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Why I Don’t Own a Dog Food Bowl + The Power of Hand Feeding

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Dog Training By Kayla Fratt 10 min read March 8, 2021 103 Comments

“Throw out your dog’s food bowl.” It’s one of the first things I tell my clients at Journey Dog Training to do.

It’s a first step for dogs with over-excitement, fear, reactivity, or separation-related issues. It’s also what I do with my own dog.

My dog, Barley, has never owned a food bowl. He has puzzle toys and a treat pouch, but no dinner bowl of any kind.

Barley is a dog who earns his meals. He’s not a working dog, and I’m not some sadistic owner, but I recognize how boring his days can be. Asking him to “earn” his dinner is a great way to work his mind and body!

Your dog probably spends a lot of time hanging out alone, waiting for his human to come home. Utilizing a food dispensing toy when you’re not home or food-based training when you are around is a great way to enrich his life and add some excitement to each day!

Alternatives to Food Bowls: More Delightful Ways to Enjoy Dinner!

There are plenty of different options to use instead of a food bowl. Instead of just dumping your dog’s food into a dinner dish, why not try:

Puzzle Toys Make Your Dog Work For Dinner

Puzzle toys work your dog’s mind and body as they earn their food. They’re different from slow feeders in that they encourage your dog to use his nose or paws to crack a problem of some sort.

However, just like slow feeders, they will slow your dog down as he eats, which can be helpful for dogs that wolf down their food and water in seconds. They also provide much-needed mental stimulation to keep your canine’s brain sharp.

Puzzle toys have other advantages too – for one, they make your dog appreciate his meals more. Working for something actually increases its value. This is called the IKEA effect in humans. Basically, by having your dog earn their dinner, you’re actually making dinner better!

dog eating from floor

Use Dinner Time as a Training Session

Why not teach your dog something new while you’re doling out dinner?

I throw Barley’s breakfast into a treat pouch for our morning walks so that we can work on leash manners every morning. In the evening, I pull a fun trick out of a jar and we work on learning something new! He loves our training time.

Taking 10 minutes to teach your dog something new is far more valuable than just tossing kibble into a food bowl. Some fun ideas to teach your dog include:

Practical behaviors like sit, down, stay, heel, and come.

Basic tricks like shake, high five, speak, and roll over.

Fun, challenging tricks like weaves, play bows, sitting pretty, crawling, hopping onto or going under objects. I recently started teaching Barley to open a suitcase and hop inside of it!

dog in suitcase

Mat training which works by teaching your dog a specific routine that can help him relax and calm down in stressful situations.

Box tricks that involve challenges like nosing a box, stepping into a box, or carrying a box. For more info, see this great article by Karen Pryor on 101 Things to do With a Box!

Functional games like Look At That (which teaches your dog to look at distracting objects or people. Despite seeming counter-intuitive, this exercise is said to reduce reactive behavior from the trigger), It’s Your Choice (an exercise which helps teach your dog self control — see video below), and Exchange Games (teaching your dog to exchange a non-desirable chewing item for a tasty treat. Eventually this exercise can lead into teaching take it and leave it commands).

Handling Practice. Practice letting your dog handle his sensitive bits by feeding him for letting you check his paws, ears, teeth, and private bits. This becomes an especially valuable skill set for veterinarian visits or show handling.

 Hand Feeding

Feeding your dog out of your hands is a great way to promote bonding and work on bite inhibition. This is especially great for puppies, as they’ll learn to control their teeth around your fingers. New and shy dogs also benefit tremendously from hand feeding – definitely give it a try!

  1. Start by putting some of your dog’s kibble in your cupped hand.
  2. If you feel the sharp end of a canine or incisor on your hand, close your hand. It’s ok if you feel the flat side of teeth as your dog eats.
  3. Open your hand enough that your dog can easily lick kibble out of the opening in your hand.
  4. Your puppy will quickly learn that she needs to be gentle in order to earn her meals!
  5. I think of my hand like a Kong and shape it so that puppies need to lick instead of bite to get the kibble out of my hand. I’ve actually used this to teach bite inhibition to sharky puppies!

The Benefits of Throwing Out Your Food Bowl

Think about how much time your dog likely spends alone. Many of us work and can’t afford canine daycare, so we’re forced to leave our best friends home alone all day. What does your dog do that whole time?

Giving your dog as much stimulation as possible helps with their mental, physical, and emotional well-being. An easy way to give them more stimulation in their life is to stop giving dinner away for free. Dogs like a challenge just as much as we do!

why hand feed a dog

Having your dog earn his dinner can help reduce unwanted behaviors, such as:

Chewing and Digging. Dogs that are destructive are often bored. Giving your dog something to do while you’re away helps give him a positive way to focus all that pent-up energy, so why not try a puzzle toy?

Food-dispensing toys are still helpful even if you’re doling out meals through training or when you’re present. The more mental stimulation, the better!

