Nutrition and Behavior
Readers of this book who have young children understand completely the cause-and-effect of what a child eats on his or her behavior. Some believe that too much sugar causes young children to become excited, jittery, and active — and then crash. A dose of junk food will do the same thing. It makes sense, then, that with their high metabolisms and rates of growth, puppies would be affected by what they eat, too.
The principles of sound nutrition are discussed in Chapter 8, which explains what's in dog foods and what to consider when choosing a food for your puppy. The thing about most commercially available kibble is that the nutrients have been cooked right out of them because they are processed at such high temperatures. When you consider that most dogs do not eat a varied diet, and what they do eat may be lacking in elemental nutrients, is it any wonder that so many have skin conditions, or gastrointestinal conditions, behavior issues, or develop illnesses at younger and younger ages?
Dogs can be pretty good self-medicators. If your puppy seems to want to eat dirt or grass frequently, suspect a nutritional imbalance. If she's chewing at her feet, she may be having an allergic reaction to an ingredient in her food. If she gets the “crazies” more often than you think is normal (and remember, at times puppies will madly dash around the house or act silly or out of control), there may be something in the food that's contributing to this behavior.
Ask your veterinarian to run a complete blood test on your pup if she's behaving in a way that seems particularly unusual. Even if you will need to work with a trainer to modify the behavior, it will be worth knowing what's going on inside the body so that it can be addressed, too. This is the holisitic approach in action: body, mind, spirit, environment, and relationships all come into play.