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Hi everyone, I’m new to this forum. We’ve had our white German Shepherd for two years and rescued him when he was 4 years old. As far as we know he had a pretty ok background and was given up for being big and bouncy.

We’ve worked with him for the two years and he’s great in most respects but there’s still a couple of issues. The first is FOOD, when we first got him he wasn’t particularly interested in food and at about 6 months in struggled to get him to eat, he was also having seizures. We discovered some things online about allergies and changed his diet. His seizures stopped and he started loving his food, trouble is he seems hungry all the time to the point where ever we go he’s searching for food. We have a caravan on a seasonal pitch where the dogs are allowed to be loose but we’ve started to get worried about letting him off to play with the other dogs because if someone’s caravan is open he will divert and go inside to find food and won’t leave unless we physically remove him. We weigh him regularly so we know we are feeding him the correct amount of food .... just wondering if anyone else has come across this food obsession?

Also, he doesn’t like travelling in the car. He goes to work with my partner and if it’s just the two of them in the car with our dog in his crate then my partner says he’s quiet. But if I’m in the car he cries and gets very anxious, if other people get in the car then he screeches and pants etc. If he’s in my car with me he’s worse (when we first bought the car he was chilled and silent but has gotten worse again). He settles and is quiet on motorways and long straight roads but it can be a nightmare most journeys. We’ve tried everything from herbal remedies to a dog whisperer but nothing works. Any advice would be welcome as it is difficult to concentrate on the driving. TIA
 

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On food: some dogs are just chow hounds. It works good for training. Other dogs are very picky. My pairs seem to feature one of each. All I have to offer is the suggestion to "use it." as a tool for training (and give your dog something to do.


Racket in the car. ... What can I say? Head for the highway before going anywhere else? Mine anticipate our arrival home. Previous dog was difficult in town. I tried stopping quickly when the noise started. Didn't help. I tried stopping and not going until the noise quit. Didn't help. Some seem to come to associate travel with "something really goood" and the noise is in anticipation
 

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Ok...let's start with the food obsession. Is your dog on seizure medicine? Which? Most Seizure medicines make dogs extremely hungry, although some dogs experience this side effect more with some drugs more than others.



Regarding travelling in the car, given what you describe, I'm thinking he gets motion sickness. Different people drive differently. Some people take curves fast, do jackrabbit starts from stop lights, abruptly change lanes, and go nearly full speed until they get to a red light and then stop quickly. Some people drive -- for a lack of a a better word -- "smoother," They may drive just as fast, but they plan out their moves so the car doesn't jerk around as much, especially on routes they drive regularly. If there are other people in the car, though, that may be distracting and they don't drive as smoothly.



I think that's why your pup is calm on straight roads, predictable routes and with your partner driving normally. But when things change, then he gets carsick. You can ask your vet for a medicine for this, like Dramamine or Cerenia. See if that helps. If the vet agrees, I would try it first with smooth predictable routes. If it is motion sickness, then you want to de-condition the anxiety he's built up from riding in the car feeling sick. Don't just jump in with the drug and a stressful route right away.



Finally, regarding caravan, any time I think my dog can put himself in danger, I don't let him offleash, even if all the other dogs are. I recommend getting him a comfortable harness (like a Ruffwear harness, not a training harness) and a longline, and just keep him tethered to you. Wear a treat pouch and reward him for staying close to you. Train him that *you* are the source of good things in his life (and your partner if they're carrying his longline). We don't want our dogs to scavenge food. Give him a training cue (command) like "snack" so he knows you're the one that he can turn to for (low fat yummy) food.



While you have him on a longline, also train him a recall cue until it's rock solid.



Once your dog has a reliable recall and knows that you'll provide him snacks, you should be able to let him off line. I have beagles, who are always starving, and do this with them. It can take months or longer, but eventually the dog does get it that there is nothing out there better than what I have in my pocket. In the meantime, your dog is always safe.



Good luck


4K9Mom
(formerly 3K9Mom)
 

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Regarding food obsession, I have a cat who's just like that. He'll beg and beg and beg for food, hunt it down, wait by his bowl and scream. He gets fed as much as he needs to not be overweight, and if I were to let him free-feed, he'd eat both his food and our other cat's food before she could even get to it.

Same thing with water. If the water cooler is almost empty, he goes ballistic trying to tell us about it.

Backstory: I adopted this cat from the local shelter when he was a kitten (age unknown due to malnutrition). 24 hours after I brought him home he got very sick and had to be fed food paste and given water with an eye-dropper due to ulcers in his mouth. He was already underweight and half-starved. He had major digestive problems due to the medicines he was given and it took a couple of months to get him sorted out.

Once he got better, food and water became the center of his life. It's like he's terrified of being deprived of it again. Like he's determined he'd never let himself get hungry like that ever again. Like hunger means illness.


So, perhaps that time where your dog was sick and couldn't/didn't eat much changed his attitude towards food. Maybe he's determined to never allow himself to feel like that ever again. Maybe hunger frightens him and he associates being hungry with being sick.

Just a thought. If what I theorize is correct, then the association has to change. Obviously, I'm still having the same problem as you with my cat, but a dog's mind is easier to change than a cat's. So there's greater hope.
 

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IMPO, when an animal is desperately seeking food, there is something going on or missing in the diet. How is your dog's weight and bowel movements? Is your dog neutered? Have you discussed this with your vet or the possibility of adding a vitamin / mineral supplement?Have you considered adding digestive enzymes to your dog's food? This could be the new onset symptoms of something more serious.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks all, no he’s not on seizure medication, as his seizures stopped when we put him on a more natural diet. I did wonder about car sickness but we tried over the counter tablets with no luck. I didn’t realise you could get better ones from the vet! That might be the next step to try.
 
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