Feeding your dog can sometimes be a challenging experience - dogs love to try to gain extra food wherever they can, and sometimes it’s all too easy to let them have their way. Try the following tips to improve feeding time, both for your dog and for yourself:
You can make your dog work for their food by taking her for a walk or run before she eats. Daily exercise will also give your dog a sense of routine – and once she knows what is expected of her, mealtimes will run more smoothly.
Know what to give and what to avoid
Most people know that the theobromine and caffeine in chocolate are harmful to dogs, but did you know that grapes are also lethal to dogs? There are plenty of seemingly innocuous human foods that simply aren’t suitable for canine consumption, and it’s important for any dog owner to know what these are.
Ideally, your dog shouldn’t be eating human food at all, so don’t encourage begging at the table by feeding your dog scraps, or he’ll persist every time you sit down for a meal. Additionally, try to keep your dog on a regular diet. Sometimes, as a dog grows and his dietary needs change, you may need to adjust his diet – but don’t do this too quickly, or his digestive system may be disrupted.
If your dog refuses a certain type of food, ask your vet what your options are. Dogs, like humans, have preferences, and you might need to do a little research to find out what your dog both needs and enjoys.
Reward your dog with healthy goodies
If your dog is behaving herself, there’s nothing wrong with giving her a special reward now and then. However, it’s important to ensure that your dog is eating the right amount of food – if she’s already had a large meal, don’t overindulge her by feeding her extra snacks. Try to stick to organic, healthy treats; this way, even if your dog does end up eating a little more than necessary, at least her treats are good for her body.
When you do reward your dog, remember to do so straight after good behaviour. If you wait too long to reward your dog, she won’t know what she’s being praised for and will be less likely to repeat the ‘good’ activity that led to the reward.
Give your dog his own space
It depends on your dog’s personality type, but some animals prefer to be left alone while they eat. Don’t stress your dog out by crowding him; give him space to enjoy his food, so he associates mealtimes with peace rather than panic.
Photo Credit: Kai-Chieh Chan via Pexels under CC0 License
Follow mealtimes with fun activities
Similar to rewarding your dog with food, why not let her take part in a fun activity with you after she’s eaten? Dogs love to run and play, so why not make a habit of spending time with your dog after mealtimes? If she associates mealtimes with fun activities, she’ll be more likely to finish her meals promptly. Try something that you can both enjoy, like jumping on a trampoline; exercise like this will also help to keep your dog at a healthy weight.
It’s important to give your dog a bit of time to rest after eating before you play with her. If she partakes in physical activity straight after her meals, she may end up with stomach twists, which can be deadly.
If your dog behaves itself and is eating well at mealtimes, your life can only become easier! Once your dog knows what to expect at mealtimes and what they can and can’t get away with, mealtimes will be a breeze for both of you.
Harper Reid is a freelance writer and animal lover from Auckland, New Zealand who especially loves to write about home, family, travel and lifestyle. Find more of Harper’s work here.