Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?

Many dogs love to channel their inner cow and munch away on grass. For some, it may even be a part of their daily routine. They may even be particular about what type of grass they eat.

Are they hungry? Sick? Is it bad for them? Are they bored? 

Firstly, don’t fret, you’re not the only one confused or concerned, especially if your pooch is vomiting after munching away at your lawn.

Fortunately, experts believe it isn’t something you should be worried about. 

So why do they do it?

happy dog

They Are Scavengers

It is a common misconception that dogs’, like cats are carnivores, when in fact they are omnivores. For thousands of years, dogs have been known as opportunistic scavengers that will consume anything that fulfils their basic dietary requirements. 

Due to domestication and evolution, the modern-day dog is no longer like their ancestors who would frequently eat the whole of their prey, including the stomach contents of plant-eating animals. 

Today, dogs seek out plants as an alternative food source with grass being the most common as it is closest at hand. 

dog running in field

Needed Nutrients

Grass has essential nutrients that your dog may be craving, especially if they are being fed a commercial diet. If your dog has increased the amount of grass it eats, they may be lacking in fibre. In this case, you might want to consider introducing cooked vegetables into your dog’s diet. 

If your dog just enjoys munching on grass here and there, you may want to buy a small grass tray just for them. This will give your dog a safe piece of grass to nibble on, free from possible pesticides. 

dog lying in grass

Vomiting After Eating Grass

If your dog has a gassy or upset stomach it will seek out a natural remedy to cure it, and for them, grass seems to do the trick. When consumed, the grass blades can tickle the throat and stomach lining and in return, this sensation can cause a dog to vomit. This is more likely to happen if the grass is gulped down rather than chewed. If your dog occasionally nibbles on grass with no symptoms then they may just be enjoying it or they may have needed to add a little more fibre to their diet.

However, if your dog is ingesting large amounts of grass at a time and gulping it down, they may be unwell. 

If other symptoms occur including, licking its lips, salivating or swallowing a lot, frequent diarrhoea or your dog is vomiting more than once a week you should seek your vet for advice.

boxer dog in grass

Did you know the "alpha pack leader behaviour" is actually a myth? Read more here

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Alpha Dog Myth Debunked – Why Your Dog Shouldn’t Be Trained That Way

Commonly emphasized by celebrity and TV dog trainers, dogs will only respect your authority if they see you as the “alpha” – a fearsome, dominating pack leader. 

Well, do we have some news for you (and your pup), this so-called “alpha pack leader behaviour” is actually, a myth. 

Through vigorous research and studies over the years, it has been determined that dogs respond best to positive reinforcement, consistency, and love.

So how in fact did this all come about? Keep reading to learn how the “alpha dog” was first discovered, plus why this mentality is not the answer for a healthy relationship with your pet.

Crying Wolf

An animal behaviourist by the name of Rudolph Schenkel spent much of the mid 90’s studying wolves at the Basel Zoo in Switzerland. Schenkel watched them for days, trying to understand what governed their social interactions.

He soon published his findings in a paper called ‘Submission: Its Features and Function in the Wolf and Dog’. In it, he wrote about the competition for status within a pack, where a male and female would emerge as “first in the pack”, and defend their social position as pack leaders. And with that, the idea of the alpha wolf was born.

It was later discovered that his entire paper was based on a faulty premise: the idea that a bunch of unrelated animals brought together in captivity would behave the same way they would in the wild.

A modern wolf researcher by the name of David Mech quoted, “Such an approach is analogous to trying to draw inferences about human family dynamics by studying humans in refugee camps.” And according to his research, wild wolves actually live in family units that are particularly similar to those of humans. 

In his findings, he analyzed that parent wolves guide the family’s activities and divide the “chores” between each family member. It’s only when the pups get older, that their social status is based on birth order, with the oldest at the top. 

3 puppies in a bucket

What This Means for You and Your Dog

With the discovery that the so-called “dominance training” is based on a faulty science, leads to the question: Are the alpha roll approaches used by celebrity trainers wrong or ineffective?

At the end of the day, it all comes down to personal choice and what works best for one pet family, may not for another. 

However, what can be said is dominance tactics as mild as a quick smack on the flank, to those extreme as forcibly rolling your dog over on their side and pinning them to submit, in a sense really aren’t consistent with those in the wild. 

Dogs, and cats for the matter, are extremely instinctual creatures and when presented in a situation that they don’t quite understand, can a lot of the time lead to any form of response, positive or negative. 

So, when seeking a certain behaviour or action, why would it make sense to act in a way that your pet doesn’t understand? And wouldn’t it seem more logical to act in consistency with your pet’s natural instincts and work together as a team? 

As a matter of fact, most experts in recent times have advised that attaining a healthy relationship with your dog requires a focus on positivity and reinforcement. Or as the American Veterinary Medical Association says, “reinforce the desired behaviours, remove the reinforcer for inappropriate behaviours, and address the emotional state and environmental conditions driving the undesirable behaviour."  

For example, when training your dog give treats for good behaviour, and pay attention to your own behaviour – when you react to a naughty dog with attention, for instance, you’re inadvertently reinforcing that action. 

Try work on figuring out how to prevent your dog from being reinforced for the behaviours you don’t want, and reinforce them liberally for the ones you do want. And if you can do this, you’re well on your way to developing a relationship of mutual love, respect, communication, and communion that every pet owner hopes to have with their dog.

couple with dog

Want to know how to stop your dog from digging holes in your backyard? Click Here to learn more.