Walk A Pup Blog
I think we can all agree that wolves were the ancestors of dogs, and through a long road of domestication, we have managed to create chihuahuas? Wow, that must have been some road! But we have also attempted to humanize our dogs'diets and feeding rituals as well. I'm pretty sure a wolf would have no idea what to do with a ceramic bowl with bones painted on the side of it, but most pet dogs would follow me around the entire house, if I had one in my hands. This is because over centuries and centuries of domestication, our dogs have learned to live off of our scraps! Even the wild street dogs (that are quite popular in the North East shelters) fight one another for human garbage, instead of hunting together in packs.
Well, whether it's kibble, wet food, raw food, or your leftovers, I've found that dispensing a dog its daily portion of food through reinforcing behaviors that are mutually beneficial, is one of the most rewarding ways to feed them. Say good bye to the dog bowl and replace it with an attentive, well behaved dog that enjoys your company and wants to succeed. After all that domestication, the instinctual need to work for their keep is still a very powerful drive. When we are consistently providing our pet dogs with their food by engaging them with challenging activities, we are building the value of our relationship as partners while simultaneously giving our dogs a mental workout! So, get that old treat pouch or apron out, fill it with the daily portion of kibble, and hit the streets!! With my Weimaraner Nesta, I like to practice quick directional changes while loose leash walking and randomly rewarding when she stays in "heel". Or getting a 30 second "sit-stay" in a new environment and letting her eat 1/4 of the portion as a jackpot for succeeding. Another favorite is going to the park and letting her run, just so I can practice long distance recalls with distractions. I'll let her run free for a few, then call her back, tons of praise, a few pieces of kibble or meat, a huge rub down, then set her free to roam again! She loves to come back to me, no matter when I call her, sometimes she gets food, sometimes she gets a ball thrown, sometimes she gets a toy to tug, but it's always fun and she loves the "work".
Along with the benefit of developing your thriving relationship with your dog, dispensing portions of food slowly throughout the day as rewards for good behaviors will not only help form good habits, but also:
- Help prevent digestive problems from eating too fast.
- Help prevent dental problems and plaque build up by allowing the dog to chew properly.
- Help prevent obesity and problems due from being overweight.
- Help build more reliable behaviors on cue.
- Help save you money!!? I haven't investigated that one yet, but I'm betting it would somehow! ;)
So, say good bye to the food bowl, and just go and love on your dog!