycare can provide up to 8 hours of healthy physical and mental stimulation for your dog. Dogs learn to socialize well and to respond well to humans. At good daycares, dogs are thoroughly exercised both physically and mentally. Be foretold that it is imperative to do your research before you select a daycare for your dog. Be sure to thoroughly interview the daycare owners and staff as well as seek out testimonials to see if that establishment is right for you and your dog. The second way to approach boredom-related howling is to hire a dog walker. Remember that a dog’s walk is not only for physical exercise but also for mental stimulation. Dogs integrate high volumes of information through their olfactory senses. The computation of the olfactory sensation allows for adequate mental stimulation. By hiring an experienced dog walker to walk your dog, you will be allowing your dog to learn and grow. The final reason why a dog will howl when you are not home is due to physical pain. Dogs are often reluctant to show signs and symptoms of physical pain. However, howling can also be attributed to it. Be sure to rule out any potential physical pain associated with howling before approaching other angles.
3) WHY DOES MY DOG HAVE CHRONIC DIARRHEA OR CONSTIPATION?
Many puppies who were weaned too early from their mothers have improperly developed digestive systems. This is because when they were weaned, they did not integrate adequate nutrients to develop healthy bodies. They became malnourished at such a young age that their stomachs did not develop along with proper enzymes, nor did their intestines develop adequate proboitic flora. Over time, this lack of body regulating organisms can create a major imbalance in the digestive organs. If a GI system lacks appropriate digestive enzymes, this means that certain foods may be difficult for the puppy to break down in the stomach. Additionally, with an imbalance in the intestinal flora, the puppy could take issue with absorbing nutrients into the body and run the risk of flushing all of the food out in loose stools. This could negate any nutrient absorption into the body and create nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Additionally, if puppies are not weaned early but have a malnourished mother herself, the puppies run a serious risk of not obtaining sufficient nutrients from their mother. The results would be similar in terms of improper bodily development. There is a very distinct difference between digestive enzymes and probiotics. For more information about the two, please read the following article:
https://soulsticespirit.com/2017/08/13/enzymes-or-probiotics-which-one-is-best-for-my-animal/ . Other than malnutrition, poor quality food can affect dogs who were weaned properly and had healthy mother’s milk. Chronic diarrhea and/or constipation are likely a result of a poor diet. Just as for humans with sensitive tummies, dogs may not be able to digest many types of processed foods. Researching species appropriate diets is the best way to gain ample knowledge of what is the best food source for your dog. Do not be fooled by marketing schemes, advertising or false information from trained professionals. Do your own research.
4) WHY DOES MY DOG LICK ME?
Dogs lick humans for a variety of reasons. Though we would all like to believe that it’s because licking is their way of kissing us and showing their love, often it is a behaviour that is more serious. In modern day urban environments, most dogs are fed nutrient poor foods. Unless you are feeding your dog a raw food diet or cooking his/her meals yourself, your dog is eating highly processed foods. One such example is a kibble-based diet. Kibble, or “crunchies”, is a form of processed, dehydrated food. If you were to attempt to subsist on dehydrated food, what would happen to your vital organs? They would become dehydrated! This is exactly what happens to the vital organs of your canine friend; especially his kidneys. His kidneys must work extra hard to produce enough moisture to process the dehydrated kibble through the body. Because of all of this hard work, the kidneys and the rest of the vital organs become depleted of moisture, resulting in dehydration. How does this pertain to licking? By licking, your dog may be trying to tell you that s/he is thirsty. Be mindful that water is often not an adequate source of moisture for the body, particularly if the dog is only eating kibble. In a kibble based diet, water does not always get absorbed into the body and it passes right through the urine. By adding additional sources of omegas 3 & 6, you will be assisting your dog’s body in regulating the water system. Secondly, a dog may lick a person due to having been weaned too early from his/her mother. When a dog is weaned too early, s/he develops an oral fixation and will subconsciously try to re-establish a bond through licking. While this may seem cute at first, it may gradually become increasingly problematic as the dog ages. This, as with all other compulsive behaviours, must be healed. Through obedience training, the dog will learn that compulsively licking his/her person is not acceptable behaviour. This will allow for a healthier mental state for your dog.
5) WHY IS MY DOG OVERWEIGHT?
Sadly in today’s society, most consumers are unaware of what they are feeding their animals. Most consumers do not read labels and do not research any labels they do read. The result of this is nutrient-poor diets for dogs. Believe it or not, obesity can often be a result of malnutrition. This malnutrition can occur through overeating or it can occur from eating regular amounts of nutrient poor processed foods. When dogs (and people!) consume nutrient-poor foods, their bodies are unable to function optimally. These poor quality foods are often chalked full of inflammatory preservatives and other non-food ingredients. It is common, in overweight dogs who are fed processed foods, to find inflammatory issues such as arthritis and other painful bodily conditions. Most overweight dogs are like people. We must compare the caloric intake of a dog to the caloric output (exercise). Just as for people, if a dog is consuming more calories than he is burning, he will gain weight. It is that simple. If your dog is gaining weight and does not have a pre-existing medical condition, he/she needs more exercise. If you are unable to do this yourself, hire someone who can. Infinite studies have shown that obesity is one of the leading causes of death of companion animals. Obesity leads to arthritis, early stage kidney failure, heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, respiratory disease, depression and more. If you had the power to prevent some or all of these health issues for your animal wouldn’t you?
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