Barking. Dogs that bark a lot are often bored or need more attention and stimulation. Throwing out your dog’s food bowl and opting for unorthodox methods helps for these dogs for many of the reasons listed above.

Separation Distress. Being alone is hard for many dogs. But if being alone means they get to play fun games to earn their food, many dogs will start to relax when left alone.

Dogs that have adequate exercise – mental and physical – are also less likely to be stressed, so make sure to give your dog plenty of exercise in addition to a puzzle toy for a real winning combo. Dogs that have a very hard time being alone may be too stressed to eat. In that case, I’d recommend hiring a trainer or going to see a veterinarian who specializes in behavior.

Hyperactivity. Young and high energy dogs also really benefit from having something to direct that energy towards. It’s no harder for you to put their food into a puzzle toy, but it gets some of that energy out for your pup. Puzzle toys are not a substitute for exercise, but they’re another way to augment an exercise program for high-energy dogs.

Eating Too Quickly. Earning your dinner means you can’t swallow it all in one gulp! Dogs that eat so fast that they choke will benefit from the deliberate slowdown that earning their dinner provides.

Even dogs that don’t have specific behavioral issues benefit hugely from working for their meals. Many dogs enjoy having a job, even when the job is digging around for their dinner.

Trainer’s Top Favorite Dog Puzzle Feeders

I have not yet found a puzzle toy that I don’t like. As long as they’re safe and not too difficult for your dog, it’s hard to go wrong.

Barley has progressively harder puzzle toys to work through. When his stomach is upset or he seems lethargic, I might give him an easier puzzle toy. If I cut our morning walk short or know I’ll be working a long day, I pull out the college-level options.

To get you started, here are some dog puzzle feeders that come especially well recommended:

Kong Wobbler. The Kong Wobbler is a great food toy to start with. It’s inexpensive, easy to clean, and most dogs get the hang of it quickly. I batted mine around for Barley a few times, and within a few minutes he was well on his way to earning his dinner!

The classic Kong works great as well, since it can be stuffed with frozen meals (just check out our collection of Kong dinner recipes).

CleverPet. CleverPet is an expensive, but amazing, option. The CleverPet teaches your dog to press colored lights in patterns to earn his food. It can be programmed to go on throughout the day, spreading out the interaction throughout the work day. You can track your dog’s progress and it gets more difficult with time. This is a great next step when your dog is bored of toys like the Kong Wobbler. It’s pricey, but the reviews are glowing.

Just check out how much fun this pup is having!

SnuffleMat. Yes, it looks like a sleeping Sesame Street character. But the SnuffleMat helps tap into your dog’s natural sniffing abilities. It doesn’t have moving parts and just helps teach your dog to search through it to find dinner. This option isn’t too challenging. Dogs also find sniffing relaxing, so it can help sooth stressed dogs. Be careful using the SnuffleMat with big-time chewers though!

Various Amazon options. There are all sorts of great options available on Amazon for puzzle toys. For more recommended products, check out our lengthier guide on the best dog puzzle toys, where we review some of our top picks. Just make sure you order the right size and keep in mind your dog’s skill level.

The bottom line is that it’s hard to go wrong with throwing out your dog’s food bowl – there’s a huge selection of awesome food challenge toys on the market that can make dinner time fun and exciting for your pooch!

Make sure that your replacement is a safe option and monitor your dog’s eating habits. If your dog is struggling with a puzzle toy, try an easier option until they get better at it.

Are There Dogs Who SHOULD Use a Food Bowl?

In general, I believe most healthy dogs will benefit from getting their food bowl tossed in the trash. bowl.

That said, there are some dogs who may be better off with a food bowl:

Dogs with very specific diets. If it’s imperative to his health that your dog gets his exact meal every day, a food bowl might be the easiest option. That said, you can still try to hand feed or feeding through training – that way you can ensure he’s getting everything he needs!

Dogs that need soft food or are fed raw diets. Some types of food simply aren’t well-suited to puzzle toys, training, or hand feeding. I like to freeze Kongs full of wet food, but some dogs can’t handle the frozen food. Dogs that are fed raw diets of chicken and peas may not do well being fed through most puzzle toys. Shop around and see if you can figure something out that works with your dog’s diet!

Dogs with disabilities or very limited mobility. For some dogs, the challenge presented by throwing out their food bowl is just too much. A coworker of mine has a deaf and blind dog dog that enjoys very simple puzzle toys. I worked with a three-legged deaf dog who still earned his meals through training. But some dogs just won’t thrive living this way. Do what’s best for your dog.

Dogs that are struggling with their weight. Dogs that are severely underweight or lose weight quickly might not be well-suited to food bowl alternatives. Talk to your vet to be sure!

Even if your dog isn’t well-suited to throwing out their food bowl, you can always just put some extra-tasty treats into a puzzle toy or take some time for training.


Throwing out Fido’s food bowl is a great shortcut to giving your dog more mental and physical exercise. Take advantage of daily feedings to give your dog something to do all day!

What does your dog do to earn his dinner? We want to know!

