Training Tip: Get Rid of Your Dog’s Food Bowl

Training Tip: Get Rid of Your Dog’s Food Bowl

When you have a new dog or puppy, using their food early on, gives you dozens of positive reinforcement opportunities to teach good manners or obedience at every single meal. Don’t let them go to waste by feeding out of a bowl. You can use your dog’s meals to teach/reinforce sit,down,stay, leave it, come (recall) as well as teach your new pet that humans of all sizes and shapes (if you are using assistants from your household, friends, and family) means great things happen (perfect for dog – human social opportunities). 

To start, fix your dog’s meal as you normally would. If it is kibble, simply grab a handful, if it is a mix of wet and kibble, raw, or hand made, you can use a regular spoon, wooden spoon, or brand new fly swatter (length is especially good for those with tiny dogs) to deliver the food. 

To do a simple recall, you would back away from your dog a step or two, call your dog, and when he/she walks towards you, offer the food. Do this 5-6 times (less than 5 minutes of training) and then you can feed the rest in a food toy or puzzle. You can add distance by backing up more than a few steps, and add distractions, or by backing up into a different room, down a hallway, or even the back yard. Don’t go too far, too fast. You want your dog to be successful 100% of the time. This is a foundation skill.

If there is food left, consider feeding out of a food puzzle, or food toy. A Kong, for instance, could be filled with the remainder of the meal. This can be given while you go about getting your own breakfast, or get ready for work. It keeps your new pet from being underfoot, but still involved with the daily activity of your household. If you offer it on his/her bed or crate, you create a positive association for her/his resting place. 

Feeding out of a food puzzle extends the length of time the dog eats, usually one of the most favorite activities for dogs. I works his/her mind, and is often relaxing, particularly those toys and puzzles the dog can chew on, like a Kong. Consistently offering food toys in the places you wish for the dog to relax, leads to a dog that soon learns to settle down, relax, and still be a part of a family.