By Kasey Herrera, 2SpeakDog Training and Behavior Specialist
The Importance of a Feeding Ritual
My dog won’t eat his food!
My dog guards his food!
My dog is reactive to other dogs!
I think my dog is guarding me!
These are just a few things we hear when working with clients and typically my response is “Let’s talk about a feeding ritual”. I talk a lot about changing the dynamic in the home before we can change that dynamic outside of the home. We need to let your pup know that you have got “it” so he doesn’t have to do the work. I want to let your dog know that you will take care of everything. You can tell your dog you are in charge by gaining respect through trust, not obedience through fear. A feeding ritual can be a great start to that process.
The feeding ritual is an important exercise for all dogs and their humans. It trickles into everything else you do with your dog. You will practice many of the skills you will need to change the dynamic in your home such as gaining space and creating a calm state of mind for both you and you pup. It adds value to food for picky eaters and grazers yet helps calm dogs who are excited or who experience anxiety around food. It is the type of mental stimulation we should be engaging in with our dogs daily, while building a bond between you and your dog based on respect and trust.
Insecure or reactive dogs will mirror your calm and confidence around meal time and their pack members. This ritual removes the weight from their shoulders and allows them to just enjoy being a dog. The feeding ritual will help create a dog who is balanced and confident, and trusts you to handle whatever comes their way.