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Written by

Kayla Fratt

Kayla Fratt is a dog behavior consultant and freelance writer. She is an Associate Certified Dog Behavior Consultant with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and is a member of Dog Writer’s Association of America. She travels full time with her border collie Barley and her boyfriend, Andrew. Before coming to K9 of Mine, Kayla worked at Denver Dumb Friends League as a Behavior Technician. She owns her own dog training business, Journey Dog Training and holds a degree in biology from Colorado College. When she’s not writing or training Barley, Kayla enjoys cross-country skiing, eating sushi, drinking cocktails, and going backpacking.

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103 Comments

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Nora

I started hand feeding my now 14 month old new about 2 months ago. He was losing weight eating raw and was not eating nearly enough. Now he ONLY I mean won’t eat out of a bowl his kibble. He lays downs and I hand feed him or he uses a food dispensing ball. No matter how I try he won’t eat kibble from a bowl, but if I put a piece of chicken in it, gobbled up.
Should I continue the hand feeding??

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Chris

Two feeders recommended don’t even exist any more. And this article is only a month old. How about some current recommendations?

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Ben Team

Hey, Chris.
We try to keep our product recommendations current, but products are removed from the market all the time. The link for the KONG Wobbler should work now, as should the one for CleverPet (but unfortunately, CleverPet is currently out of stock — nothing we can do about that).
Thanks for checking out the site!

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Greg

In the video around 30 seconds you say Good boy then correct yourself and say Good job. Have not seen your other training tips yet but is there meaning in using the word “job”?

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Sadie

This method worked wonderfully when my dog was on dry food. He would rush and eat the entire bowl without chewing once and then would throw up after almost every meal.

He is on raw food now so has no choice but to chew, but the hand feeding method is definitely one I recommend for food aggression/insecurity.

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Carl Snyder

I agree 100%
Every one of my kids have been fed the same way for years, they have to earn it. And they have done wonderfully in my eyes!

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Cat

Really bad advice Close this down.

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Josh

No dog nor kid should have to “earn a meal”, that’s in most eyes neglect and malnutrition…. nobody, not a soul deserves this “practice”, to be hungry….

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Amanda Selby

So many judgemental replies. With any article it won’t apply to everyone. An article is an idea. We as American’s or even human beings should uplift one another not shame or call names! I thank you for this information and ideas I never would have had

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John

Terrible advice. The only thing I learned was never to use the author to help train any of my dogs.

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Meg Marrs

I’m sorry your dogs won’t see the benefits of canine enrichment, but I sure hope other more open-minded folks give it a try!

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Gautam Mohata

Absolutely ridiculous. There are much better ways to train dogs not to be food aggressive. What about dogs who are on a raw diet? Puzzle toys are great but not as a daily way of feeding dogs. What about households with multiple dogs?

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Meg Marrs

Hey Gautam, there are plenty of puzzle feeders that work for multi-pet households. Getting a couple of Kong Wobblers or Bob-A-Lots would work for kibble. Frozen Kongs would work great for wet or raw food. Hope that helps!

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Deborah Robinson

Stupid article. Throw food on mat or floor or hand feed? My mother hand feeds her dog. Spoiled brat. Feed them in a dish
Just by being our puppy or dog they’re earned their food. Treats,for training. I have had well balanced, behaved and healthy dogs for 35 years. They all ate from a bowl. You are off your rocker

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Meg Marrs

I can say first hand as someone who feeds each and every meal to their dog from a puzzle feeder, dogs ADORE these things. You have to remember Deborah, most dogs sit around all day doing nothing. They are bored out of their minds. Providing enriching mental challenges and stimulation benefits your dog. Feeing your dog out of a bowl doesn’t mean you are a bad owner, but when you have the opportunity to enrich your dog’s life, why not take it? Meal times are an easy win.

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Kathleen

Where can I purchase the Cleverpet Hub. Tired Amazon,don’t see it.Help.

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Ben Team

Hey, Kathleen.
You can try checking CleverPet’s website.

They appear to be out of stock at the moment, but they have a place where you can add your email address to be notified once they’ve replenished their inventory.
Best of luck!

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David Hower

Yeah right….if you have one dog and want make sustenance a learning experience great. I have nearly 300 lbs of dogs…..i would think you should preface you article for single dog households. My dogs sit and potentially are asked to obey another command, but that’s it. They earn that night or morning’s meal.

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Meg Marrs

Hey David – you could try using puzzle feeders or frozen KONGS, those work great for multi-pet households!

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Manish

Absolutely stupid idea ..give them their food properly as meal not some kind of divided treats. Spare some time for play with your dog or else don’t own one if you don’t have time for care.

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Meg Marrs

Hey Manish – not sure what you mean here. Taking the extra time to create fun and engaging ways for dogs to enjoy their food is what shows you care about them! I hope you’ll give it a try!

