You know those AHA! moments in life? That amazing feeling when everything clicks, we know we did something right, and/or we finally understand something. Well, have you ever thought to yourself that maybe your dog would like to feel that seem bliss? You might not be the only one who likes to feel smart or like they're accomplishing something. Your dog wants to accomplish things in life too!
Researchers in Sweden conducted a study to see if dogs preferred food being put in a bowl and on the floor or if they preferred working for their food. The research showed that dogs actually much prefer working for their meals instead of an easy payday! Obviously our dogs are typically happy to get their food in the bowl. However, if you take 5-15 minutes out of your day for their breakfast and dinner, you can enrich your dogs life so much and help yourself out in the process. After all, this is a perfect opportunity to train new skills daily and tire their brains out! Making them better around the house because you are building a better relationship, their starting to understand your expectations, and a tired dog is a much easier dog to live with than one who is not properly stimulated!
Ways to live bowl free
Tricks for Treats
When you put your dog's food in a bowl and put it on the ground you are just rewarding boring, useless bowl. Instead, you could use this as an opportunity to grow the relationship between you and your dog by helping them learn more commands and tricks. You can grow their sit, stay, down, recall and more into more rock solid behaviors. You can also use them to teach them more fun tricks like shake, wave, play dead, roll over and more. This might sound time consuming for your busy lifestyle but I assure you it is not! Even for big dogs that eat a lot, you can give them a handful of kibble for each command or trick performed! It can take as short as 5 minutes and as long as 15 if you want to get more technical. This is also awesome because it forces you to remember to be a good dog owner and help your dog learn and tire their big brains!
Utilizing different puzzles are also a great way to help your dog use their brain to find their food. Many dogs require mental stimulation and not just physical stimulation. Finding a balance of both is important. Training them tricks and obedience skills is great mental stimulation, but so is feeding them through puzzles. Below are a couple examples of puzzles we use to make our dogs work for their meals. However, if you do a little Google search or stop into your local pet store, you will find many other options as well!
Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Dog Brick Interactive Dog Toy
We use this one a lot. It was fairly easy to incorporate into meal time. We started by having none of the white bone barriers in, and leaving the red covers partially open to encourage the dogs to move the pieces to get the food. Once they got the hang of moving the pieces around we incorporated the bones to create more of a challenge to get the food!
AK KYC Snuffle Mat
Snuffles are another awesome puzzle option for your dog to eat meals with. This really makes them use their nose to find the food. You simply scatter their food all over the mat, set on the ground and let them have a ball. This will tire your dog out physically and mentally. Plus they are easy to machine wash!