Feeding behaviour


Wild dogs spend a lot of time and expend a lot of energy finding, pursuing and capturing their prey. Predatory behaviour is triggered by hunger. The prey has the following characteristics: it is not hostile and it is associated with feeding. Wild dogs eat small prey such as mice, lizards and insects, although they can also take medium-sized animals such as rabbits or even bigger prey like deer. Wild dogs hunt alone, in small groups or in packs.

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The diet of domesticated dogs needs to contain all of their maintenance needs. Depending on the dog’s life stage, physiological condition and activity levels it may also need nutrients to grow, work optimally, gestate or nurse.

To rule out any hierarchical problems leading to biting, dogs should be trained to obey certain rules with respect to feeding. Dogs should always eat after – or at least one hour before – the humans in the household and must never be given scraps from the table. The bowl should always be put down in the same place, which should never be the room where the humans eat. Dogs should be left alone when eating and never watched.


© Diffomedia/Royal Canin

Some puppies have an unfortunate tendency to eat their faeces. This behaviour should end after 3-4 months, but if it does not the cause will have to be identified. Dogs are naturally attracted to excrement, either their own or that of others, but there are several reasons why dogs might eat their own faeces.

It is often due to poor cleanliness. If the dog is punished for defaecating in the home or some other inappropriate place – especially after the fact - it may defaecate more and more often when it is left alone and get rid of the evidence by eating it before it is discovered. Another cause may be the reinforcement of the dog’s behaviour by its owner, who races to stop it and clean up the mess when it is caught in the act. The puppy feels it is in competition with the owner, which causes it to eat even faster to be certain that the faeces are not taken from it.

Sometimes the dog may not digest its food properly and the faeces may give off nutritional odours which may encourage eating. Some claim that the indigestible ingredients used to improve palatability in processed foods are at the root of the problem. These highly aromatic ingredients pass through the digestive system and end up in the faeces, attracting the dog. If the dog does soil the home, there is no use rubbing its nose in the mess, bearing in mind this is not something the dog finds repugnant. It is also important not to clean up the mess in front of the dog. The dog will interpret the master crouching down to clean the mess as an invitation to play.

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Feeding behaviour
    Feeding behaviour

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