==> "Do you mean stealing food?"
No. Dogs don't steal. But maybe your dog is doing something you don't even notice?
How To Stop Scavenging!
Make sure you memorize what this smart lady says:
Find out more: Click to save vet cost, training cost, and your nerves!
In this Periodical:
- What is Scavenging?
- Is Scavenging Normal?
- Historical Background of Dogs
- Why do some dogs scavenge way more than others?
- Risks of Scavenging
- Behavioral implications of scavenging
- How to Stop Scavenging?
- What to Do When it's Too Late
First and most importantly, before you leave: Never buy this type of muzzle, for no reason at all!
If any muzzle then only a generously sized "breathable" basket style muzzle, because the adjustable wrap-around type muzzle is
- highly dangerous for everyone: dog, dog owner, bystanders, children,...!
- needless, useless, unsuitable
I have seen so much harm being done from suddenly ueber agitated dogs wearing this type of muzzle!
What is Scavenging?
With Scavenging we mean "clearing any item found on the ground or above and ingesting it".
Foraying, foraging, looting. Then gobbling it.
Is Scavenging Normal?
Yes, scavenging is normal for dogs: By genetical heritage, dogs are omnivore scavengers. Conversely, wolves are carnivore hunters. Totally different by nature!
Scavenging actually is THE canine trait that launched its very existence: Dogs are dogs because they evolved as scavengers of human food leftovers.
Human FOOD leftovers, not today's sweets, nor snacks, nor processed and artificial "convenience foods", nor incinerated cancerous and euthanized animals craftily formed into kibble.
Just REAL food leftovers is what dogs evolved and thrived on to become the pet animals that we love.
Historical Background of Dogs
Although there are controversial opinions (opinions exist for everything...), for scientists it is fact that it was exactly this scavenging behavior that brought us our modern canine friends: the domesticated dog.
According to fossil founds, some 33,000 years ago a few wolves that weren't as shy of humans as others in their pack narrowed in on human settlements in Siberia in order to ... scavenge some food remains, yes!
- This was much easier than hunting other animals, and this motive certainly helped to reduce their shyness - called flight distance
- This behavior intensified within these particular family lines of wolves, and soon these wolves stayed with the human settlers all the time
The human settlers liked the company of these friendly wolves: One reason probably was that, in "exchange" for the scavenged food leftovers the wolves protected the people from dangers, because the wolves would hear anything coming close long before the people could hear it.
It was a win-win for both parties really.
This moment was the start of our modern domesticated dogs! Soon the people must have ventured into targeted breeding of those wolves which demonstrated specific traits that our ancestors particularly liked.
- Since wolves mature early within two years
- and on average reproduce yearly
- and the average litter size is 5
you can see how quickly our ancestors' targeted breeding venture churned out the new dog species!
(In the image I chose litter: 6 for ease of calculation...)
These dogs now were markedly different in their behavior from the initial wild wolves, who would attack people when they see a chance.
And from breeding generation to breeding generation - ie from year to year(!) - the newest dog generation became ever more docile towards people, while remaining hostile towards all other dangers.
So much that at some point these domesticated dogs were so different to their ancestors that they even protected the people from the wolves!
It is not clear at what time historically this most profound behavioral transition took place, but reportedly to this day eg the Anatolian Shepherd, English Mastiff, Presa Canario etc can thwart off wolves. If you have one of those dogs and have experience with that, we are all ears!
With this level of protection, now dogs had become people's best friend! And so the scavenging of human food leftovers continues to the present day.
Why do some dogs scavenge way more than others?
So then how comes that
- some dogs can rarely or never be seen scavenging anything at all
- other dogs pass by a lot of items and then scavenge selectively only specific items - but on the same walk ie one cannot argue with "different appetite"
- and again other dogs can be seen to scavenge indiscriminately indoors and outdoors at every opportunity
How comes? Ever asked yourself?
The reason apparently is that the taste buds don't get training, and like when you never use a muscle, they get weaker and become indifferent.
These dogs then naturally tend to scavenge just about anything when they feel they don't get enough ordinary meals, or not regularly.
Conversely, dogs that get only REAL FOODS, and so naturally always different ones, tend to scavenge not only less but are selective.
And indeed my adult GSD named Miguel frequently ignores a lot that's lying around somewhere and that as a puppy he always scavenged.* I am sometimes surprised because I know he had not had a meal yet, he must be hungry - and yet he doesn't scavenge it!
Of course this is totally plausible: When you always eat a good variety of REAL FOODS, even steam-cooked or solar-baked (yummy!), you easily become a gourmet - and likewise the dog: my gourmet dog Miguel, lol.
While when you always eat the same thing, say fast food cheeseburgers, or in case of the dog kibble, you become an indifferent eater: such dog owner may end up preferring fast food over French Cuisine, and such dog may soon not notice a taste difference between sweets or snacks and the kibble he gets.
So yes, it may actually be that the pet "food" industry leads the search rankings with their articles on "toxic people foods" because the industrial crap they sell causes an indiscriminate taste, leading dogs to scavenge sweets, snacks, and "convenience foods" at every opportunity.
Risks of Scavenging
You will have noticed that dogs in general don't 'analyse' found 'food' remains before they gobble them down.
This kind of indiscriminate scavenging can lead to:
- obstruction of the esophagus
- piercing of mouth, throat, or stomach: sharp pieces of litter, splint bones, etc
- ingesting manmade toxins
- poisonous items in nature
- bacteria and parasites from decayed waste and carrion
- transmitted pathogen diseases, including those in feces
- unsuitable items that irritate the digestive system
- dietary allergies
- too much scavenging, even of healthy items, may lead to Obesity
While scavenging always bears risks, the intense inbreeding of our modern dog breeds (particularly of popular breeds like the German Shepherd) has led to gastrointestinal sensitivities (and countless other health issues) that have made scavenging more risky for dogs - despite being scavengers by nature.
While all the above merely are potential health consequences of scavenging, in addition you need to consider the inevitable behavioral consequences of scavenging: Dogs that scavenge of course feel that they have control over food, which increases the conflict the dog is experiencing in its Pack!
As this is nowhere else explained, if you read this for the first time, to understand it, The Prime Secret about Dogs can be considered required reading.
Behavioral implications of scavenging
It is these behavioral implications of scavenging that lead to a whole array of problems for the dog owner. These problems can comprise:
- excessive barking
- jumping up
- couch possession and other territorial aggression
- not coming when called
- general ignoring the owner
- food aggression
- even aggression against the dog owner and other Pack members
How to Stop Scavenging?
So there is certainly a strong argument to make to prevent our dog from scavenging. But what exactly can we do about it?
Most importantly, as I recommended at the top, did you memorize what this smart lady says?!! And she says a lot more smart things indeed:
Find out more: Click to save vet cost, training cost, and your nerves!
Here's a list of measures we can take to stop scavenging - in the order of usefulness, in my opinion:
However, if the dog turns to forceful coughing, pawing at the mouth, and respiratory distress, then most likely the item has reached the larynx, and the dog may not be able to cough out the item without our help.
This is an emergency: You will not have time to get to the nearest veterinary clinic, you must help the dog instantly yourself!
This is easy with the Ultimate Guide to Dog Health - which includes the Ultimate Guide to Dog First Aid as a bonus for free. Proceed as shown in those books.
Finally, note that if the dog's scavenging leads to diarrhea or vomiting for more than 24 hours, you should visit a quality vet straight away on the second day.
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