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Bradley W. G. Gavin

Sounds nice, but not for my 85 pound Golden Retriever. Food is already TOO HIGH value. Making him work for it just makes his food aggression worse. I have hand fed him, for weeks at a time. Yes, I am retired! Nothing changes. I have worked with licensed trainers. The consensus is, unless I want to use shock therapy on him, leave him be, quit harassing him, let him eat. BTW, he IS a working dog…

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Meg Marrs

Hey Bradley – having a dog engage in mental enrichment via food puzzles does not increase food aggression – which is more commonly referred to as resource guarding. We have a great guide here on how to work on resource guarding. Definitely don’t use shock training, that would be a big mistake. As you say, leaving him be to eat is a perfectly adequate solution!

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April

I should add that hand feeding is also a way to increase transmission of parasites and zoonotic infections/infestations.

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Ben Team

Hey, April. Obviously, you should wash your hands after feeding your dog by hand.
Thanks for reading!

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April

This is a horrible idea. I never learned or have heard about this technique in my animal psychology classes or as a veterinary technician. This is irresponsible because people with food aggressive dogs should not try this technique. This much involvement in your dogs eating has created issues that I see at the animal hospital. If an owner goes out of town, or something happens with the owner, dog’s can stop eating with this way of doing things. As in nature. Dog’s can eat from the ground with a bowl.

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Deborah Garceau

I agree with the tone of the article that as custodians of our animal companions it is our responsibility to enrich their lives which means spending time with them. One of my hopes is that more owners switch their pets from kibble to raw or home cooked diets. The concepts laid out do not require hand feeding the dogs every kibble meal. In fact most households would not have the time at meal time to hand feed or do training. A couple of minutes at meals for a few training tricks is realistic. Let’s all spend time with our furry friends, long walks every day, sports activities, fun in the yard set up your own activities and move indoors when the weather weather changes.

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Little Maltese

Dogs should be able to eat when they are hungry and not feel like they have to scrounge for it or win a puzzle to feel fed. I totally disagree with this article. Puzzles are for treats. If your dog is misbehaving then spend more time with it. Main food sources are a necessity of life, not a Training tool.

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Meg Marrs

I’d suggest giving a puzzle feeder a try – you’ll quickly witness how much most dogs enjoy these. A misbehaving dog is often due to boredom, which is where additional enrichment and engagement via puzzle feeders come in! I sure hope you’ll consider giving these ideas a try, your dog will thank you for it.

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Paul

My 200lbs. wolfhound would require most of my day to ‘hand feed’ the correct amount. and anybody with a large breed is laughing at the prospect of this article. this method is more suitable for someone whos a professional with dogs and more over gets paid to work with dogs and come up with this “stuff”. Maybe a retiree, stay at home parent, or somebody on disability has that kind of time on their “hands”, i don’t.
great concept though.

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Meg Marrs

Hey Paul – there are a lot of other options detailed here besides hand feeding. Did you read the entire article? Even a 200 lb Wolfhound could easily be fed via a puzzle feeder through the use of stuffed Kongs or a Kong Wobbler!

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Marty

That’s great if your dogs weigh 10 lbs soaking wet, but I have four 60 plus pound dogs. For me, that’s not even approaching realistic. I really love the idea, but are there any options for me & my kids?

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Meg Marrs

Hey Marty – one potential idea is sectioning off each dog to a room and letting them loose with a treat ball! Do you think that would work for your crew?

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Jill

I have a ridiculously smart bichon poodle mix who is eight months old and has been a remarkable puppy – I’ve also been very diligent in raising him to ensure his success.. He genuinely loves to work for his food in the morning So I feed him his breakfast through a game of fetch in the backyard. My only concern at this point is when we need to go on vacations or have dog sitters, I don’t think other people will have the time/patience to do what I do with him. Am I creating a monster? He can be pretty stubborn or maybe a little OCD so I fear he won’t eat out of his bowl or get stressed If that’s his only option with a sitter. Am I overthinking this? Should I stop our daily work-for-meals routine? Personally, it works for me and I don’t mind but I am aware it may be a disservice for when we’re gone.

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Ben Team

Hey, Jill.
The best solution would probably be to find a dog sitter you can build a relationship with. With a bit of practice and encouragement, he’ll likely learn to play your “feeding fetch” game with other humans he trusts.
Check out this article about finding a good dog sitter — it may help you find one who wouldn’t mind playing with your four-footer.
Best of luck!

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Ron bish

Our dogs name is Harris Lee Buck he is a 5 years old smart as a whip Border collie

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Vanessa Ward

I am so sorry, that is just cruel! I cook for my dogs proper food, not kibble. Any pet, is a part of the family, treat them as you would a human and the love and respect plus obedience will follow.

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Trish

Love the ideas, but wish all the links worked as I haven’t tried all the ideas!

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Ben Team

Sorry about that, Trish! I’ll see if I can get any broken ones fixed up ASAP.
EDIT: They’re all fixed now, Trish.
🙂

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Moe Levesque

This is really a great thought. All the things mentioned seem to be a great way for dogs to get fed by doing a little of thinking to get the food and nutrition they need.

