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  • Writer's pictureAnimal Ark Copthorne

Ditching The Food Bowl

Updated: Jan 14

Are you a new owner, which has recently gone to get your new furry friends supplies and assumed you need a bowl for food and a bowl for water?

Have you thought about trying to mimic the natural environment of our canine friends?

Lots of people we see typically put their dogs’ food in a bowl on the floor. The dog eats this without thinking much about it, without doing anything for it.

Some breeds are also known to gulp down their food incredible fast which in turn increases the changes of health issues.

Learning Through Play

Every interaction, every event, every moment is an opportunity for your dog to learn and grow. Dogs love to work for their food, this is their natural instinct.

Dogs evolved from wolfs millions of years ago, in the wild they feed little and often for any scraps of food they find.

Giving your dog the chance to work for their food taps into their instinct, gives them independence, and show us humans their intelligence. Working their brain, moving physically and growing in confidence. All things you can’t achieve from the food bowl.

‘I can’t ditch the bowl’

Everything is possible if you put your mind to it, you can even ditch the food bowl if you feed your dog raw food.

Ditching the food bowl is accessible to everyone, those that don’t have enough time, those dogs that require medication, those new puppies and even senior dogs. With a little bit of prior planning, using your imagination and of course having a whole heap of fun.

Starting Post

If you feel that throwing your dogs’ bowl in the bin is something you’re not ready for yet. Do not fear – Take it one step at a time. You will soon see how much enjoyment it is for you and your dog, allowing the opportunity to bond over food.

Here are four ideas to get you started.

Morning Mayhem

Morning times can be a stressful time in the household, everyone has somewhere to be and aim to get their on time. In the morning routine you try to find the time to feed your dog, why would you think about ditching the food bowl here?

The answer is, this is where one of the easiest and fun games that your dog can do independently comes into mind. Scatter feeding.

Scatter feeding is a concept so easy that is gets over looked. However it works your dogs body and brain. It gets them using their senses, which is a great way of calming your dog.

When they find their first piece of food, then another and then another, their behaviour is being reinforced. This game also boost their ability to cope and build their confidence. What more could you want for less than five minutes of scatting food?

Ensure you pick an environment which is safe for your dog to hunt for their food. The back garden is a perfect place- between the blades of grass. Simply take a portion of your dogs’ food allowance and throw in around the area. The bigger the area the longer it will take your dog to hunt for it. If you are a new to this way of feeding I suggest you start off small and expand as they get more confident and learn the game.

If the garden isn’t an option why not try scatter the food in a rolled up towel or a box of balls?

Throughout The Day

The morning mayhem is complete and you working day begins. You may need you dog to be calm and relaxed, while you are in the office or doing the house work. These situations are the perfect time for reward training and using your dog food allowance throughout the day.

Simply feed your dog when they make good choices- such as not reacting to something that would have triggered a reaction from them. You can reward them for behaviours you would like to see and when they have made good choices without worrying about additional calories they are consuming as you are just using from their daily food allowance – which is based on their size, breed and activity level.

Everything becomes an opportunity to learn and with that you are building and reinforcing they life in a fun way.

Rewarding On Walks

Being outside with your dog is a great time to work and build on different concepts in their brain that will lead on to a calm and happy canine, which you always dreamed off.

Every event of interaction you come across on a walk can affect your dogs’ stress level, we all know that when their stress level builds they can act in ways you would not expect. The great news is you can use your dogs’ daily allowance to control how it effects your dog.

From turning it from a negative to a positive – How great is that?

It’s also known as distraction, mark and treat. A way of letting your dog know that whatever happens, it is good.

To start with, a little bit of playing in the home where the environment is controlled. Allowing your dog to learn the concept before going outside. Find a calm word such a nice, good or clever. By saying the word and then giving your dog some food. Your dog will learn the connection that you say that word and they receive some food.

As they learn this add a distraction, something that isn’t too challenge for example a toy moving in the back ground. As soon as the toy appears, say the word and treat. Continue this marking the decision of not interacting or reacting to the distraction. As they learn this make it more difficult for example a ball being bounced. They will begin to understand, giving you the interaction they will receive food, which is more interesting.

Now you ready to take the rewarding outside. Remember to ensure you always aware and tuned into what is going on in the environment. Keeping your eyes and ears open for anything that might prompt your dog to react. This is the perfect time to mark and treat, allowing the dog to learn to stay calm.

Why don’t you step it up a notch with an original fun game? This games is great for focus and relationship building.

Simply throw a piece of dog food out, let your dog run up to it and eat it. As they finish eating, call them to you. As they approach, throw another piece of food between your legs. They will run through your legs to get the food. As they do turn to face them, call them once they have finished eating the food and repeat.

A high energy, fun game which teaches your dog recall skills.

The Evening Has Arrived

After a busy, fun learning day. It’s time for some calm. Let use up the rest of our dogs’ pot of value to create a chilled out evening for our dogs.

Calm mats are a good tool for helping your dog to relax. A small amount of food spread over the matt lasts ages and even longer if you freeze it. The repetitive licking is soothing for your pet.

In addition to this it also helps to promote fresh breath by scraping off bacteria and undigested food particles from the tongue. As well as stimulating their saliva production which helps clean their teeth, gums and aid is digestion.

Otherwise you could also provide them will a Kong filled with food, lasting longer if you freeze it. These are a personal favourite and act like a fun mind game for your dog.

Ditching The Bowl

These are just some way you can ditch the bowl and build your dogs’ confidence. There are many more making the possibilities endless.

Every day is a school day; every moment has the opportunity for learning; we miss so many moments by feeding our friends from a bowl. So why don’t you ditch the bowl and embrace the fun interactions you can have with your dog?

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