Dogs are natural hunters and scavengers – they’re problem-solvers! When we bring dogs into our homes and feed them out of bowls, we’re asking them to do something that goes against what they are programmed to do…they need an enriched environment!
Food is a valuable resource – sure, it sustains life, but it can also enrich environments, create positive associations, reinforce desired behaviours, and be the source of a lot of fun. Every kibble in a bowl is the tragic loss of an opportunity for one of these things above.
Get rid of that food bowl and start enriching your dog’s environment! Give them something to DO. A mentally stimulated dog is a good dog.
If you are currently “free feeding” (food is left out all day and your dog grazes), let’s put an end to that now. For the next week, put their food in a bowl and give it to your dog as you normally do. Set a timer for 10 minutes. When it goes off, check the food – is your dog eating? Is the bowl empty? If you answer “no” to both of those questions, put the food in a sealable container and put it away. At the next meal, put that food back. Repeat until your dog is eating at those structured times.
It might take a few days – even a week! Don’t worry – your dog will not starve (if they ignore food for 3 days they should see the vet regardless, but we’ve never seen that happen!). Once your dog is eating at structured times for a week consistently, switch to feeding out of a food toy! They will be food motivated by that point and the toy will make it a little harder for them!
Here is a list of commonly found food dispensing toys that will keep your pet busy for much longer, utilize their brains and eliminate boredom-based issues, potentially relieve anxiety, and reduce nuisance behaviours such as excessive barking and chewing of inappropriate items. Scroll through the images to see the variety:
- Kong - Original
- Kong - Wobbler
- Kong - Genius Mike Dog Toy
- Kong - Genius Leo Large
- Kong - Satellite
- West Paw - Tux
- Nina Ottosson puzzles
- Busy Buddy Twist & Treat
- Busy Buddy Kibble Nibble
- Buster Cube
- Omega Tricky Treat Ball
- Northmate Interactive Slow Dog Feeder
- Rockin Treat Ball
- Outward Hound Fun Feeder