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Amy

“An easy way to give them more stimulation in their life is to stop giving dinner away for free.”
Next article “how to force your dog to pay rent!”
I’m all for behavior training but with treats not actual meals.

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Meg Marrs

A lot of folks seem to hate this idea, but I’ll tell you, last night when I was giving my dog his dinner, I put a plate of mixed rice and chicken broth on the ground, and then placed his treat ball with kibble beside it. He ignored the open plate and went for the kibble ball, only going after the free available food after he finished with the treat ball. Dogs spend most of their day sitting around waiting for us to come home. They are bored to death. Activity-based feeding is what dogs want, it’s exciting and fun for them. If you’ve ever been unemployed you know how quickly not having a job gets depressing and boring.

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Erica BROWN

I read what you had to say about having your dog work for his meal but I can’t see how that is a nice thing to do. We as humans don’t have to work for our meals we don’t have someone dangling or hanging food above our heads for us to work to get it …we eat because we’re hungry. I can understand if you are giving a treat that’s a little different but a meal that is something that is essential
it is something they need for survival… why do they have to go through all the struggles just to get some food they can’t come out and tell you that they’re hungry “can you please give me my food.?”..they cannot do that so they’re depending on you to have the food available to them to eat without them having to go through 4 years of University in order to get their food… I’m not an expert on dogs however I just love them and I think we put too much stress on them for them to be like us but they will NEVER be us because we’re humans and they’re animals all we can do is take care of them LOVE them and make them HAPPY…so unfortunately I think what you have suggested in your article is actually VERY sad.
Please don’t take offense the last thing I want to do is to offend I just feel that I should say something for the animals who can’t.

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Angela

This method wouldn’t work when a dog is on a raw diet, which all dogs should be.

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Erica BROWN

I read what you had to say about having your dog work for his meal but I can’t see how that is a nice thing to do. We as humans don’t have to work for our meals we don’t have someone dangling or hanging food above our heads for us to work to get it …we eat because we’re hungry. I can understand if you are giving a treat that’s a little different but a meal that is something that is essential.

It is something they need for survival… why do they have to go through all the struggle just to get some food they can’t come out and tell you that they’re hungry can you please give me my food…they cannot do that so they’re depending on you to have the food available to them to eat without them having to go through 4 years of University in order to get their food…

I’m not an expert on dogs however I just love them and I think we put too much stress on them for them to be like us but they will never be us because we’re humans and their animals all we can do is take care of them love them and make them happy so unfortunately, I think what you have suggested in your article is actually very sad.

Please don’t take offense the last thing I want to do is to offend I just feel that I should say something for the animals who can’t.

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Kristina

I’m keeping this, I’m looking for a dog right now. This is the best idea I’ve head of.I’ll study all ..finely something that makes since @good for a dog
Right On!

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Janet L

My 4 Year old Vizshla/Lab Mix Miss Daisy May Is My Mobility Service Dog Among Invisible Psych Tasks. She’s Being Bullied Where We Live in A High Rise in Latrobe Pa 15650. She’s Gotten Physically Sick With Diarrhea Won’t Drink Water And Terrible Anxiety Attacks From Having A Tenant That Lives Here Let His Dog Lucy Bite Miss Daisy May While Using Her as A Weapon On The Elevator At My 3rd Floor? Also Just This Morning 2/2/20 His Girlfriend Whom Owns A Non Socialized Aggressive Pitt Bill That Barks All Night While She’s Up At Her Boyfriend’s Apt. The Boyfriend is The Tenant That Bully’s With His Dog Lucy. They Want To Use Miss Daisy May As A Scapegoat so That Dawn The Girlfriend With The Barking Pitt Bill Doesn’t Get Evicted. My Service Dog And I Are Being Fraudulently Evicted By Click Of Bully Tenants That Follow This Male Tenant and His Girlfriend As Of Their Owners of the Highrise.
Please Help! I’m Looking For Another Apt But They Took My Section 8 Voucher? I’m Also A Domestic Violence Survivor who Had The Abuser Living 8 Miles In Hostteter,Pa. For Safety Reasons Both Against These Tenants and My Soon To Be Former Husband.

Sincerely,
Janet L. Baxter

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Ben Team

Hey, Janet. So sorry about your troubles.
I had to remove your phone number (to protect your privacy) and the name of the person you’re having an issue with (we just can’t let you do that here).
But, we sincerely hope you’re able to find a solution. We’d recommend reaching out to the local housing authority (or similar relevant agency) and explaining your situation.
Best of luck!

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Susan Trujillo

WOW I was/am impressed with the content of your article! I was apprehensive, as always, to click on the “We use cookies” clause due to receiving lots of garbage, however I am soooo goad I did fir k9ofmine Thank you!

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Paul J Mortlock

Thank you for the great information and ideas in helping your dog and Parent, to be the “best that they can be”! I will be ” furever” grateful for your advice. Paul Mortlock

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Raymond R

That’s dumb dinner is not a privilege how about you go do a puzzle for your dinner

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Carol D Makepeace

Any thoughts on how to keep a dog out of trash cans in the house and leaving people’s plates alone when within reach? My dogs only bad habits.

