Dog Whisperer: Four common mealtime mistakes

Four common mealtime mistakes
Posted Wed, Apr 30, 2008, 10:11 pm PDT

Mealtime is a useful tool to help you connect with your dog and work to shape his demeanor. By avoiding these common mistakes, you are not only providing him with nutrition, you are helping him lead a more balanced and happy life.

Not letting a dog work for food – In nature, all animals work for food and water. For canines this means migrating in search of a meal. You can recreate this experience or your dog by taking a long walk. By properly challenging your dog before mealtime, you are allowing your dog to stay in tune with Mother Nature.

Associating food with excitement – Many humans talk and gesture in an excited way when providing food for their dog. They create and encourage the dog’s excited state, which can lead to problems or exacerbate existing ones. You should ask your dog to maintain calm energy before feeding time.

Rewarding negative behaviors – Excitement is just one of the states that should not be rewarded with food. Dogs will often become anxious, territorial, or aggressive at the prospect of being fed. If you feed your dog when he displays negative behaviors, you are reinforcing the behavior, and it will almost certainly reoccur.

Not establishing a routine – While you fill the bowl, ask your dog to sit.If she sits quietly and projects calm-submissive energy with no negative behaviors, place the bowl of food in front of her. Some of my clients think this routine sounds too rigid, but from your dog’s perspective, it is instinctual. Focusing the mind and body brings the dog back into a more natural, balanced state.

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