I know you’re reading the title of this post and wondering why you need to be creative in feeding your dog! I’m not necessarily asking you to consider being creative with what you feed your dog, but in how you feed him. That’s the subject of today’s column.
I’ll bet you’ve never, ever given this much thought, have you? Virtually everyone I know uses some sort of bowl, pours in the kibble and bingo…dinner is served! But I’m going to ask you to think of some creative, fun ways to feed your dog, which will not only give him his meal, but also burn some problem solving brain work, which will help him feel satisfied. It’s actually a form of exercise, but it creates a brain type of tired, versus a physical sort of tired like your dog gets after a good romp with a friend.
Trick training or puzzle play can really help with about 20 minutes of physical exercise every day. So if you’re providing a morning walk, and then giving your dog his food in a puzzle feeder, you’re going to have one satisfied dog early in the day. For those of you who work away from home, this is going to be a very good choice for helping relieve boredom during the day. Your dog will have had some nice exercise to start off his day, and he’ll be ready to nap while you’re gone!
Dogs sleep a whole lot during the day. They are most active at sunup and sundown, and just enjoy chilling throughout the day. Giving them some good exercise around their mealtimes will help them during the times of day when they’re most active and alert. That makes sense, doesn’t it?
Let’s face it: If your dog were on his own in the world, he’d be spending a good part of his day finding food and water. Domestic dogs don’t have this challenge, and are often bored. Why not give them a challenge to work for their food by getting it from a puzzle feeder? There are a ton of these types of feeders on the market, and many will hold at least 1/2 cup of kibbled food. Rugby really loves the challenge of getting food from a puzzle feeder, and I think it just makes mealtimes fun for him as well.
When Rugby was a puppy, I started adding one little puzzle toy at a time, and now, we’ve got a pretty good selection, so I can change it up and keep it new and exciting for him. Most have a very simple design, and they all have a hole somewhere that tumbles the kibble out when Rugby manipulates the toy to the right angle.
Another way that I make mealtime fun for him is by actually hand feeding his kibble to him by training him at the same time. We review commands and tricks that he knows, and I often work on a couple of new tricks that are still works in progress. A hungry dog is a motivated dog, and Rugby always gives me really great focus when he’s hungry! Since he only eats 1/3 cup of kibble, it doesn’t take long at all to hand feed it to him, and it is a nice bonding time for the two of us.
So think outside the dog bowl when it comes to mealtimes! Challenge your dog and