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Ben Team

Hey, Carol. You may want to check out our article about dog-proof trash cans. That’s a pretty quick-and-easy way to solve the issue.

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Carol D Makepeace

Thank you! I will definitely check that out.

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Suzanne Warfield

This is right up there with “ok kids. The first one to make their beds gets the first hot dog…Now who wants to write an essay for that pork chop” Seriously??? Dogs in the wild lay down and relax with pack members at meal time…yes the elder brother will get the loin..but there is plenty to go around. Like people…digestion needs relaxation…and peace ..not a fan of this ‘work for it’ stuff..and..God forbid…something happens to you and your dogs need to be kenneled for a time
.they will find the real world…in a bowl…unacceptable and will not eat. Hand feeding..outside of illness is a nightmare to break. Feed your dog…like a dog.

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Malcolm

Greetings. This was the best K9 info I have read in a long time, and I read daily. Thanks for sharing information that can be useful.
Thanks again
Malcolm Ali

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Lori G.

You preach, my friend!
Couldn’t have said that any better! Dogs give us unconditional love. They don’t make us run up and down steps before kissing or snuggling us! Think people!
Animals are a blessing!!

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Shannon Slade

This is absolutely the MOST RIDICULOUS thing I have ever read! Seriously?! What were you thinking when you wrote this article!.

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Pamela

I have hand fed my year old German Shepard since we rescued her at six months. It has bonded us and made me slow down and enjoy her so much more. I started it because she wouldn’t eat and by me hand feeding her she is gaining weight and getting healthy. Love your article

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MF

It’s training like this that has rescues and shelters full of dogs that stupid people turn in because the owner tried training but it didn’t work. As owners feeding time should be a reliable constant for a dog — or any animal. Imposing training is unnecessary and a weak way to earn a response from your pet.

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Linda Thomas

I believe a dog should earn their treats, but I had not thought to feed my dog with a puzzle full time. I did have a chihuahua that insisted he only eat out of his puzzle toy. I will start tomorrow morning with my young dog. Thank you for the great info.

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Cherie Wood

This is so stupid! I have had healthy dogs my whole life.
What qualifications do you have?
I have animal husbandry an worked to formulate nutritious meals for all.
This makes no sense!

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Savannah

This would never work for my family of fur babies as I have 7 of them, and I don’t have enough hands to feed 7 dogs. I’ll stick to my bowls and just do extra play time and treats. ☺️

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J Burnside

Excellent article. “Food” for thought….

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Father Douglas Bilyeu

I found this article very good and educational. My dogs eat like a steam shovel. Buddy Bear & Ruger.
They love me to death!
Thank you.
Father Doug +

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Dave Lounder

*soothe

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Lula Lu

Let’s hope Barley doesn’t jump in suitcase that closes when you’re not home!

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Sharie

First, loved this post. Lots of great ideas to try with my new husky mix. She’s very energetic, and can get too into play and attention of any kind.
As for those who don’t agree, every person is different as are all dogs. This is a suggestion. Be polite.

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None

Just put the food in the bowl I mean big deal you eat off a plate everyday… No one sitting there making you work for your meals you don’t have treat pouches… You people are turning this world in a a pretentious ball of b*******

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J Burnside

Dogs are not humans. They respond to different types of stimuli in very specific ways. Best to keep an open mind especially if your dog exhibits negative behavioral issues. Aggression, separation anxiety, leash issues, etc….
No need for derogatory language my friend.

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Maria

I think it’s a great idea..

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Tbone

There are solo many ways to debunk this disturbing human behavior. But I have to go spoon feed my Bella, a 9 yr old Red Healer & Gracie, my 4 yr old chiweenie. They both eat a mix of dry kibbles with boiled chicken lightly salted for a preservative, rice, and canned beef cutlets with a cup or so of left over gravy. Bella gets spoon fed in my bed(she’s a neat lady) & Gracie eats from her bowl behind us on the bed. With Bella I play fetch with one of her 20+ toys she can still remember the name of each & every toy and retrieves on command or if she chooses pick one of own. Gracie just chases Bella..lol both are healthy as can be. I train my kids through positive reinforcement. Playing games with their food can produce negative behaviors. Training with treats is a problem when there are none to give & swapping techniques can be confusing to the dog. They both get regular exercise everyday until they’re too pooped to pooch. It’s a method I’ve used successfully for 50 yrs. People please take “advice” columns like these with a grain of salt. You never know if the person writing them is truly as qualified as they claim. After all this is the internet.

