Think about your dog’s ancestral roots: Wild dogs migrated great distances to hunt and forage for food. And though dogs today are far from wild, having moved into our homes and onto our couches, those hunting and foraging instincts still exist. But instead of letting a dog be a dog, domesticated pet dogs are served up their meals at regular times in a dog bowl – on a silver platter as it were.
So it should be no surprise then when behavior problems emerge from those unspent instincts. A frustrated or bored dog can make his own fun—and it’s not usually a “game” we appreciate. The good news: You can utilize your dog’s mealtimes to stave off that boredom!
Change the way your dog thinks about his food by tapping into those instincts. This is no longer a mindless endeavor – this is now good old fashion fun! Here’s how:
Allow him to hunt
No, you don’t want to let your dog find and kill his own food, and to be honest, he probably doesn’t know how. But, you can let him use his hunting instincts by hiding his food in puzzle toys that make him use the same skills he would if he had caught game.
Especially for our nose-driven dogs, foraging is an important behavior to work. Hide his food around the house or yard, or use a toy like the Wooly Snuffle Mat to engage his nose and encourage foraging. It’ll tire your dog out far more than chowing down from a bowl!
The ultimate goal? Engage his brain! By making mealtime an activity, you will stave off boredom for your pup. He’ll begin to think of mealtime as a fun challenge that activates his brain and lets him use his instincts.