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Canine Food Drive

Make Each Meal a RITUAL

Most of us do not have the time nor inclination to practice daily "dog training" exercises.  A savvy dog owner instead takes advantage of natural opportunities throughout each day to assert leadership and enjoy calm obedient respect from his or her dog. One of the greatest daily opportunities arises with the pup's meals.

Instead of routinely dumping the food into a bowl and plopping the bowl on the floor while you go blow dry your hair, allocate a few minutes to making what has been an insignificant ROUTINE into a meaningful RITUAL.

Require that your pup become calm and give you space while you are preparing the meal instead of bouncing under your feet. Wait until he drains his energy and is peering at you with utmost respect before you provide him with his bowl.

Practice touching him while he is eating, as well as randomly taking the bowl from him during his meal. Only return the bowl when he is calm and respectful. And conduct the entire ritual silently without being the source of excitement you create.

The smart use of food can help shape and reward behaviors we desire. Treats can be part of your training strategy, but are best used not to feed but as a source of scent to help the dog's brain move forward.  The olfactory sense (smell) controls around two-thirds of your dog’s brain.

​Those who try to buy obedience with food bribes do not tend to foster leadership respect from their dog. Instead of free feeding Spot with him taking food for granted, make food and treats his paycheck reward for a "job well done" after the walk or after learning new rules with exemplary performance. And always give food or treats to Fido on your terms, not his.​

All dogs must eat to survive. And while our dogs do not have to hunt or scavenge, it does not mean that they will not because the Food Drive is very primal for all animals.

Many dog trainers market the singular road to training heaven as using food with loud verbal praise to reward, and depriving food and praise affection as punishment. Problems with this one-size-fits-all approach:

  • Many canine drives are stronger than any food other than a rib-eye steak,
  • Food isn’t interesting enough to motivate some dogs’ behaviors,
  • Training won’t “stick” with many dogs if you do not have food in hand,
  • Food can bring competitive brawls into an ill equipped multi-dog household,
  • Some dogs become aggressive with their handler if denied the food they have learned to expect.


Food and the Canine Mom

During your pup's natural development, you would not have found his canine mom offering food as a reward nor withholding it as a punishment. Nor did she make a clicking sound to teach, reward or punish. When warranted, she provided her pups with firm corrections as well as gentle affection. And she did both with perfect timing. This discipline is part of mother nature’s model for us humans to mirror.