How does dog behavior depend on feeding? And is it possible to influence behavior by changing the dog's diet?
The relationship between dog feeding and behavior is a subject that is being actively studied by scientists around the world. There are still many aspects that have not been fully studied, but there are already some conclusions that allow us to understand how feeding a dog affects its behavior.
For some time now, dogs, unlike cats, are not strictly carnivorous creatures. carnivorous animal. And since the dog is a descendant of the wolf, scientists analyzed 50 rations of wolves from different corners of the Earth.
According to these results, the diet of wolves consists not only of meat, but also of grass, berries, nuts and fruits. In coyotes even corn was found in the diet! At the same time, wolves eat a scar, but do not eat the plant content of the rumen of their prey. But they first eat the insides: the liver, kidneys, spleen and heart. And plant foods occupy a fairly large proportion of the wolf diet.
Dogs are no longer wolves, and the diet of dogs is still different from the wolf: Dogs consume less protein, but at the same time more carbohydrates, because in the process of domestication they acquired mechanisms that allow them to absorb carbohydrates. (Bosch et al., 2015)
The dog’s behavior is influenced by the quantity and quality of the feed, as well as how the feed goes.
Dogs behave differently with respect to food. For example, there is such a thing as resource protection, which extends to food, when the dog aggressively protects what he eats, including from the owners. Anna Lineva at the Pet’s Behavior - 2018 conference presented interesting research data that showed that the severity of such behavior depends on both the individual characteristics of the dog and the food. So, dogs more aggressively defended goodies, food from the table or bone, less aggressively defended their own bowl of food, and most of the people didn't care about a bowl of water.
By the way, it turned out that dogs that are fed "secondarily" are more likely to show aggression, protecting the food that they consider their own, and more often beg. Therefore, the advice of “experienced dog handlers who raised 28 Alabaev” to build a hierarchy in the family due to the fact that the dog eats last, often leads to problems than to positive results.
Many dogs begging, and people, sometimes involuntarily, reinforce this behavior, although they complain about it. If begging a dog has become a problem for you, the only way to solve it is to ignore all (absolutely everything, with no exceptions!) Attempts by the dog to get the desired treat from you besides the main feeding. It would also be nice to convince your pet that you are interesting not only as a food source. And keep in mind that the habit of begging will fade away slowly. So slow. So if you stayed for a month, and then still treated the doggie - you can forget about all previous efforts and start all over again.
There is such a dog behavior problem as picacism - eating inedible objects. This is dangerous and can cause the disease, or even death of the pet. The reason for this behavior is still not entirely clear. There are hypotheses that this may be due to diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, some are inclined to believe that this is a manifestation of chronic stress in a dog. And since the reason is not entirely clear, then attempts at treatment in many cases do not give results. But still, something can be done. Firstly, to provide the dog with at least minimal comfort, and secondly, to remove all potentially dangerous objects so that the dog does not have access to them.
Dog behavior affects serotonin level. The synthesis of serotonin in the dog’s body is associated with the presence of vitamin B6, magnesium, folic and nicotinic acids. Increasing serotonin levels (for example, by adding its predecessor tryptophan) can help cope with territorial aggression, fears or depression in a dog. A lack of serotonin, on the contrary, can cause the development of depression.
Tryptophan is found in dairy products, eggs, lamb, chicken. There are also special feed additives containing tryptophan.
Veterinologists are trying to develop rations that allow you to adjust your dog’s behavior.
So, with stress, fears (including panic), aggression or depression it is recommended to reduce the amount of protein and increase the level of tryptophan (for example, to put lamb meat as the basis of the diet), as well as increase the amount of carbohydrates (but not at the expense of corn, since it contains little tryptophan).
If the dog hyperactive, it is recommended to reduce the amount of protein and adding corn to the diet (it contains an enzyme that reduces the synthesis of catecholamines).
And for phlegmatic, a little inhibited dogs, an increase in tyrosine and arginine can be recommended (in this case, beef is better to choose from all types of meat).