How your dog can manipulate you

By Kodichukwu Okonkwo, DVM | March 21st, 2022

One of our clients complained that her dog has refused to eat anything other than chicken or meat. He refused to eat his regular canned food. The lady complained bitterly, saying that she doesn't want the cartons of canned food to be wasted. Her dog, Max is a 2yr old Lhasa Apso dog, living indoors. I asked that Max be brought to the clinic for check up to see if there is an underlining cause of the problem. After check up, we found out that most of his vitals are normal. We tried to feed him with canned food but he ignored the food.

During Christmas, the family needed to board Max in our facility so that they can travel. Max continued his attitude towards canned food while other dogs including my dogs were scrambling for the food. Max would just move to a corner and wait for the madness to finish. I would take Max to a corner to feed him alone with his chicken but made sure it wasn't enough to fill his stomach and left him with the canned food for the rest of the time.

Max later started to eat the canned food two days later and even started eating dried dog food five days later. Max was partially kept in the cage outside with some other dogs of the same breed and partially indoors only when I come back from work. When Max eventually returned home, he started eating everything including home food. The owner was astonished. In fact, the next complaint was that Max was getting obese because he now eats everything.

If you got your dog as a puppy or you currently own a puppy you notice that they send messages to you periodically in form of playing, crying, shouting and silence. We are humans which makes us have feelings for any living thing under our care. We want to make sure they are still alive and living well. Puppies are one of the most adorable animal to most humans and thus receives a lot of sympathy from us. We feel very bad to see a puppy get hurt than we feel when a fully grown dog is having the same problem.

When your puppy refuses to eat you get worried, when the puppy cries you want to go and check, when the puppy is playing we want to watch or possibly participate, when the puppy is sick we want to visit a vet etc. These represents the roots of where our puppies or dogs want to manipulate us. By manipulate, I mean bending you to his or her will. This can be positive or negative.

From the story above, Max always preferred chicken while he was growing up and the owner obliged. At a point Max stopped eating his regular food and always waits for the chicken. The owner soon realized that Max only wants chicken and started to stock chicken to feed him.

There are many ways dogs can manipulate the owner. Some dogs will completely dominate the owner and detect how you treat him or he will bite you. They may get to a point where they choose who visits you or bark endlessly at the visitor they don't like. Some dogs will destroy you shoes when you keep them within sight. All these behavior is to get your attention and get you to do their will, sometimes positive and sometimes negative.


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    Kodichukwu Okonkwo, DVM

    Founder of Fairvet Animal Clinic Ltd since 2011, studied at the University of Nigeria Nsukka. He is well experienced in small animal, large animal & poultry medicine, and also skilled at zoo medicine. He loves animals and builds both professional and personal relationship with pet owners in order to sustain a good interaction with pet and animal owners, coupled with His great skills in programming; he brought about which he personally built from scratch.

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