Feeding and Enrichment for Dogs

What does ditching the dog bowl mean?


Instead of feeding your dog in a bowl, use the food in other ways to help you with your training and enrichment. You can ditch the bowl with all ages and breeds, including puppies.


Why bother to ditch the bowl?


Food has an immense value to most dogs, and you can use this value to improve your dog’s life. By gaining food by different methods other than from a bowl, they can learn faster, be mentally stimulated and have a more enriched life.

Contra freeloading is a term used when dogs prefer food that requires effort to obtain. This means that given the choice, they would rather earn their food than be given it for free and this leaves them happy, mentally stimulated, and much more likely to behave in a positive way. Contra freeloading is real, it happens with many animals, not just dogs and it is a desirable behaviour to mature.

Fussy eaters often eat better when they achieve food via alternative ways to a bowl. They gain more interest in the food and consequently, they can also become easier to train. Dogs on limited exercise such as following injury or surgery massively benefit from receiving their food via methods other than from their bowl. This is due to being kept occupied for longer periods, plus the contra freeloading effect helps them to use their brains.


How often should I ditch the bowl?


The answer to this is whatever works for you! Some people never use the bowl but instead use all the daily food allowance for training and enrichment activities and some ditch the bowl a couple of times a week. There are no exact requirements, so you can fit it into your individual circumstances and even change it week to week.

In general, though, the more that you can do it the greater your training results will be and you should see more of many other benefits too. Dogs that earn their food are often calmer, more content and less likely to display unwanted behaviours.


What if I feed Raw?


You can still ditch the bowl! Whether you use kibble or raw, all dogs benefit from this approach. Kibble can be easier for training but there are ways around this for raw fed dogs. You can use dried meat, fruit and vegetables, squeeze tubes (empty tomato sauce bottle to put the raw meat in with a bit of water), feed from a spoon or use a washable pouch and wear gloves.


Enrichment feeding your dogs.


You can use a snuffle mat indoors or just literally scatter food on the floor. Outside you can scatter food on the short grass, to begin with, then once you have a pro sniffer dog, try it in longer grass too.

Vary the difficulty and always make sure some of the food is easy to find. Observer your dog to make sure that they are finding all their food but leave them to search for it for themselves. Scatter feeding can be used on walks and when out on a day trip, you can reinforce calm behaviour in new environments including the pub.😊


Interactive toys.


There are lots of toys that dispense food slowly and require your dog to make an effort to receive it. Kong wobbler can be used for training or play.


Justine Shone

JP Holistic Nutrition

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