If your dog has a high drive for eating -- common among terriers and some sporting dogs -- mealtime can seem like a scene from a pie-eating contest. Dogs that eat too fast can gag, cough and vomit the food back up in a completely undigested chunk, only to eat it again. Eating too fast also causes a potentially fatal condition called bloat. Incorporating games and other strategies into your dog's mealtime can help slow the dog’s eating while the two of you bond.
Allow your dog to use his instinctive sense of smell to track down his food: Hide bits of your dog’s food in various spots throughout the house or in the yard. Let your dog track down his supper and eat what he finds. This slows down his eating and stimulates his brain. Vary the game by hiding the dog's food inside objects such as folded or scrunched towels -- use clean, unfrayed towels -- or the type of rubber chew toys commonly called "Kong" toys, which is the brand name for the toy that launched the treat-in-the-toy genre; or hide food under cups or bowls. Your dog will have to find his food and then figure out how to get the food that's in the object.
Provide your dog several toys, such as the aforementioned Kong-brand toys, that hold several pieces of dog food. Or, if your dog eats canned dog food, stuff some of it inside a hollowed-out femur bone, and your dog will have to lick it out. Spread the food toys or filled bones around the floor and your dog expend energy while figuring out how to get the food out of the toys instead of riskily scoffing it in one gulp. Food toys help your dog release nervous energy and stress while providing him with the food he loves.
Use your dog’s mealtime as a training opportunity: Measure out the food your dog eats each day and have a few training exercises throughout the day, using your dog’s food as a reward. When using canned food, scoop up a little bit on your finger and let your dog lick it off as his reward. Make the training a fun time for both of you, teaching a new trick, practicing learned tricks and reinforcing obedience training. Allot an extra five minutes before work to train and treat your dog, and then find five more minutes after work. You don’t have to feed your dog in one sitting. Using up the measured food throughout the day gives your dog the nutrients he needs, and he will look forward to your time together instead of just to quickly eating a bowl of food.
Spread the dog food out on one, two or three large cookie sheets to help slow down your dog’s eating. Rather than gorge in a basin, the dog will have to eat the kibble one piece at a time, working his way across the cookie sheet plain.
If your dog continues vomiting or gagging after your try these alternative feeding methods, consult your veterinarian for any underlying digestive problem your dog might have.
Be creative and invent feeding games to play with your dog, changing them up from time to time. Make them more challenging as he masters each one by choosing more mind-working situations.
Items You Will Need
- Dog food
- Hiding objects
- Food toys
- Plastic containers
- Vinyl tablecloth
- Cookie sheets
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