If your dog isn't herself these days, take a look at her diet. Just as some foods you eat make you feel downright icky and out of sorts, what your dog is eating can affect her behavior. When your dog exhibits unusual behavior, it might be time for nutritional modification.
You've seen it in kids and you may have even noticed it in yourself: improper diet results in crankiness. It's a chemical reaction in the body and when someone, even a dog, isn't eating properly it upsets her system, and aggressive behavior can be the outcome. Pet Services points out that dogs are not strictly carnivores, and Vet Info backs this up in listing vegetables and fruit right alongside meat as appropriate for a dog's diet, making it evident that a balanced diet is necessary for your dog's health and good behavior.
Some dog breeds are more prone than others to being energetic. Your dog might have a natural playful streak, but when her behavior crosses the line into hyperactive territory, a common cause is too much sugar in her diet. Preservatives and synthetic coloring in dog food are additional causes of hyperactivity, so if your dogs seems to have a touch of ADD, turn into a label reader and find products that are heavy on natural ingredients with less (or no) artificial preservatives and colors.
If your normally lively pooch becomes lethargic and seems depressed, she may not be getting enough protein in her diet or may be getting too many carbohydrates. Not enough protein and too many carbs can result in lack of energy and weight gain, which can bring on depression and irritability. Finding the right food in addition to increasing the amount of exercise your dog gets should cheer her up as well as slim her down.
Begging or Stealing Food
Begging or food stealing are usually learned behaviors, although food stealing can be prompted by a nutritional lack in your dog's diet, causing her to snatch "people" food that is within reach to try to fill a need her body tells her she has. The first line of defense is to only feed your dog food developed for her nutritional needs and dog biscuits and doggy snacks instead of scraps from your table. If she doesn't develop a taste for people food, she won't think to beg for it or pilfer it from an unattended plate. Keeping off-limits food out of your dog's reach or not allowing her access to the kitchen or the dinner table when food is being served are effective strategies, as well.
Pica is a condition that causes dogs to crave and eat non-food items, things like wood chips, rocks or your favorite sweater. Pet Place lists a number of causes, but three can be tied to insufficient nutrition, namely maldigestive and malabsorptive disorders, endocrine disorders and iron deficiency. Although pica can be caused by non-diet related issues like boredom, loneliness or anxiety, consulting your vet to determine if you dog has a nutritional deficiency is a smart first step if she starts eating the decorative wood chunks from your flower bed.
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.