Food in a Bowl Can Be So Much More
Some dogs eat so fast that when they’re done they look at you and say, “You kidding me? That’s it?”
Others won’t touch the food you put down because it’s SO lame for a predatory animal to eat something that just sits there.
The Myth: Feeding is feeding. Just give the dog a meal – she’ll eat, drink, and be merry.
The Real Deal: Mealtimes are a great opportunity to train obedience, give your dog mental exercise, build a deeper bond, satisfy hunting instincts, or increase the appetite of a dog that turns her nose up at dog food.
Saavy dog owners turn mealtimes into something special.
Here are a few easy ways you can do it:
1. Ditch the food bowl. Put the meals in a Busy Buddy or Nina Ottosson toy. Just fill the toy with food and then your dog has to play with it to make the food fall out. Hint: set up the toy so it’s easy at first. Increase difficulty as your dog figures out smarter ways to dispense the food faster. Very fun to watch!
2. Scatter your dog’s food all over the backyard. This was a favorite of my Husky-Shepherd mix, Eli. He would hunt down every last piece of kibble. It is amazing to see how talented dogs are with their noses. Believe me, if your dog is into his meals, he will find every bite. Yes, even in the uncut grass. Like all new games, make it easy at first (just a few small piles), then increase difficulty (scatter!).
3. Check out the Eat Slow Bowl. This will make meals last longer. More fun for the dog and also safer for dogs that are prone to bloat from gobbling too much, too fast.
4. Make mealtime a training session and use the food as a reward. Teach basic obedience. Or how about tricks? Just make it fun and interesting. Use one piece of kibble (or one lick of wet food off a spoon) as a reward for each task well done. This practice will really enhance your bond and give your dog a chance to learn new skills.
The Wrap: Mealtimes are a chance for your dog to do more than just stand over a bowl. Try the ideas above that best fit your dog and your lifestyle. You’ll see for yourself that the increased mental exercise will make your dog happy and improve his behavior. If he’s a really naughty pooch, at the very least he’ll be out of trouble during the time he’s eating!