Feeding dogs is not as simple as it used to be. With an almost unlimited selection of dog foods and people’s differing attitudes toward food, knowing how to feed a dog has become far more complicated!
There was a time when you could choose from a very limited selection of foods, and the only things you worried about were your dog’s weight and whether he has enough energy.
In recent years, we are able to choose from canned, dried, semi-moist, gravy or non-gravy, non-gluten and meat or vegetarian.
You can even buy all natural dog foods, or dog foods for specific medical conditions, for your dog.
Choosing your dog’s food will depend on her age, her fitness and her health. If she has a condition like diabetes, she will require a special diet.
And older Weimaraners also have special nutritional needs.
What Attracts Dog to Food?
With all the different varieties of food available, you might be wondering what dogs actually like.
Dogs do have taste buds like you, and they can detect flavors that are salty, sweet and sour. But the most important attractant for food is its smell. Your dog’s sense of smell is highly developed.
Studies with dogs have shown us that dogs do have some preferences for foods. For example, they prefer:
- Canned meat over fresh
- Meat over grains and cereal
- Warm food over cold food
- Cooked meat over raw meat
Why Eating is Important to Dogs
While eating is social for us, the feeding routine is important in a different way, to both dogs and wolves.
With canines, the alpha always eats first. He or she eats until they are full and then the others eat what is left. This is significant, because whoever eats first is the alpha, or the one in charge.
Why is this important? Because you, not your dog, should be the alpha in your pack. This is critical for training your dog, for his unyielding obedience and to prevent bad behaviors from developing.
This is actually one of the 5 Golden Rules that Doggy Dan uses in his remarkably fool-proof training system.
Feeding Determines Who is in Charge
So how can you become the alpha? It’s pretty simple. You eat first. You don’t feed your dog at the table or while you are snacking. He waits until you are done. You are the leader of the pack and you decide when the others eat.
When feeding your dog, pretend to eat some of his food before placing his bowl down. He waits until you tell him it’s OK to eat. As soon as your dog is finished eating, remove the bowl.
When you do these things, your dog understands that you are in charge of the food. That makes you in charge of the Pack! If you do not assume this position, your dog will feel that he needs to be the leader. Somebody has to!
And making this gesture of eating reassures your dog that you are in charge. You won’t have to do this forever. When your dog understands (a few days), you can discontinue the gesture eating and just feed your dog. But he must wait to start eating, until you tell him it’s OK to eat.
When your dog feels that there is no leadership in your household, this can lead to problem behaviors. She can be nervous because she perceives that no one is in charge. Your dog can also develop neurotic behaviors–barking, aggressiveness, destroying things or clinging.
Having you in charge is a relief to your dog. You are working with her natural instincts to follow the leader of the Pack.
Habits of Feeding Dogs
Of course the topic of feeding dogs includes more than just the food we give our dogs. It also includes how, when and why we feed our dogs.
Most of us will give our dogs treats when they perform simple tricks or obey our commands. And that works just fine.
However, your dog’s regular food should be given to her as a matter of course. She should have a regular schedule. Whatever works best for you. Your dog’s food should not be either a reward for good behavior or withheld as a punishment.
Many people have gotten into the bad habit of feeding dogs at the table. This encourages bad habits like begging or even barking when you are trying to eat. In addition, giving your dog table food on a regular basis is not healthy for him.
And his “table manners” can be annoying to both you and your guests.