Why you should ditch the food bowl!
The traditional dog food bowl just became obsolete! Yes it’s easy, efficient and mindless, and that’s not a bad thing but I think there is something better. I hear too many times that “My dog just swallows their food without even chewing it,” or “My dog is chewing on my shoes and the couch and the table chairs plus my base boards, have any suggestions to have them stop that?” Among a conversation about routine, exercise and food motivation I would suggest, food puzzles and food rationed training.
You can buy food puzzles from your local pet store or online, but the purpose of a food puzzle is to challenge your dog to think about how they have to manipulate that particular object to receive food. There is no free access to the food like a regular food bowl, which stimulates your dog’s brain and in turn will drain some of their mental energy. By leaving several food toys for your dog when you leave the house will encourage your dog to chew and play with their designated toys instead of your house and furniture because their toys just became a higher value by dispensing food. Puzzles can also help alleviate some dogs’ anxiety of separation from you by just keeping them busier longer. You can find several types of puzzles like these and many more.
Food Rationed Training:
In conjunction with the food puzzles or on its own, training with your dog's food throughout the day can be a great way to have your dog work for their food but also encourage more small training sessions. You set aside the proper amount of food for the day in a plastic bag or training pouch and use their kibble as a reward for sitting or laying down ect. Now this option is for those dogs that are highly motivated by food because sometimes the normal kibble for a dog isn’t motivating enough for them to work for. If you start this type of training when your dog is a pup they will get used to only eating out of your hand and throughout the day for working. This solves several problems, they won’t be able to just inhale their food, training is being accomplished more often, and getting your dogs attention will be easier, and if you have a reactive dog, getting their attention is key. So lets say you don’t have time for training in the morning before work. In that case you could ration out half of your dogs daily amount for food puzzles and toys and the other half for training when you get home. This is just one more option for you and your dog which could really improve your dog's behavior and your dedication to training.
Both Food rationed training and food puzzles are a wonderful tool to have in your arsenal for working with your dog who is high strung, smart and gets themselves into trouble because of a lack of mental stimulation and physical exercise. They are also a great tool for the dog that just needs more
structure in their life. No matter your situation any dog would benefit from these tools because they drain mental energy, which will make for a happier dog. I always equate a dog sitting around all day with nothing to do to a human who sits on the couch for days on end with no TV, phone, or books to read which we could all imagine would cause us to go crazy too. So here is to ditching the food bowl and getting creative with how your dog will work for their food.
From one pooper scooper to another- Jayson