If you think your puppy is just greedy or hungry when he wolfs down his food, think again. Eating food too quickly without even bothering to chew may be part of his nature. Yelling at him and punishing him is not going to put a stop to his fast-eating fetish, and it might make him fear you. Instead, try to understand his behavior, ensure he's healthy and use simple tactics to slow him down so you don't have to worry about his safety and well-being each time he eats.
Understanding the Behavior
Food-gulping behavior in puppies goes back to their ancestors. Wolves didn't have loving owners to provide them with regular meals. They had to fend for themselves and ate their prey quickly so pack members or other animals couldn't steal their meal. Eating fast was a survival method. Puppies from a shelter or puppies who had l ittermates might display rapid-eating behavior, stemming from when they had to compete for milk or food. They've developed the hard-to-break habit early on.
Dangers of Gorging
Correcting your puppy's rapid eating is essential, because if ignored, it can result in health complications that might ultimately be fatal. Puppies who gorge on food might experience digestion and bloating problems or they might choke on food or throw up after devouring it. Gorging on food is especially dangerous in dogs with flat faces. They might experience breathing problems while eating their food.
Consult a Veterinarian
Before correcting your pet companion's food gorging, visit a veterinarian to rule out medical conditions that might trigger the behavior. Internal parasites, diabetes and metabolic problems can all be to blame. Your puppy might wolf down food because the condition at hand is robbing him of nutrients that he's trying to replace. A veterinarian can also recommend replacing his current food with a high-quality food that's easier for your puppy to digest and provides all the nutrients he needs.
To slow your puppy down while he's eating, don't serve his food in a bowl -- scatter it on the floor or on the lawn so he has to sniff for it and can't grab a lot at the same time. Aside from eating slower, this also provides your pup with mental stimulation. Food-stuffed dog toys have a similar effect. Putting a ball or a large rock in your dog's bowl is another tactic worth trying. Eating around the large object is challenging and slows your puppy down. If you have more than one puppy, feed them in separate rooms so there's no competition and no need to gorge on food.
By Kimberly Caines
Adopting A Dog: The Indispensable Guide For Your Newest Family Member; John Ross and Barbara McKinney
Vermont Veterinary Medical Association: Fast Eating Behavior
Training the Best Dog Ever: A 5-Week Program Using the Power of Positive Reinforcement; Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz and Larry Kay
About the Author
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.