It seems that my dog is always hungry. I will wake up and there Julienne will be, next to my bed with this sad look on her face and murmuring lightly. I know what she wants–food. So I roll out of bed, head downstairs, and fill up her bowl with some dry dog food, and some wet dog food sprinkled on top. She devours it. She is happy. She lies down on her bed, takes a 5 minute cat nap, and suddenly she is up again, rubbing against my leg, pleading for more food.
At this point, I am concerned. I just fed her 5 minutes ago- why is she still hungry? Well, the reason is she was programmed that way. This is nothing more than a million years of instinct telling my dog that she needs to eat something, or she may never have the chance again. Dogs don’t have intellect the way humans do–they can’t see beyond the present moment, so that meal becomes a necessity for them, an aching, urgent need. They whine for it, bark for it, scratch at the counter, and you find yourself heading straight to the dog food cabinet in order to quiet the soul-crushing cries.
Afterwards, you feel a little better because your dog is now calm and quiet, but you also feel guilty because you knew you shouldn’t have fed her–but what the heck were you supposed to do?!?! Endure it?? Well, yes. You should endure it. No matter how loud they bark, how annoying their whining gets, how much drool they produce on the kitchen floor, just sit there and ignore it. Count to ten. Reverse your position on the seat, count to ten again. Do the times tables in your head, until you can’t anymore; do whatever you have to do to keep your mind off the hungry barking dog. And whatever you do, DO NOT GIVE IN. Because once you do, you won’t be able to stop–just like the dog has a bad habit of over-eating, you have gained a bad habit of giving in to your dog’s gluttonous desires. Before you know it, your dog will be passed out by the kitchen trash barrel, her stomach full of the trash’s contents as she dreams of her next meal, while you’ll be neck deep in veterinarian bills, slaving away at work to pay off the debt caused by this addiction which you allowed to grow into a blood-sucking beast. Nobody wants that.
It may be difficult in the beginning to ignore those cries, but over time, it will become easier. As your dog begins to lose weight, you will see how much good you are doing, and these positive effects will change your outlook on things–no longer will you be burdened with guilty thoughts of “I will feel bad if I don’t feed her” or “She is whining so she must be in some kind of pain, I should feed her.” You will see that cutting her off when she’s through with a meal and not feeding her every time she makes a sad whimper isn’t mean, but rather caring, loving behavior. This will not be easy. It will take a lot of patience and mental strength, but if you are able to resist the cries and the pleading, and to just say “no,” you will see the positive effects this will have on your dog, and the resulting positive effects on you.
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