Everyone buys their new puppy a food bowl and if you come to classes with me I’ve already said to you use it for something else, anything other than feeding your pup!
Weigh out your pups daily food ration and keep it in various containers about the house and then when you see your pup doing something you like, especially relaxing or playing nicely on their own with a chew toy you always have something to hand to reward their good behaviour.
Dog training is simplest if you remember – you get the behaviours you reward...
You do want to have scheduled meal times too so you can guarantee that your pup is peckish at certain times of the day and that’s when you should have your daily training practice sessions. What if you just don’t have the time or the energy though? We’ve all been there, the temptation is to pop the food down in a bowl, job done - right?
Here’s a better plan...when you can’t train make sure to feed your puppy only from a hollow chew toy.
Feeding your puppy only from hollow chew toys rather than a bowl will have an immediate and enormous positive effect on your puppy’s behaviour and temperament and I have just reminded myself of this with my youngster Jim!
Jim is a high energy dog always ready and waiting for action just like most puppies!
The evidence is that as a general rule, bowl-fed puppies often become overly excited prior to meal times and gobble too much food at one time, which is decidedly unhealthy. On the other hand, chew toy-fed puppies tend to be less destructive, quieter, calmer and less likely to get bloat or develop separation anxiety.
Feeding your pup from a chew toy rather than a bowl helps ensure your puppy learns to enjoy down-time alone and that you prevent the BIG FOUR Behaviour Problems: House Soiling, Destructive Chewing, Excessive Barking and Hyperactivity.
Teaching your puppy to enjoy chewing chew toys is pretty easy; feed your puppy only from hollow chew toys and initially, make it very easy for your puppy to get the food out.
Put a dozen pieces of dry kibble into a Kong and let your puppy investigate. Occasionally prod the Kong with your finger so that a couple of pieces of kibble fall out. Soon your puppy will start to nose the Kong. Once your puppy gets the idea and can quickly empty a Kong containing dry kibble, stuff the Kong so that the food is a little more difficult for your puppy to get out. A well-stuffed chew toy is one that delivers food slowly, so that the Kong “trains” your puppy for a long time.
These are the toys I like for feeding dry kibble:
#Petsafe Squirrel Dude toys
#Boomer Snack Ball
The classic Kong is a great chew toy for stuffing with anything else especially moistened kibble and then freezing.
Other good chew toys are Kong Biscuit Balls (wonderful for stuffing with chunky foods and raw diet), and antlers. Antlers are attractive in their own right and do not need to be stuffed with food. They are expensive, (given that they regularly drop off deer!), but nonetheless, worth their weight in gold because dogs love them and they last for ages.
So here’s the plan:
1. Measure out your pup’s daily allotment of kibble in the morning and put it in containers so that family members know that the kibble may be used as lures and rewards throughout the day for teaching basic manners and whenever your pup is doing something nice you like.
2. Give your puppy a stuffed chew toy every time you confine him / her to the playpen / doggy den / crate.
3. Feed your puppy at scheduled meal times from stuffed chew toys.
Here’s the benefits:
1. Feeding your dog only from Kongs prevents destructive chewing:
Each piece of food extracted from the chew toy rewards your puppy for chewing the chew toy and of course, chewing Kongs is mutually exclusive to chewing anything else. Since your pup now spends most of the time chewing Kongs, there is little time for house and property destruction!
2. Kong-feeding prevents excessive recreational barking:
When puppies chew, they normally lie down, calmly and quietly. Consequently, each piece of food that comes out of the Kong, also rewards the dog for lying down and for not barking.
3. Kong-feeding helps with house training:
Since the puppy is lying down he / she will be less likely to feel the urge to eliminate while in confinement. Consequently, once you wake him / her up, you can show your puppy where to eliminate and reward him / her for doing so.
4. Finally, the most wonderful thing about feeding from Kongs is that the Kong continues to “train” your puppy even when you’re not there, i.e., when your puppy is left at home alone.
It is beyond essential that your pup learns that it’s OK to be on his / her own, i.e. you prevent separation anxiety which can be absolutely crippling for afflicted dogs and which can be really challenging and extremely time-consuming and difficult to cure, especially with adolescent and adult dogs.
Kong-feeding helps prevent separation anxiety as it rewards your puppy for lying down, being calm and quiet and focusing on the task at hand (Kong- chewing) rather than fretting about being alone. Moreover, after chilling and chewing a Kong, most puppies fall asleep.
Once your puppy becomes a “Kongaholic” and enjoys having all meals from Kongs, he / she now has a hobby to help wile away the inevitable hours that he / she is likely to be left alone as an adult.
If you teach your dog to enjoy time alone with Kongs in short-term and long- term confinement as a puppy, then he / she won’t freak out when left at home alone as an adult. Instead, your dog will enjoy time alone with a Kong hobby to keep him / her occupied in the comfort of your home.
So, the solution to puppy chewing, barking, hyperactivity and preventing separation anxiety? – feed your puppy only from Kongs and turn him / her into a “Kongaholic”!