Food Bowl? Throw It To The Dogs!
Imagine this scenario: a first time dog owner is about to buy all the things his new puppy will need. He gets a doggy bed, a leash and a collar, some toys, a bag of dog food, a water bowl and… a food bowl. This is the very first mistake people do. We don’t need food bowls and we certainly shouldn’t be using them. If your dog is eating from one of these horrible objects, throw it away! Confused? Let me explain.
The dog’s ancestor spent most of his day scavenging and searching for food. When we look at animals in their natural habitat, we see that food-related activities tend to occupy a considerable amount of their time. When it comes to dogs, they’re not so different. According to some studies, when given the opportunity, most dogs will choose to work for their food instead of getting it all for free. And do we do when we put our dog’s food on a bowl? We give it all for free. Some dogs will eat it in five seconds. If you share your life with a Labrador Retriever, you know what I’m talking about. The dog eats the food and, suddenly, something that should have kept him occupied for a few hours is gone in seconds. Most dogs live in a constant state of boredom and under-stimulation. They have nothing to do and, as a consequence, behavioral problems such as excessive barking, digging, chewing and destroying household items, may appear.
On the other hand, if the dog is not that much food-motivated, he may eat a few grains and then the food may remain on the bowl for a couple more hours. Food bowls are the perfect tool to use if you want your dog to lose interest in food. It shouldn’t be this way; after all, food is an extremely important resource for dogs. If you remove its value, you’ll be wasting a phenomenal reinforcement that could be used to trainhim.
So, what’s the alternative? Anything that motivates the dog to work, if he wishes to have access to the food. Feed him through training sessions: teach him basic obedience commands or even some funny tricks. Training techniques such as shaping will make him think and it’s an amazing form of mental stimulation. Use food dispensers! Place your dog’s food inside an empty water bottle and let him use his paws and muzzle to get the food. You can also buy balls or other objects designed to work this way. There are a lot of different models available out there. You can also use the food to reward your dog for behaving appropriately. Catch him being good and reward him for that!
Having to work for their food is an excellent way to mentally stimulate our dogs. Imagine you have to sit on a room, day after day, doing absolutely nothing. Wouldn’t you love if someone suddenly offered you a game, a book or a TV? Don’t waste your dog’s food… get rid of the food bowl! You’ll be amazed with the results.
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