Q: We have a 5-year-old beagle. We can never leave food out anywhere, even on the kitchen table, without him trying to get to it and he usually is successful. We have two small children and he takes food out of their hands. He is always getting into the trash.
Dr. Nichol: Your dog is not alone in his cravings. He, and most of his gluttonous canine brethren, are convinced that a famine will strike in about 20 minutes. Only manic consumers of mass quantities will survive.
Predation is part of canine food procurement but dogs are mostly scavengers by nature. Long dead, rotting, putrefied and, of course, revolting carrion has always been the fast food of canine cuisine. An abundance of nutritious dog food in your home can’t trump instinct. “Grab and run” is a genetically programmed canine survival adaptation.
Forget about lurking in the pantry or setting up a sting operation. Your dog will only get more cagey as he learns to resent the kitchen police. Take control with a booby trap. The Nichol kitchen is equipped with the Cadillac of food security: an Invisible Fence Indoor Avoidance system (505-715-4032). The hands-off transmitter “shields” work great under kitchen tables, trash cans, and cabinets. It’s OK if your beagle drools copiously while watching your family feast on roast beast. He’ll have exclusive access to dog food.
As much as we “own” our pets, we must respect at least some of their rights. Never buy the idea that puppies should allow their food bowls to be snatched while they eat. Pets already have a dearth of natural behavioral choices. Setting a dog up to fail by baiting his resource guarding instinct is pointless and could be a bitin’ offense. Don’t help a good dog go bad. They should be allowed to eat in peace.
Unruly behavior, barking, destructiveness, house soiling, biting, fighting: the list of canine shenanigans is almost endless. I’ll explain the problems and share the solutions at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Center, 4000 Montgomery NE, from 6-9 p.m. Wednesday. Cost: $50. To register call 792-5131. Bring plenty of questions. I’ll give individual help. You can bring dog photos and videos but pet parents only, please.
Dr. Jeff Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). He provides medical care for pets at the Petroglyph Animal Hospital (898-8874). Questions? For answers, Like my Facebook page at facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.