Doggie Table Manners Gone Bad


"...the dog cannot stop drinking, even when not thirsty."


©Scott Sheaffer, CDBC, CPDT-KA, USA Dog Behavior, LLC

You might think that dogs wouldn't have serious behavior issues regarding food, but just like humans, they do. I've provided information on three types below.

"Doggie Table Manners Gone Bad" Compulsive disorders are manifested as repetitive behaviors that are excessively repeated for no apparent reason (think OCD in humans). These behaviors are normally done as a way for the dog to calm itself. Dogs frequently choose their food bowl as a place for these behaviors. These behaviors can include very detailed, ritualistic and predictable repeated movements that can go on for extended periods. The following are short video examples of these unusual behaviors:

"This Doggie Has a Drinking Problem" Primary or psychogenic polydipsia is an abnormal and excessive thirst without any related health concerns. This type of polydipsia is normally a compulsive disorder as the dog cannot stop drinking, even when not thirsty. A veterinarian visit is always indicated when a dog begins to drink excessively to identify any underlying health issues.

"Pass Me the Rocks Please" Pica is the persistent craving and compulsive eating of non-food substances. Dogs will eat rocks, soil, plastic, wood, cloth...you name it. Causes include boredom, stress and self-medication (this cause is not well understood). The first thing we always check when we suspect pica is an underlying health problem; a veterinarian visit is our first stop. Pica shouldn't be confused with coprophagia which is the nasty, and very common, habit of dogs eating feces. The causes and treatments of coprophagia are different from pica.

If your dog is displaying any of these behaviors, check with your veterinarian first. Once any underlying medical conditions are ruled out, please seek the advice of a qualified behavior specialist.