Behaviour Tip of the Month – Nutrition VS Your Dog

Nutrition VS your dog

Are you someone that is prone to getting ‘hangry’? Or feeling flat and lethargic after a large meal, or grazing aaaaaaall day and eating way too much? Like humans, what your dog eats, and the timing and frequency of feeding, impacts your dog’s mood and behaviour.

Some dog owners feed their dog once daily and experience no issues, but more frequent meals could benefit both fussy eaters and greedy dogs due to a more stable blood sugar level. When insulin is low, less of the ‘feel good’ hormones – dopamine and serotonin – are produced. As a result, high amounts of adrenaline are secreted to raise blood sugar levels, resulting in agitation and reactiveness.
Too little food or low quality food, can result in a hungry dog. Which can cause irritability, leading to food guarding at mealtimes, begging, stealing, and desire to eat inappropriate or non-food items.

Too much food can result in an overweight, sluggish dog who is less responsive to food rewards for training. Overweight dogs are more likely to display undesirable behaviours including food guarding, food theft, poor recall, fearfulness to walk outside and aggression towards other dogs and strangers. Some dogs will utilise the extra food as fuel for energy; commonly seen in exuberant, healthy, young dogs who then become easily over-excited.

Too much variety with food can lead to fussiness, causing over-feeding, especially of extra’s (like human food and treats), which can reduce appetite for the main diet and inadvertently reinforce attention seeking behaviour at mealtimes. If a large proportion of your dog’s daily calorie intake is supplied by incomplete additions (treats), this could leave him/her lacking in important “brain food”, contributing to behavioural problems.

Your dog’s nutrition is important to help him/her feel good and behave well each day. So ensure you feed him/her a good quality, balanced food; suitable for his/her age, size and lifestyle. Feed regularly throughout the day, with at least 4 hours between eating, to allow digestion to relax between meals. Puzzle feeders can be a useful way to make feeding the main diet more stimulating. Consult a vet to discuss your dog’s diet further or a dog trainer to discuss your dog’s behaviour.

Veterinary Nurse Kirstie Hancock is qualified in animal behaviour with her Certificate IV in Companion Animal Services through the Delta Society. She has lots of great tips and ideas when it comes to misbehaving pets. Keep an eye out for her monthly tips on our Facebook page. Also check out her own business Facebook page – Positive Paws.