Is feeding your dog from a food bowl bad? No, not at all. But, there are so many reasons why it’s right, to feed your dog via alternative methods.
By feeding your dog solely from a food bowl you are missing out on easy opportunities to enrich your dogs life and to address boredom related behaviour issues. When you ditch your dogs food bowl and try alternative methods of feeding your dog you create fun and rewarding mealtimes that can lead to a calmer, happier dog.
Reasons to ditch the food bowl!
Gone in a flash!
Dogs are notorious speedy eaters and sometimes it seems like they can devour their dinner in the blink of an eye! And I know not all dogs are like that but many are and it can be even worse in a multi-dog household or if your dog has resource guarding tendencies.
Eating too fast can cause dogs to vomit after eating and can even be a choking hazard. Plus, if they eat their food in less than a minute, what are they going to do for the rest of the day?
Using alternative feeding options can drastically reduce the speed with which a dog can consume the food. You can spread it out over both time and distance and/or make it more difficult for your dog to access the food.
Food is one of the best rewards for dogs because of the high value they place on food. All dogs are motivated by food to some extent, some more so than others but they all need food to survive. A bowl full of food is a bowl full of rewards and lost opportunities. This food could have been used to reinforce a whole range of good behaviour from your dog during the day whether you were with them or not.
Like humans, dogs can get bored. The difference is, they can’t read a book or watch a show on Netflix to pass the time as we can. Many dogs spend a large portion of the day at home alone while their families are out and work and school, with the dog just waiting for everyone to get home.
A dog home alone can and will get bored easily even if they have access to all their toys. It’s really not that much fun to play tug when there is no-one on the other end of the rope!
And a bored dog can be a destructive dog, a loud, barking dog or even a sad, lethargic dog. None of which are good for the dog or for the humans in their life.
Using your dog’s normal food in different and interesting ways like food toys and games, will keep your dog challenged and active as these activities will take significantly more time for your dog to consume the food than if it was simply placed in the dog bowl. Not only will your dog have less time to be bored but they will also be more satisfied after expending some physical and mental energy on the game or food toy.
There is something instinctually rewarding for dogs who have to problem-solve or search out their food. Dogs love to scavenge around and you can use this to your advantage to encourage them to scent out their meal. Not only is the act of sniffing physically tiring for your dog but your dog will use a lot of brainpower to process the scent too. Plus it’s a great way to burn off excess energy and an easy way for you to provide both physical and mental stimulation for your dog.
Having to think through how to access their food or to even find it in the first place is a wonderful mental challenge for your dog that will leave them happy, satisfied and tired.