This week, the Seattle Humane Society has provided us with some tips on how to deal with a dog that is hungry all the time.
They say a trip to the vet is in order if a dog is continually food-obsessed. You want to rule out the possibility of a medical problem, i.e. diabetes or a thyroid issue.
If it’s behavioral in origin, then the following tips are great starting points to reduce the obsessive behavior:
• No attention (and obviously no food or anything else) for begging. If this dog has been rewarded for begging in the past it is likely the behavior will get worse before it gets better. The dog is thinking “well, this used to work, I’ll try harder” but WILL finally give up as long as they do not give in, even once. In fact, giving in even once will result in strengthening the behavior. But, the family should take heart, the behavior getting worse is called an “extinction burst” which is what happens before the behavior dies out.
• How about some enrichment…puzzle toys where she works to earn her food but does it herself and has to figure out the toy and how to get the food out.
• K9 Nosework – teaching her to find hidden treats/items would be great. It’s great for any breed but for hounds it’s what they were bred for.
Our DBS volunteers do this with our shelter dogs and the dogs and volunteers love it. It tires the dogs out in a different way than physical exercise does.
• And definitely more walks with lots of sniffing opportunities, meeting other dogs, going to a class—get her brain working!
There’s also the possibility that the dog just isn’t getting enough food. Always feed on a regular schedule – and start adding a half serving of additional food to their bowl to see if that satisfies their hunger.