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View Full Version : Do dogs have self control?


Shinna Minna Ma
08-10-2010, 03:56 PM
My dog is typical, I guess, in that she gets fed twice a day, morning and evening.

On Friday nights, she also gets a slice of challah (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Challah), and then chicken soup with chicken pieces mixed into her dinner. She loves it, but then she comes to the table looking for more.

What would happen if we continually gave her food she loves - a continuous supply of challah and chicken. If she gets full, would she finally walk away, or do dogs continue to eat until they get sick? Is there any self control?

--SMM

TriPolar
08-10-2010, 04:47 PM
Dogs will eat until they are full, which can be an enormous amount of food. Their ancestors didn't get fed on a regular basis, and their digestive systems can still handle gorging. Given the opportunity, dogs will do this on a regular basis and gain weight to the point of morbid obesity. I've seen large dogs that were 30 lbs. over ideal weight, with no apparent decrease in appetite.
But your dog can't percieve any downside to gluttony. If she lived in the wild, and had to worry about becoming some other predator's meal, she might balance her appetite with the ability to run away or fight back.

Al Bundy
08-10-2010, 06:32 PM
Dogs will keep eating.
Sometimes somebody will feed Emmie the Airedale and then someone else will come along and ask her if she has eaten. She acts hungry and willing to chow down again like she never ate that day. She has pulled it off a number of times. Trouble is, dogs can get a twisted stomach and die from over eating and exercising after eating.

purplehorseshoe
08-10-2010, 06:35 PM
Doggie ancestors (wolves) do the feast-or-famine routine. The whole pack cooperates to bring down a kill, and then the whole pack eats, pretty much at once. A wolf who daintily took a few bites, stopped to look around, decided to come back once it was hungrier ... was a dead wolf. It would starve, rapidly.

Dogs retain that instinct to, well, wolf down their food as fast as possible before a packmate eats it for them.

Mr. Horseshoe's family had a beagle for years. Anyone who's been around this breed knows: they have NO self-control when it came to food. They will literally eat until they can't move, and then lay around moaning and farting. They don't seem to have an "OMG! I'm so full it hurts! I probably shouldn't keep eating!" signal in their brain.

Shig
08-10-2010, 06:37 PM
I know a couple people with dogs that just always leave food out for them. My dogs get fed at certain times and at first I thought it was pretty poor pet ownership on their part to leave more than enough food out at all times. However, the dogs do not overeat and are very healthy and fit. Some dogs though seem like they would just binge on a large amount of food. Perhaps it's what they were raised with?

Acid Lamp
08-10-2010, 07:05 PM
I know a couple people with dogs that just always leave food out for them. My dogs get fed at certain times and at first I thought it was pretty poor pet ownership on their part to leave more than enough food out at all times. However, the dogs do not overeat and are very healthy and fit. Some dogs though seem like they would just binge on a large amount of food. Perhaps it's what they were raised with?

That is called "free feeding" and is a fine technique for many dogs. Not all dogs are food motivated and will gorge until obesity. Most learn early on that the food is always there and moderate their feeding habits accordingly. Our two large breed dogs are on this system and both are in excellent shape. They nibble occasionally throughout the day, and usually tuck in a half a bowl's worth or so in the evening after they've determined they aren't getting people food. We have their food in gravity fed watercooler type dispensers. A fill up lasts about two weeks and holds about 10 lbs of kibble. In fact they actually eat less in general on this system then giving them a bowl each evening.

Voyager
08-10-2010, 07:21 PM
In the more general sense of the term, dogs can be trained to have self control. Guide dogs get trained to ignore food on the ground, in fact food distraction is a reason for them being career changed. They are led on courses with food on the ground. and must not eat it or even actually seem like they are noticing it.

Renee
08-10-2010, 08:15 PM
Really depends on the dog. Some of the dogs we've had self-moderated their food intake, some just get fat if you try to free-feed.

Moonlitherial
08-10-2010, 08:24 PM
It depends on the dog. We've got a perfect example of each kind right now. We have to feed Mojo his dinner in two steps because otherwise he eats so fast he makes himself sick. Kaia on the other hand rarely finishes a meal and there is almost always food in her bowl.

We have trained Mojo not to eat out of her bowl however food that hits the floor is fair game. This has led to a sometimes amusing interaction where Kaia will take a mouthful of food out of her bowl and drop it on the floor for her brother.

