dog food bowl - Kiss Dog TrainingThe Second Technique…Feed your dog from your hand (or by hand!)

So usually we look at feeding time as a hassle and waste this precious resource, then complain to our dog trainer (or anyone who will listen) that we just don’t have time to work with our dog…sound familiar!?!?!

Well I am here to tell you (and hopefully teach you) that we have plenty of opportunities to work with our dogs! Based on the earlier post, we have hopefully given up on the “food bowl” and started using toys to feed our dogs! This should help positively impact high energy levels, problem solving, associations to negative stimuli, and understanding what is and is not appropriate for chewing. But now for technique number two…FEEDING YOUR DOG BY HAND!

Each morning I put each dog’s food (yes all four) in plastic storage bowls. 2 cups for Penny, 3 cups for Bear and Lexie, and 4 cups for Leo! I then load up the Kongs and put them in the freezer and the magic begins! I then take a handful of the remaining food from the bowls and begin to hand feed my dogs. Donovan and Dylan usually help with this! We go from dog to dog, and spend about 10-15 minutes hand feeding (while the Kong’s are chilling in the freezer!) By doing this, I am killing three birds with one stone…I am building positive associations between my dogs and my kids, promoting that “warm fuzzy feeling” of the dogs being around the kids while they get their most important and fun resource and I’m also reinforcing the old adage “don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”

I have even been known to have people new to the house walk up to my dogs while they are eating and give them surprises! I have the strangers toss special treats to the dogs while they are enjoying their Kong. For example, I try to have kids give the best surprises (hotdogs, leftovers or canned chicken.) Adult friends of mine will give liver treats or whatever other treat I have laying around. I do this so that no matter who comes up to the dogs during feeding time, the dogs will always look up as the stranger approaches wondering what kind of surprise is coming, and not wondering “Oh my gosh are they taking my food?” Guess what, my dogs now actually love having people around them while they eat! Why, because people always bring gifts!

This technique can be used outside the house as well! After I have filled the Kong’s for the day, I can then bag up the leftover food, in a Ziploc or treat bag, grab the leash and take this show on the road! Let’s face it, if you have read my blog you know I believe in walking your dogs daily! It not only works off excess energy, but also helps with training your dog in more distracting environments than your living room!

Let’s face it…most of our dogs are great in the house but out in the great wide world, well that’s often a different story! So grab that food and head out the door (after they sit and say please for the leash and of course provide you a nice wait at the door!) The beauty of this technique is you can focus on almost anything! I can simply walk the dog and every 50 feet ask for a sit, maybe a down or even a watch me! And you all think you don’t have time to train…is it possible that you are not only wasting feeding time but the walk as well?

You could find a nice park bench and just sit down and wait for dogs, kids, cars, skateboards or anything else that might trigger your dog, and use your leftover food to associate good times with that “evil Tony Hawk” wanna be that drives your dog crazy! Switch it up and just make sure that you are hand feeding your dog 10-15 minutes a day while working on whatever you learned that week from the crazy dog guy in class or on whatever drives Fido nuts!

The simple truth to hand feeding is not only associating food (a positive) with everything possible, but to bond with your dog. I want you to stop reading for a moment and tell me what kind of relationship you would have with your dog if you had started this process the day the pup came home! Don’t lament too much, rather get out there and make up for lost time! I hope you are thinking I can’t wait to get the party started!!! But wait; there is still one more technique to add…Nothing in the world is free!!! This topic will be covered in the next blog post!

Trainers Tip (severe food aggression has other and way more specific games and techniques)… And should always be monitored by a dog training professional

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