Slow Down Your Dog at Meal Time
Brought to you by the AKC GoodDog! Helpline – the AKC’s 7-day-a-week training support service
By Hilarie Erb, AKC GoodDog! Helpline Trainer
Does your dog inhale food like she has never been fed and may never get a chance to eat again? You might think that since mealtime is the highlight of her day she would savor the moment, but instinct prevents that. Her ancestors could not count on eating more than once a week, and they truly did need to consume as much as possible as fast as possible when they had the chance. Believe it or not, this is better than having a finicky eater. But there are ways to slow down the meals if gobbling down food too fast is causing problems.
“Food puzzle toys are a good solution and add the benefit of turning mealtimes into mental stimulation.”
Bloat is a life-threatening emergency that can be caused when dogs gulp down air along with their food, and some dogs, especially large, deep-chested breeds, are more prone to this. If yours is one of these, you should find ways to slow down his eating. Food puzzle toys are a good solution and add the benefit of turning mealtimes into mental stimulation. There are “slow feeder” bowls available too. These have raised textures and shapes that make your dog work to extricate the food. There are many choices; shop around to find what best suits your dog. You may want more than one just to keep things interesting.
Get creative and make your own slow feeder! Instead of feeding from a bowl, spread kibble on a cookie sheet. This will force your dog to pick up just one or two kibbles at a time. You can also use a muffin tin, putting a few kibbles in each cup. Or put a few dog toys and balls into a larger bowl with the food, forcing your dog to nudge them around to eat the food.
Hand-feeding is also a good way to control how fast your dog consumes his dinner. It also is a great way to bond with your dog and to prevent resource guarding of the dog’s food bowl. Whether for safety or fun, you might as well take advantage of this enthusiasm for dining by making your dog’s mealtimes more interesting.
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For more tips and advice on training your dog, join the AKC GoodDog! Helpline, a seven-day-a-week telephone support service staffed by experienced dog trainers: www.akcgooddoghelpline.org.
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