Superhal
08-10-2010, 08:46 PM
My dog has no problem waiting to eat. We keep her bowl half-full all day long, and she nibbles on it from time to time. Usually, she will eat a light breakfast, then wait until around 7pm. If nobody is eating dinner (while she begs for scraps) she will eat her dinner at that time. If we are eating dinner, she waits for handouts before her kibble.

She also has amazing self control for Greenies (which is made of doggie crack, btw) and can "stay" within a foot or so until the command is given for her to get it.

Eyebrows 0f Doom
08-10-2010, 11:39 PM
My previous dog (a dalmatian) was the daintiest eater you could ever imagine. He would eat his food one kernel at a time, chewing each one and taking his time. It was so funny when we got our current dog (a black lab) and the bowl would be completely empty and licked clean just seconds after it hit the floor.

GameHat
08-11-2010, 12:09 AM
Anyone who's ever owned a beagle knows -

This fool dog will eat until it dies.

fiddlesticks
08-11-2010, 12:11 AM
I grew up with a shih-tzu who was very finicky. Except on those very rare occasions when he got something other than dry kibble in his bowl, he'd very rarely eat the bowl clean. He was prone to "hunger-strikes" waiting for something better to come along (usually this was leftover rice from our dinners), which we always found appropriate for our dog of Chinese heritage.

TriPolar
08-11-2010, 12:33 AM
Anyone who's ever owned a beagle knows -

This fool dog will eat until it dies.

A friend of mine says his beagle uses his tongue like a front-end loader to scoop his entire meal into his mouth and swallow without chewing. He says the beagle could leave his teeth to another dog when he dies because he's never used them. It follows along the line of remarks I've heard about other beagles.

GameHat
08-11-2010, 01:01 AM
Anyone who's ever owned a beagle knows -

This fool dog will eat until it dies.

A friend of mine says his beagle uses his tongue like a front-end loader to scoop his entire meal into his mouth and swallow without chewing. He says the beagle could leave his teeth to another dog when he dies because he's never used them. It follows along the line of remarks I've heard about other beagles.

My beagle, God love him - even when he was old and lay dying:

He wouldn't get up to piss or shit. He'd just soil himself. But put a piece of chicken in front of him - he'd heave himself to his feet, joints cracking and failing. He'd wheeze on over to the chicken. Eat it. Then enter a cruel endless loop:

Eat chicken
Vomit chicken
Eat chicken
Vomit chicken

These beasts were bred to be endless eating machines.

Hilarity N. Suze
08-11-2010, 02:47 AM
Eh, I've always free-fed my dogs, and the only fat dog I ever had was fat when I got her (beagle/dachsund mix, her tummy was basically dragging on the ground when I got her). She shaped up.

Once they figure out that the food is always going to be there, they seem to realize they don't have to eat it all.

It was a little harder to teach them not to eat all the cat food. Apparently, cat food is better.

capeo
08-11-2010, 08:16 AM
I've always free-fed my current dog. I fill her bowl up once in the morning and she eats when she feels like it. Usually after I eat and she realizes she's not getting any people food hand outs. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure if I kept putting meat in front of her she'd eat until she vomited. Never tried this though and, well, don't intend to.

BigT
08-11-2010, 07:13 PM
My dogs will gorge themselves on better food, but not dry kibble. I've always assumed it's not very appetizing, so they only eat when they have to.

So kibble is always available, but because my oldest dog has teeth problems, we'll feed him soft food--which is so good my other dog will go crazy for it. If the older dog grabs a bit of kibble, though, he won't care at all.

Ludy
08-11-2010, 07:32 PM
I free feed my dog and she will sometimes even take two days to eat one days serving of food. On the other hand my one year old has also taken to sharing her meals with the dog so she gets plenty to eat. But even with people food, the dog will tire of it and walk away.

It's good knowing that we wont have an overweight dog, but it did make training a bit harder. She had a bit of separation anxiety and most of the tricks for keeping the dog occupied while you are gone revolve around treats. If it involved even a tiny amount of work to get the food, even if it was her favourite, she would just give up and go back to ripping up newspaper.:smack:

Sailboat
08-11-2010, 08:03 PM
It's also worth noting that in other food-related endeavors, many dogs can show amazing self-control. Pointers and setters locate prey but wait for their human companion to act even if the prey is right there in front of them. It is said that they definitely feel the urge to attack the prey, but repress it. Retrievers have "soft" mouths and will bring freshly-killed prey -- or even live prey -- back to their human pack members, carried in their mouths, unharmed. That's self-control.

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