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Food Bowl Friendliness

Many people have heard the advice that when you get a puppy or dog, you should occasionally stick your hand in his bowl, or take his food away. The Dog Trainer discusses a better way to promote friendliness around the bowl.

By
Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA,
November 29, 2012

Food Bowl Friendliness

by Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Many people have heard the advice that when you get a puppy or dog, you should occasionally stick your hand in his bowl, or take his food away. The idea is to teach your dog that the food is yours.

But repeatedly sticking your hand in your dog’s food or taking the bowl away is annoying. We all know (don’t we?) that poking a dog over and over again while he’s trying to rest qualifies as pestering, and that many normally even-tempered dogs will get fed up if we pester them. So why should we take an All Your Base Are Belong To Us tack with respect to our dogs’ food?

We shouldn’t. Of course, we want our dogs “not to guard their food.” What “not guarding” looks like may vary from person to person, but most of us would probably be pleased to see our dogs remain relaxed if we pass by when they’re eating, or even if we grab their bowl because we suddenly realize we accidentally put the roast in it instead of in the roasting pan.

If you have a puppy or a new dog, and you want to promote friendliness around the food bowl, try this: Once or twice a day, while he’s eating, walk past and drop a small piece of meat, fish, cheese, or other delicacy into the bowl. (Near his bowl is fine if your aim isn’t good!) After a couple of dozen reps, your dog may start to look up happily when you approach. At that point, you can mix it up – every so often, instead of dropping that treat from the heavens, pick up the bowl, put three or four delicious treats in it, and give it back to your dog.

Does your dog already guard his bowl? In that case, get qualified, in-person help.

 

Dog with Food photo from Shutterstock.

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