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Lyn

We walk & board dogs in our home, so we like to keep up to date with ideas and tips on how to care for each pooch that stays over, many thanks for this article

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Thank you for sharing your group

Great information will try on my 1 year old, thank you

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Carol

I have 2 rescue dogs. One has very bad separation anxiety 1/2 Bichon 1/2 Lhasa (beautifully groomed, wondering streets & found by dog catcher, no one claimed him). Literally screams when even one person gets out of the car & the rest of us are still in the car to stay including the other little dog! We’ve tried everything to quell his hysterical reactions. We pull into the dog park area & he is already whimpering & works it up to a peircing scream! We’ve tried taking to him softly, petting him, we never say Bye Bye or that we are leaving or we’ll be back, none of those triggers to start this. We just go do what we have to do & come back. He definitely was hand fed & with table food…he didn’t know about kibble & the like. He is approx. 7 yrs. old. Buddie is very sweet & we all give him good lovin’ but needs more exercise. Winter is a tough time here & he has gained a few pounds too! And he is always hungry but give him veggies when he needs a snack. He knew about veggies when we adopted him but also goes crazy when he sees ice cream so feed him frozen string beans instead!

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Mary

This is so ridiculous ! Who actually thinks these things up?! And then there’s the Pied Piper folks who perpetuate this by thinking it’s better then sliced bread! Why does a dog have to do circus tricks to just eat dang!! Love your dog , care for your dog and just feed them .. they’re hungry, eat and train some other way .. seriously dogs like puzzles to eat ?! Lol. Poor things. El Capitan houses ! Hey let’s start doing this with our kids now or better yet you start being fed this way. LOL

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Debra

If you haven’t tried this method, please don’t judge. We do agility and the agility instructor recommended the same thing – at least for two weeks to get the dog to focus on the owner. I add pre- and pro-biotics to my dog’s food so she gets some food in her dish. However, she still needs to sit and wait until I give her the signal to eat. She loves the one-on-one interaction of our training sessions. She also has several food puzzles that she loves. If you think about it, we all “work” for food. Even children. Children may have to learn to wash their hands before they eat, set the table, help with meal preparation, etc. I’m sure you don’t let your children come to the table and start grabbing food. There are rules. Dogs appreciate/need structure and challenges just like children do.

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Melernea Neff

NO THANKS. BAD INFORMATION. SO WRONG.

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Ben Team

No need to yell, Melernea.

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Mary

I didn’t use a bowl when my dog was a puppy because I’d watched an episode about a canine cop who was always fed through challenges like finding his food under one of 3 cans. I lived in a small space but still hand fed with ball retrieval and 8 years later I use a bowl with wet food but my dog brings me a ball when he’s done eating. I also used to trade treats if he came inside and told me when he saw a dog outside to avoid neighbor trouble. Also traded for undesirable objects which inadvertently taught him to steal keys and socks but he never chewed anything up. I always wish I’d taught him to find my phone. Jk I also pointed a lot without realizing it until a friend noticed I did that with him. Also fortunate to live by large great dog parks. Even though he’s a bc/Aussie/lab mix he’s always been calm when I’m gone and never had any potty or destruction issues. Besides that I accidentally trained him into some great behaviors where people have actually tried to talk me out of my dog. He comes to tell me about things he notices that are out of the normal and will get a ball, sock etc and use it to lead people to what he’s trying to communicate about, food, door, noise etc. as they are reaching out to him. Takes treat almost to gently. Knows basic trocks. Can be directed by pointing at a distance. Most of all it established a relationship between us that at 8 he has learned stay out of the new garden or wait at the top of the stairs with one quick training session. Ill have to check into those toys too. Good article. Thanks.

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G

I have my dog for companionship, not to be obsessed with having the dog learn tricks to no end.
My dog knows the basics commands and that’s enough. Feeding time is just that, feeding time.
When we eat with plates at the table, the dog eats with the food in a bowl on the floor.
Going for walks and playing with the dog is a stress free time for both dog and owner…..enjoy the companionship just as you would with a friend or one of your children.
Using meal time to train your dog is an obsession. Back off and enjoy the love and stress free
companionship your dog offers you each and every day, and let the dog eat his meal in peace in a bowl.
-G

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Steve

Great article! True about many dogs. Some dogs ok with being alone but most function better with someone around and/ or a task or challenge, especially working dogs. Your border collie lives to be challenged and probably are the best problem solving breed (had one). However some breeds other than working breeds are underestimated and may like the stimulation as well. My chihuahua, who passed at age 9, was extremely intelligent and often bored with certain challenges and might not participate therefore. The breed often gets a mark for a low rating on intelligence which is unfortunate and I think for the reason I gave. We cannot underestimate our dogs intelligence always. Of course there are exceptions as dogs have their own personalities . I will try the puzzle toy for my golden retriever as he clearly loves a challenge (almost insatiable). Thank you and thanks for listening. Would be nice to hear from others about dogs with working parents!

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Steve

Did not see comments when I wrote mine. I do think people should think of a dog breed that not only fits their schedule but works for the dogs needs and natural instincts. Sometikes a second dog is great company for another. Thank you.

