Food Drive – Picky Eaters

Food Drive - Picky Eaters

Are there picky eaters? In our school of thought - not really. We use food as a part of bonding with a young puppy.

Every time the puppy eats alone out of the bowl  - 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 someone uses treats, what happens if their dog gets tired of one brand? They, probably, will switch to another. Then another and, at some point, the value of a treat might not outweigh a distraction.

Let us go on record - 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. 

Food training is having the puppy or a young dog work for food. This means 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 other exercises. At the end of the session, you can give the puppy the rest of the food in the bowl. You already had the needed engagement.

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.

Another great way of feeding a puppy is in scent pads. Also, if you have no time to train your puppy - go for a short walk and feed him while on the walk.

If the puppy sniffs and walks away from the remainder of the 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 - we use regular meals while we are doing food training with the puppy. We 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. Very frequently we go back to food after training with a ball to lower the drive.

The cool part is after food training is completed, when we give a dog a treat - his mind is blown away!

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