Food Drive - Are There Really Picky Eaters?
In anticipation of comments - we do not recommend dogs are starved or forced to miss meals. We also do not insist that every dog must work for food. Each Handler/Dog team should establish their goals and decide how to arrive there. We are simply bringing to light the concept of food training in the most efficient way.
In our school of thought, food is used as a part of bonding with a young puppy. Every time the puppy eats by himself out of the bowl that is simply put down or placed in a crate - we lose an engagement opportunity.
Many people ask us about best treats to use. We always try to set the dog for success and, where possible, influence the outcome. If you use treats, what happens if your dog gets tired of one brand? You, probably, will switch to another. Then another and at some point the value of a treat might or might not outweigh a distraction.
How to avoid it?
Food training is having the puppy or a young dog work for food, meaning the actual dog food you give him for meals. No treats are used so not to devalue the food itself.
With a young puppy some people add water to the bowl. You can use a few small handfuls of dry or slightly moist food for shaping, motor skills or exercises. At the end of the session, you can give the puppy the rest of the food in the bowl. For those feeding raw - it is more challenging. Some of our students report freezing food in small balls, or using professionally manufactured food that comes in pellets. Others prefer regular defrosted raw and use disposable gloves to deliver food. It all depends on your dedication and your decision how you are training.
Another great way of feeding a puppy is in scent pads.
If the puppy sniffs and walks away from the remainder of food - not a big deal. Pick it up and put it away until the next meal. Do not increase the portion next time. Some puppies are not great eaters and can comfortably skip or not finish a meal. Of course, monitor the puppy for a potential of sickness. Check his gums color, observe energy level, etc. If necessary, take him to a veterinarian.
The main point is - use regular meals while you are doing food training. Do not do anything special until food training is completed. You might ask when is that? It is hard to predict and depends on the dog. We recommend targeting age of approximately 8 months.
Please feel free to leave comments or ask questions at the bottom of the screen.
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