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margaret savage

Circus training for tricks involves starvation and reward. I’ll start making my kids jog a mile and then I’ll give them a bite of dinner. Good kids ….now sit for another bite. WHAT? no way….ha ha
Food should be a given . Treats on the side should be given for special tricks or gestires. You’re dog just like yourself likes to feel full and satisfied after a meal.
I feed my dog Fiona homemade food at dinner time and treats for tricks at breakfast and lunch time. She does the fun gestures and knows the reward is coming!

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Shari

I know right? Why deprive a dog of a meal??? Earn his food. I’m sorry this isn’t a prison or concentration camp environment. Absolutely ridiculous

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Natasha

As great of an idea this is, training can be just as effective with a bowl. You can teach a dog that in order to eat, he needs to be calm. Having a dog sit or any other command before he goes to his meal is just as effective. There is no need to take away a food bowl.

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Ann

There’s a time for training and a time for eating for your dog to enjoy his or her meals. How would you like to have to work for your meals every time you want to enjoy them? Also tieing a dog to a bicycle as your riding is very cruel, they can get extremely dehydrated and exhausted especially in the hot summer months!! They all have feelings as we do!

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Lori

Absolutely! I suggested the same in my reply to another person, earlier.
I think that this type of feeding is down right cruel.
Most dogs wait a good amount of time to get their food. No need to make them jump through hoops….or anything else.

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Ashley D Dillon

I enjoy learning different more challenging ways and ideas to teach my Ryder(staffy terrior) who is 1yr&6months, to eat and learn in the same process. I’m excited to hand feed him and experience the new and maybe out with the old feeding time. I would love to read more articles like this one, even more of articles on ideas for alike breeds as Ryder who is related to the pit bull terrior. Thanks for your k9 learning articles, until next time.

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Nanci Gilligan

I have an older dog his name is Toby. He’s 12yrs old and a Schnoodle Love him to pieces. Not a barker or hyper acting. Even my cats love him too. Have any ideas on activities or puzzles for him?

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Nolie Bation Edtrada

What is the best shampoo to eliminate tickles

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Ben Team

Hey, Nolie.
We actually have an article on flea and tick shampoos that’ll be published on Wednesday, so I’d encourage you to check back then.
That said, Vet’s Best Flea & Tick Shampoo (which we will discuss in the upcoming article) is clearly one of the best.
Good luck!

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Kevin

Very good And Extremely Interesting.

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Corrie Besaw

I’ve been hand feeding my 13 year old Cavalier King Charles her whole life! Now my 200LB Newfoundland gets hand fed. I feel like they think I’m the leader of the pack. I also think it’s safer for my big guy, as I don’t worry about bloat this way. My pet sitters think I’m crazy! But now I know I’ve been doing the right thing ALL along!

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Dp

If we’re going to leave pets alone all day we might reconsider having them.
More importantly, We all have things we need to get better at but using our living right to sustenance as a training tool is not ok. Please think about not getting dinner until you read a chapter in a text book or doing fifty situps. Doesn’t sound like fun does it?

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Lori

I completely agree with Dp.
Just like my husband, my dog expects dinner, but doesn’t ‘work’ for it. I don’t like this idea at all. Choose another time of day and then lower amount of food(treats will add up) given. Your dog will be engaged and enjoy his/her food later on.
Lori G.

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Caroline

Interesting point of view. I think if the dog has had treats throughout the day it might be ok but I agree about making a hungry, lonely dog ‘work’ seems like a bit of a power Trip. I do see the benefits of hand feeding though. We rescued a pitbull who was afraid of husband, probably was abused by a male. We had my husband do all feedings and after a month our new dog trusted him.

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M

I have a good Dog She s sweet I saved her life from a cold war scaredy cage. It was a puppy mill. My Mother didn’t want too call the police on the lady but all us kin fokes. Did. Now she feels like a sap she didnt.

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Allen Richardson

I like the idea this article presents, but I have two dogs … a GSD and a Corgi. So, as you can see they have very different quantity needs. What is your advise for multiple dogs? How do you guarantee they are getting the correct amount of food.

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Corrie Besaw

I have a 200 lb newfy and a 20 lb cavalier. They eat different diets and amounts.
I hand feed my Cavalier first. When she’s done, I feed my big Boy. He has absolutely no problem with waiting. They know the routine. Neither one of them wants the others food either, cause they know I am the boss! Works out perfectly. Also, neither one of them beg…ever!!!!!

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Jenny H

Why I use food bowls!
There is NOTHING quite as powerful as ‘dinner time’ training 🙂 I do most of my training at dinner time — the dogs are much more tuned in to you, and prepared to do what is asked, and do it quickly. (I mean, who cares about a measly ‘treat’!! I want dinner!)
PS, Sallee is now competing in Masters RallyO — a few more meals and we’ll have those pesky ‘moving downs’ 🙂

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Kayla Fratt

That’s so awesome! Working for dinner is definitely a great way to enrich your dog’s life. Using dinnertime as a training session is actually my go-to as well. I just fall back onto my Kong Wobbler when I have no time. Keep us posted on the moving downs – that’s very cool.

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