Editor’s note: Have you seen the Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? This article appeared in our February-March issue. Subscribe to Dogster and get the bimonthly magazine delivered to your home.
Do you have a real chowhound at home? Does it seem like your dog gets “hangry” (hungry + angry) just like some people do? You might think your dog never seems to be full, regardless of how much or how often you feed him. He might act out because he’s hungry, engaging in behaviors like whining, barking, pacing, or chewing out of frustration.
Ask yourself these questions when trying to determine why your dog acts so hangry:
This may seem like a no-brainer. You’re a responsible, loving pet parent — of course you feed your dog enough! But even the most well-meaning pet parents might accidentally skimp on food portions. If you have a highly active dog or a growing pup, you need to adjust their food so they’re getting enough calories in their system to compensate for calories they’re burning.
This question needs to go straight to your vet. If your dog has an unusually big appetite (especially if he has suddenly developed one), there is always a chance that a medical condition, like diabetes or Cushing’s Disease, is the culprit. While your pup might not be diagnosed with one of these diseases, it’s worth a trip to your vet to rule out any medical causes.
We may not like to admit it, but most of us spoil our dogs in one way or another. When your dog begs for food or engages in “demand barking” to be fed, do you ignore the behavior, or do you give in and toss him a treat? If you do the the latter, it’s time to put the brakes on your bad behavior! Remember: Your dog will do what works to get him what he wants. If barking, whining, or other demand behaviors have the desired effect, he’ll continue to do them.
So from this moment forward, ignore those behaviors. Stick to a routine of feeding your dog his meals, and include treats in a couple of short training sessions throughout the day. You may see the “hangry” behaviors worsen at first, and that’s normal. This is called an “extinction burst.” Your dog will be confused as to why behavior that had worked so well before is no longer getting him extra cookies. But if you’re consistent and don’t give in, your dog will eventually learn that mealtime is when the food comes — not when he’s barking or whining.