In most people's experience, dogs tend to eat just about anything (whether it is edible or not). While our senses of taste, smell, and hearing all combine for a pleasurable mealtime experience, one may wonder how dogs perceive different types of foods, and whether a crunch or a crumble in texture will make a difference.
When we think about the foods and treats meant for our dogs, they tend to be dry, crumbly, and crunchy. So while we may crave atmosphere and ambience when eating meals, do dogs crave just as much? Or is simplicity in our dog's world just as pleasurable? Read on to find out!
Signs Your Dog Can Taste Crumbly Food
As your doggo's human it is your responsibility to be astute to your dog's needs, wants, and general well-being. Ultimately, our pup's rely on us for everything. When it comes to a dog's preferences in food, sadly, they lack the vocabulary to tell us what is good and what is not. Therefore, it is important to watch your pup's behavior during mealtime and consider how your training and decisions may also play a role in your dog's dining experience.
If your dog tends to enjoy crumbly food, it won't take you long to notice. When your dog is begging, watch your pup's ears. The ears may move and point forward, then move to the back. This may be a sign of anticipation or even confusion as to whether or not you will be providing wanted food.
Some dogs will do a little dance when they are begging for a treat or a meal. A dog that is a little more straightforward may even nudge or bark until what they want is given. If the treat is being delayed, your dog may even stare at the food and whimper.
Ultimately, what behaviors are exhibited depend on how your pooch is trained, what manners you accept, and what behaviors you disapprove of.
The Science Behind a Dog's Taste
While humans have about 9,000 taste buds, man's best friends only have about 1,706 taste buds. This means that our pooches have a palate six times inferior to ours! Our dogs have taste buds on the very tips of their tongues, giving them the same taste classifications that we humans have: bitter, sweet, sour and salty flavors.
Even further, dogs also have special taste buds that are designed for tasting water. While we lack this special tasting capability, dogs, cats, and other carnivores have these fancy water taste buds. These taste buds are located on the tip of the tongue - the spot where it curls as your pooch laps water.
While this sensory pad reacts to water at all times, it gets heightened and sensitive after your pup ingests salty or sugary food. Researchers believe that this is because when dogs roamed wild and free, they would need more water after eating certain foods that would dehydrate them.
However, most important to your dog's taste is its sense of smell! Taste and smell are very closely related and because dogs have such highly sensitive noses, it makes sense that they receive more info about their food from smelling rather than tasting.
Dogs have a membrane inside of their noses which captures molecules and sends impulses to their brain. This, combined with a special organ on the dog’s palate, gives dogs the ability to taste certain smells. So, regardless of how something tastes, if it smells good to a dog, your pup will likely gobble it up.
When it comes to a dog tasting wet versus dry food, there is not really a taste difference between textures. Your pup's preference may be more an outcome from early feeding experiences, the range of foods offered by owners, and the health of the dog. While dry food tends to be convenient and simple, wet foods may be better if your dog has digestive or dental issues. Your dog will have the best taste associated with crumbly foods if the food is fresh!
Training Your Dog to Have Good Eating Habits
Eating habits in your pooch are learned rather than innate. As your dog's human, it is your responsibility to teach your dog to have good manners and mealtime behaviors. Nobody likes a pampered pup who has picky eating behaviors or a dog that jumps or bullies friends and family into sharing foods that can negatively affect your dog.
Teaching good habits from the get-go is important as an owner. Young puppies, less than 4 months of age, need to be fed 3 times a day. Once your pup reaches 4 months, two meals a day is healthy. Some trainers and animal behaviorists believe that humans should eat their meals before the dog to demonstrate leadership.
It is important to teach your dog to stay away from the table while you are eating your food and do not share your table food with your dog. While it might seem tempting to share with your adorable, begging pooch, you are only reinforcing bad behaviors, bad manners, and possibly, giving your pup foods that are not good for your dog's health. Allowing them to jump up, put paws on the table, or annoy guests is simply allowing bad behaviors to persist.
If your dog already has bad feeding behaviors, you can correct their manners: Teach your dog to understand that no other options exist. Set out your dog’s food for 30 minutes. If it isn't eaten, take it away. When it’s time for your dog’s next meal, set out the food again and take it away in 30 minutes, whether it is eaten or not. In a day or two, your dog may start checking around for extra treats. Don’t give in - your dog isn’t starving. If hungry, your dog will eat!
By Olivia Gerth
Published: 05/16/2018, edited: 04/06/2020