What does ‘feeding with a purpose’ mean? What does it entail? What are the benefits?
Most people feed their dog out of a bowl 1-3 times a day. What if I told you that there was a better way? What if I told you that each piece of kibble could represent a training opportunity? Imagine how often you would be reinforcing good behaviours with just one meal!
I challenge you, for one week, to take the daily food and use it for training opportunities. For example, my dog eats ¼ cup of food twice a day, so I would take the ½ cup total and put it in a ziplock bag. Then any time (and I mean ANY time) that day, your dog does something you like (sits when asked, is laying down calmly or even just looks cute) give your dog one piece of that kibble. If they do something extra nice, like quickly responding to their name, you could give a jackpot reward of a couple pieces (3-8) of kibble one right after the other.
Imagine how many opportunities you have to reward your dog for things you prefer them to do. Imagine how the value you have added to yourself as the giver of food. Imagine all the things your dog will do more often because they were just rewarded for it.
But what if my dog eats several cups of food a day? What if there aren’t as many opportunities as there are kibble? Well hold on folks, there are other ways to reward our dogs. Licking, sniffing and chewing can be super relaxing for dogs.You can take some of that food and wet it so it gets soft, spoon it into a food toy (example Kong® or kong-like toy), and freeze it. Now when you are on that zoom meeting or need a moment to yourself, pop that kong out of the freezer and give it to your dog as a treat. This is a nice calm activity that keeps on giving.
Here are some other examples of ways you can use the food:
- Puzzle toys
- Snuffle mat
- Licky mat
- Scatter feed either inside or in safe place outdoors
- Treat dispensing toys
A quick google search on canine enrichment will give you tons of new ideas. The possibilities are endless and the relationship you build with your dog is priceless.
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