The Bowl is Boring

Dogs can lose enthusiasm for their food after a time.  Sometimes this is a result of constant accessibility.  Sometimes, the food simply isn’t all that palatable.  Puppies become distracted by the flurry of household activities in the mornings and evenings.  Unless they are famished, people and objects are more compelling.  Unfortunately, with puppies, structured mealtimes are an important component of a successful house training program.

While the bowl is a conventional and convenient means of delivering meals, it’s also very “ho-hum”…… boring.  All animals (us, too!) consider mealtimes to be highlights of the day.  Many dogs appear to inhale the meal in less than one minute.  So much for extending the highlight of the day……. This practice is unhealthy and is a culprit for bloat.

Dinner Choices:  Take it or Leave it

Constant food bowl accessibility devalues the food.  Chances are good that the dog doesn’t love that particular kibble.  Before switching foods, switch the delivery device.  Dogs’ favorite problem solving puzzle is searching for food.  Watch your dog snuffle his way along any grassy area.  Scavenging around the garbage and shredding paper are super fun for dogs and part of food foraging activities.  Take up the food bowl and substitute with a Kong Classic.  This beginner food foraging toy is the best way to introduce your dog to a more fun and healthy way to eat his meals. 

Give your dog 15-20 minutes to consume his meal from the Kong.  It’s likely that he will remain engaged and eat the kibble that he would have left sitting in his boring bowl.  If your dog is four years of age or older, you may have to boost his motivation by adding a few bites of chicken or cheese in the mix.  Leaving established patterns and learning new skills often requires a dose of motivation.  Don’t be quick to resume bowl feeding if your dog doesn’t take to the Kong immediately.  Some dogs have to “discover” the fun over a few days. 

Make It a Game

Puppies and young dogs are always on the prowl for fun and novel activities.  Puppies can forage meals from a Kong Classic (get the red one instead of the puppy version) in the crate or playpen.  It’s fun and engaging for them, and they are contained in the crate to limit options.  Meals are consumed when they are offered at particular mealtimes.  Grazing makes it next to impossible to predict when potty place trips should happen.  Food foraging toys also teach puppies appropriate chewing preferences. 

So Many Choices!

Thankfully, the Kong Classic is the tip of the food foraging toy iceberg.  From simple to complex, there are countless options:  discs, balls, bones, puzzles and many others.  Avoid packing food in so tightly that the toy is too frustrating.  The goal is successful persistence.

Be as creative as you like with the Kong Classic.  It can be “stuffed” with kibble and many other yummy foods.  Smear the top and inside edges with peanut butter, cream cheese, liverwurst, or chicken baby food.  You can make Kong smoothies and freeze that for a puppy popsicle.  Unleash your creativity.


Copyright © Kimberly B. Mandel   CPDT-KA, 2019 all rights reserved

Kimberly Mandel Canine Behavior and Training LLC