One of the biggest concerns I get from people who are interested in taking classes with AnimalSense, is the use of food with training: “Isn’t my dog going to get fat?” “My dog won’t be hungry when we come to class, because he already had dinner tonight.” These are all valid concerns, but we take all of these things into consideration when asking you to work with food with your dogs.
1) Think about the amount of treats you’re going to use for the day, and take that amount of food out of your dog’s meals. If you take a half a cup of treats with you on your dog’s walk, or to training class, reduce your dog’s kibble or “meal food” by that amount. That ensures that you aren’t overfeeding your dog.
2) Incorporate your dog’s meals into training time. If your dog loves his dinner, use that to your advantage! Work on training skills right before meal time, using kibble or small pieces of their food as treats.
3) Train when your dog is hungry. If you’re coming to training class at a time that would normally be after your dog eats, skip your dog’s meal. They won’t starve, and they’ll be extra motivated for you when you get to class!
3) Use your dog’s motivation for food to help them burn some energy. Have you ever made your dog work for their meal? Let’s admit, we make it pretty easy for them: we prepare their meal, and then place it right in front of their nose, in a big ol’ bowl. If your dog is anything like mine, that food is devoured in .56 seconds, and then they’re right back under your feet, looking for something else to do. A great way to keep your dog occupied, and their brain busy, is with a food-dispensing toy. There’s a million different ones out there; Lulu’s favorite is the Kong Wobbler. It’s a big, weighted Kong that hold her kibble inside, and as she kicks it around, it spits food out slowly and randomly. She loves it, and a meal that would normally be gone in a flash is eaten over a period of 10-15 minutes, giving her some mental stimulation AND physical exercise at the same time. Check her out!
Learn how to work those food rewards into your everyday interactions with your dog, and you’ll see how easily training can fit into your day – without making Bluto bloated.