Monday, April 12, 2010

Eyes Wide Open?

I'll never forget the maternal-child health nursing instructor I had in nursing school. Her core belief for preventing an STD was that all folks participating should turn on the lights in the room to see what they're getting in the bargain. Lights off, you're making a deal with the devil, warts or herpes, take your pick.

She had a point.

Even though it was broad daylight when we met our dog, it's turning out that he has a few flaws. Nothing major, because overall, he's a pretty spectacular dog. Is it too soon to talk about the problems I see in Leo? I hope not, because I need advice. The reasons the owner added for surrender of the dog were that:
  • He was aggressive toward the female dog. Well, duh. She hadn't neutered him. Yesterday I saw him running in the yard with 2 females and I have to say, it looked like normal pack behavior and play. I think his problem was fixed when he lost his bits after the shelter got ahold of him.
  • He was marking every place he went with pee. Double duh. See above. He hasn't peed on anything here except the driveway and the grass. Good dog, Leo. Good dog.
  • He had digestive problems. This I plainly see and I think I know the cause.
Leo is snarfing his food as though it's the last bit of chow he'll ever see.

I put his kibble in the dish, and he inhales the food without chewing. I'm at a loss to get him to stop and today had to clean up some huge piles of barf. Sillliyak was prophetic with his word verification warnings. Damn.

So this afternoon, I had to feed him again because the kibble he puked up was still whole. When I fed him, I gave him two cups of kibble and did it at the rate of 1/4 cup at a time. It didn't slow him down, but he didn't puke. Tonight, I gave him another two cups of kibble, but this time, I smeared the bottom of his dish with a glue--peanut butter--and packed his kibble on top of this. It took him about 4 minutes to eat up all the kibble and I actually heard him chewing.

This behavior for racing to eat his food is not one I think I can change right away, and I've never had a dog that did this. I'll bet the original owner's other dog gobbled up the pup's food. He learned to eat fast or go without. I'm sure 2 months at the rescue did nothing to improve this.

Do you have other tricks I can use to slow this beast down? I tried to video him this morning, but I didn't have the heart to watch him eat so fast and then get sick. I think this is a main reason he's underweight. He's not keeping nourishment down. Although I haven't put my hand in his dish when he's snarfing, he hasn't growled at me at all, even when I try to pull him away from the dish. I don't think he's resource guarding in the traditional sense. He's just eating fast.


I'm all ears.


Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for him. I best he has been afraid he wasn't going to get his share. I don't know a thing about dogs, but I bet you get him straightened out.

Ari_1965 said...

The Tug-a-Jug will help slow his eating down. It's a hard plastic bottle with a rubber stopper. You unscrew the bottom, put the kibble in, screw the bottom back on, and put the thing down for the dog. The dog has to move the bottle around, jiggle the stopper, etc. to get pieces of food out. It's really slowed down Buddha's mealtimes.

If you buy it, buy the small. The small holds 3 cups of Canidae kibble. The large is REALLY large.

Petco has the Tug-a-Jugs. Target, too. My local PetsMart doesn't have them.

There are quite a few food-toys out there, but the Tug-A-Jug holds a whole meal's worth at a time.

You also can make your own version. Wash out and dry a plastic pop bottle. Bore a hole on one side, big enough for a piece of kibble to come out. Put dinner in bottle, put cap on bottle, give it to dog. 75% of dogs will roll it around to get food out. 25% will just rip the heck out of the bottle to get at the food!

Finding Pam said...

Rudee, I have a dog that eats too fast. I googled some sites for you. There is a ball that you can put food in and it slows down their eating.

I hope this helps you.

Stephanie V said...

OMG, Rudee. Sounds like my kids...too bad I didn't have that Tug-a-jug thing for the boys.
It sounds like there's lots of help out there and I know that your love and care will bring this dog to where he should be.
Did I tell you I love his name? It sounds so noble.

willowtree said...

I came across this thing while I was net-surfing today. I cant' really see how it would work though.

Miss 376 said...

Animals are as bad as kids for giving us worry and sleepless nights. I hope you find a way to sort him soon

Rose said...

I was thinking feeding him the kibble as if it were treats, one by one, but I doubt that would retrain him. Probably that jug thing is a better idea. Good luck.

NCmountainwoman said...

Sometimes it will help if you put the food in a REALLY large dish. That way it slides around the dish and he can't eat so fast.

Another idea is to put large stones or other smooth heavy objects in the feeding dish. He has to eat around the objects and that slows him down as well.

He's beautiful and one lucky dog.

Middle Aged Woman said...

He will adjust. Sounds like you are right about the underweight thing. I've seen families on the Dog Whisperer show that needed to feed the smaller dog in a separate room with the door closed, just so they can eat stress-free! How does he do when he's home alone? That's when our dog was the most stressed out. It's why I haven't gotten another one, because we are out too often.

Rudee said...

NCMW, I thought about a cookie sheet to spread the food out. Maybe I'll give that a try. The very thin layer of peanut butter seems to help a bit, too. He'll see the vet tomorrow for other ideas and diet suggestions.

MAW, Leo is an only doggie.

Ari, I will look at this. He really needs to slow down. I looked up the brand of dog food you use, and it looks impressive.

jeannette said...

I see you already have gotten some suggestions...hope you get this problem solved! Doesn't seem fun to keep cleaning up his throw-ups LOL

Lisa L said...

no ideas from me, but one of my rescue dogs has a *thing* about food...she has great difficulty taking treats etc from our hands, its almost impossible for her to do - like she's afraid we're going to hurt her..and she is amazingly possessive of food around the other dog. she growls at him to keep away when she has a treat etc. i am sure she was abused before we got her.

Brenda said...

Looks like lots of people have given you some help here. I can't remember any of our dogs having that problem so I wouldn't have been able to offer any advice...

Silliyak said...

I won't worry you with this word verification, let me just say be sure you

Gail said...

All the ideas I had when reading your post have already been mentioned. I think the peanut butter is a bang up idea.

Otherwise, is he the one?

Gail said...

My word verification is pretiest!!
How's that for a physic message?

Anonymous said...

Oh poor mite. I'm not sure what to suggest apart from give him smaller meals frequently.

Big hugs to him.

CJ xx

Kathy said...

we used a very large rock that our dog hat to eat around, to slow him down. So important to slow him down as a deep chested breed. Good luck. My little rescue dog is a great boy. We got the best part of the deal!

Sandy said...

ohh sounds like you got good advice.

Kathleen said...

Congratulations, Rudy!!! I'm so happy to hear about Leo. He' GORGEOUS. We have the same issue with Ginsberg. He's a snarfer, too. In puppy kindergarten, we've been taught to make him earn his food before we set it down. Then midway through, we pick up the bowl, run our fingers through the kibble, then give it back. In the wild, wolves have to earn the right to eat, which is granted by the alpha. So we're mimicking that behavior. It slows him down just a bit. But my son's roommate has a snarfer and he puts a couple big rocks in the dish to make Nora slow down. Apparently that works. Good luck!