Fitting in time to train your dog or puppy can be challenging – we all have busy lives. So here’s a tip to save you time and give Fido the training he needs: Simply turn your dog’s mealtimes into “Training Time!”
4 Reasons Why Meal Times Make Great Training Opportunities
- Meals last longer! Putting food in a bowl usually means your dog inhales rather than eats the food! But using meal times to train or play games, makes dinner last longer.
- Mealtimes become fun rather than just functional. You give your dog the chance to learn, play, build their bond with you and
- Dogs are natural foragers; they enjoy working for their food and exercising their brain. In fact they ‘need’ brain stimulation so meal times are perfect to do just that.
- If you’re going to be giving food to your dog anyway why not maximise the opportunity?
Be Your Dog’s Hero!
If you’re not using Fido’s mealtimes as training opportunities then you – and your dog – are missing out. Whether you have a young pup, a feisty adolescent or a senior canine citizen – all dogs enjoy using their brain in fact your dog craves mental stimulation; as with humans your dog’s brain is a muscle and it wastes if it’s not exercised. Dinner time training is an easy fix. And many clients also find that dinner time training has other positive consequences too:
- Their dog settles more easily
- Their dog is more tuned in to them and focuses better when out and about
- Their dog is calmer – less barking, less frenzied behaviour
Food = Fun
Dinner time training can be as creative and varied as you like. Maybe you work on husbandry activities eg practising putting the lead, collar, harness on calmly or nail clipping or grooming. Perhaps you work on refining a behaviour eg building your dog’s ‘stay’ or ‘drop’ or lead walking skills; You could even practise a chill-out activity like ‘go to your mat’. Or perhaps work your dog’s nose with some Scentwork games. Here are 11 ways to make meal times count:
- Find It – An oldie but such a goodie! Plus, you can build in a ‘Stay’ as you teach your dog to wait while you set up the treasure hunt.
- Snuffle Bowl – Turn a washing-up bowl (or cardboard box) into an enriching, sensory adventure for Fido. Click the link to learn ‘How’.
- Muffin Tray challenge – Look how many skills your dog learns with game: Scentwork, dexterity, retrieve, dropping the ball precisely into a slot, calm play.
- Tricks – Put that in the bin please!
- More Tricks – Leg Weave, Walk On My Feet, Basket Ball
- “Leave It”
- Go To Your Mat
- Cue Discrimination: Go To Your Mat (or Bed or Platform)
- Lead walking
- Positions – Sit, Down, Touch, Stay
Let me know how you get on and do send me pics/videos of your doggie dinner time fun, I’d love to see them!
And if you’re looking for even more meal times games check out Shay Kelly’s wonderful facebook page ‘Canine Enrichment‘ – lots of ‘how to’ videos. Another of my favourites is Christina Sondermann’s fantastic book ‘Brain Teasers For Dogs‘ – shows you how to make DIY food puzzle toys on a budget using household items.
Article written by Joy Matthews.
If you would like help training your dog or puppy, contact Joy@JoyfulDogs.co.uk