Every dog owner knows that canines love to eat. Many of them enjoy a treat or two- or more! Most dogs will also make puppy eyes at you when you’ve got your own food and will wolf down their meals with gusto as soon as you put their bowl down.
While this might seem endearing, it can potentially be dangerous. Dogs that eat too fast can be prone to health issues, including choking and bloating, which could be life threatening in some cases.
The first step towards training your dog to eat slowly is to work out why they’re doing it. For some dogs, particularly rescue dogs with a tough past, the issue could be fear or resource guarding. However, some dogs are simply greedy. There are many dog breeds that are prone to obesity, including popular family pets like Labradors and Beagles, and this genetic predisposition can lead them to gobble their food out of pure gluttony.
Whatever the reason, you need to find ways to slow down your dog’s eating. It’s not always easy, but these simple tactics should help you to get started.
Get A Checkup
The first step should be to take your dog for a checkup at the vet. They can see if your dog has any underlying health problems, such as stomach pain or internal parasites. If these issues are the cause, then you can get your dog the treatment they need. On the other hand, if there’s no health concern, then you know that the problem is down to your dog’s behaviour. Once you’ve ruled out any medical issues and know that the problem is a behavioural one, you can start to find ways to deal with it at home.
Try Switching Up Their Diet
A simple strategy to try is to change your dog’s diet. If your dog has plenty of new scents to explore and new textures to try, they might take more time eating than a dog that’s bored with the same flavour of dry kibble. Products like raw dog food can be an ideal choice, as they are designed to be delicious and contain a variety of textures and tastes. Southend Dog Training’s raw dog food range includes a variety of flavours, so you can find ones your dog will enjoy and spend more time savouring.
Give Them Space
Dogs- like most humans- don’t like to be crowded when they eat and prefer a calm and relaxed environement. If your dog is fed in a busy part of the home where there are kids and other pets around, then they might feel that their food could be taken away at any moment. This can lead to dogs eating quickly, so it’s worth finding a quiet space to feed your dog in. If you have multiple dogs or other animals in your household, you should try feeding them separately to make them all feel comfortable and safe. Loud noises can also make dogs feel threatened, so try to put your dog in a quiet area, if possible, to allow them to relax and enjoy their meal.
Use A Slow Feeder Bowl
Traditional metal dog bowls can make it easy for greedy hounds to gobble down their food, so you could try other options. Slow feeder bowls are designed specifically for dogs that eat too fast and are made to make them think about how best to get the food out or chase the kibbles around the grooved surface. As well as helping your dog to eat slowly, these bowls can give them some much-needed mental stimulation, so they’re worth trying. Explore some of the best slow feeder bowls for dogs on the market today to find one that works for your dog. The bowls come in different sizes and shapes, so think about the size of your dog’s nose and face when choosing the best one for them.
Hand Feed Your Dog
If all else fails, you could try hand feeding your dog. You can place a little food in your hand and then give it to your dog. Over time, this can teach your dog to eat slowly and appreciate their meal, which means you won’t have to do it as much. Hand feeding your dog can also be a great way to improve your bond with them, so it’s worth a try. It does take a lot of time to hand feed your dog, but it’s worth exploring, particularly if your pet eats very quickly. If your dog has resource guarding or food anxiety issues, then you need to speak to a dog behaviourist or trainer before you attempt to hand feed them to ensure that you’re both safe.
It’s important that your dog eats, but it’s also crucial that they eat at a reasonable pace. Unfortunately, many dogs enjoy eating their food quickly, either because of a genetic disposition or a fear that it might be taken away from them.
As their owner, you need to find ways to slow down your dog’s eating, and that means thinking about all aspects of meal time. From what they eat to what they eat from and where they have their food, every factor should be considered. Once you’ve tried these techniques, you can explore other solutions, such as moving your dog’s bowl to a new location.
Some tactics might work better than others, so introduce each one slowly to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Even a small change can be good for your dog’s health in the long run, so do your best. Eventually, you’ll find a way to make your dog eat at a reasonable speed and enjoy their delicious food.
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