Even though dogs are our best friends and domesticated, they are still animals. Thousands of years of evolution have given them survival instincts, which look like greed to us. In the wild, dogs may not get to eat every day, and they may not know when they will eat again.
When food is available, then they eat all of it. The survival instinct might also make them less willing to share resources with other dogs. Even as recently as 100 years ago, even dogs that were pets were still hunting for a good percentage of their food. Dogs do what they have learned. They do not think they are being greedy.
Why is my dog greedy?
Your dog may not be greedy. Greed is usually a term used for someone hoarding more than he needs, even to the detriment of others.
For a dog, eating is just for survival. Food is a valuable commodity. For thousands of years, they had no idea when there would be more food, so it was smart to eat all you could when it was available. It is hard to tell if dogs really know we will feed them tomorrow. They live more in the present. Survival instincts then, cause dogs to eat all they can when it is available.
Routines are also very important for dogs. They do what they are used to doing and that is based on what they have learned. If they have learned they can get extra food from you with certain behavior, they will do that.
Dogs are also very territorial. They have a clear understanding of who “owns” what. You can teach your dog what is a toy that can be chewed on, and what is something of yours that cannot be chewed on. They respect our property. They also expect their property to be respected. If a toy belongs to them, another dog had better not touch it. If you notice, your dog will also not likely try to take a toy from another dog, if it belongs to the other dog.
They are the same way with their territory. Some dogs are ferocious on the porch, but they are not nearly as threatening when off their property. Some dogs will bark at you as you walk by, and they stop when you pass their yard. They have successfully defended their territory once again.
Why has my dog suddenly become greedy?
There is a reason why a dog changes behavior suddenly. There can be a lot of reasons, and it is good to consider what is all happening around the dog when this happens.
There are physical conditions that can make a dog want more food, or even be more aggressive toward other dogs and people. If your dog suddenly starts acting differently, a visit to the veterinarian would be in order.
If you can rule out physical causes, consider what else is going on. The dog may feel his food supply is being threatened, or his territory has been invaded. Either of those things would be upsetting and cause the dog to act differently. Any change can cause confusion for your dog, and that can lead to problems.
Here are some things that might cause a change in behavior:
- Nervousness. Any change, such as a new person or a new animal being in their house.
- Jealousy. If you are paying more attention to the new dog, that may upset your dog.
- If you are away more, they may be upset and afraid their food supply is not going to be there.
- Changing their feeding time can cause them confusion.
- Changing the food itself, or the location can also cause them problems.
- Moving to a new location.
- If your dog is getting a lot more exercise than normal, your dog may need more food.
- Growing dogs need more food, and it may make them greedy later on if they don’t get enough in this stage.
Why does my dog beg for food?
Most, if not all, dog behavior is based on past experience. If they beg for food once and get something, they have the idea that it might work again. If it works half the time, they are pretty sure of their chances and will be even more persistent. They know what works and what does not. Even if it only works 10 percent of the time, that might still be worth the effort.
For thousands of years, dogs hunted for their food in the wild. They may not know when the next meal will come, so they eat all they can. They may be used to you feeding them once or twice a day, but if there is an opportunity for more, they may feel no opportunity should be wasted.
If a dog has never been given food while his owner is eating, the dog will never think of begging. It is something that has never worked before, so it is not likely to work now. You train your dog by your behavior. People’s food also tastes better than dog food in most cases, so, of course, they would rather have what you are eating.
Dogs begging for food is a learned behavior. If you never gave your dog food while you were eating from the puppy stage, it might not occur to the dog that bugging you will result in getting more food. Dogs are pack animals, and they need to think that you are the leader of the pack. They will respect the wishes of the leader of the pack. They will also feel less emboldened to try to get stuff from you if you are the definite leader of the pack.
Why is my dog greedy with toys?
Dogs are greedy with toys for much the same reason as they are greedy with food. What belongs to them is theirs and no other dog or human should mess with it. If your dog sees you as the leader of his pack, it will be different. In that case, your dog would let you take something and even feel you had a right to because you are the leader.
When dogs live together, they may be more agreeable to sharing toys. If neither of them is the leader, they may understand some things belong to no one and are fair game. When a dog is playing with a toy though, it is his, and no other dog can touch it. The dog may get defensive, or greedy when another dog is trying to take it away.
Dogs are territorial and possessive. They also protect their territory and space from other dogs. This is especially true if it is a new dog in the house, whether a new resident or a visitor. They may feel the need to make sure the other dog knows where the boundaries are. The other dog is in their territory and should respect his property. When dogs live together, over time, one will become the dominant dog. The dominant dog is more able to take things from other dogs.
From the dog’s point of view, she is not being greedy. She is simply protecting what she sees as hers, and establishing boundaries with other dogs and even other people.
How do I stop my dog from being greedy?
The best way to stop your dog from being greedy is by establishing boundaries as early as possible. This can be started as soon as you bring the new puppy home. Training takes time. Dogs learn from you whether you intentionally train them or not. Both take time, but establishing boundaries early on will take care of a lot of problems later on.
Establish with the dog that you are the dominant animal. You can still be very good to your dog, but there should be boundaries. The dog should know what is yours and what is his. The dog also needs to be taught what acceptable behavior is. The first thing is teaching them to go outside to relieve themselves, but that is just the beginning of the journey.
It is also important to realize what you are teaching the dog unintentionally. Repeated actions are teaching your dog things about you, and what you want them to do, whether you direct it at them or not.
If you let your dog jump up on your lap without an invitation, that will become the norm. Once they think this is a good thing, it will be much harder to get them to stop doing it. This may be cute behavior when they are young, but it might not be when they are 50 pounds. It is always much harder to untrain than it is to train. The same idea holds true when it comes to being greedy about food, or begging for food.
Here are some tips for training your dog to not be greedy.
Make sure your dog is getting enough food.
We often over-feed pets, but it is possible that a growing dog might need more than what is suggested on the label.
Don’t ever give them part of what you are eating.
There is debate about whether people’s food is even good for dogs. Once they taste it, they will keep wanting it. If you never give it to them, it won’t be an issue.
A boundary should be that when you are eating you are to be left alone.
They will learn this quickly if you never give it to them. It is not good for your dog to encourage bad habits. If they get some of your good, that will encourage more bad behavior.
Separate meal time from snack time.
Don’t let them have snacks or treats while you are eating. Dogs should have the idea that your eating time is completely different even from their getting a treat. Don’t let these two things even be related.
Train them that the only place they eat is from their food bowl.
Police dogs learn to only accept food from their handlers. It is possible to teach them amazing self-control.
Make sure every family member avoids giving dogs too many snacks or parts of their food. If one person slips, it will undo any amount of training you have done.
Whatever you choose to do as far as training, be consistent. Consistent behavior by you will show the dog what you expect. Changing things will just confuse the dog and he won’t learn anything.
Eat when they eat.
It is a good idea to feed them their food in their bowl, and then eat yourself. The dog will soon understand that you may eat at the same time, but you both eat separately.
Don’t ever give them food from the table.
This quickly creates a bad habit that is hard to break.