Why do we feed our pets in a bowl? It is something we do mechanically, without thinking about it.

But why do we do it? Because we eat from a plate and then transpose this way of eating to our pet? Because it’s cleaner?

So, if you think about it for two minutes, you can see that the advantages are only for us. 

Because, when you think about it, dogs don’t care if they have a bowl or if they eat on the floor, it’s not a punishment for them.

So what do they have to gain from eating like us?

Honestly? Nothing!

In 20 seconds or 3 minutes, he’ll have devoured the same kibbles or wet food as the day before, without it soliciting anything from him except some chewing activity.

Yet, we talked about this, he needs more and the meal is the ideal moment for our dog to have some activity.

It takes time and energy for us to get a meal ready on our plate. We work to get money, that we use for grocery shopping, that then allows us to cook a meal. Then, we sit down and eat.

That’s quite a lot of activities to get there, right?

In nature, canines spend hours looking for food. Whether it’s by tracking, chasing, catching and ripping their prey apart, or by scavenging, before savoring the flesh and gnawing the bones.

Of course, our family dogs don’t have to do that and they’re not necessarily able to do it anymore, since they joined our homes decades ago (except for scavenging, of course, I bet some of you thought about your Doggo!).

But then, how do I feed my dog?

We talked about it, a dog needs 5 hours of activity per day, 7 if it’s a work dog.
(Article “Understand and respond to my dog’s needs”).

It’s not with a one-minute meal that he’ll satisfy his needs. What if I told you that you can turn this into 20 to 30 minutes?

Even better: what if I told you that it doesn’t require ANY effort from you?

Magic combo? I think so! And it’s also perfect for your dog, so don’t hesitate!

The « food all over the floor »/scavenging method:

First take a handful of kibble and sling it in a limited zone of your garden, so that Doggo can understand what’s going on, then you can gradually extend the zone. You’ll see him use his NOOSE and think it’s an exciting activity. Once again, it isn’t a punishment at all!

He might looks puzzled at first, so encourage him with a cheerful voice and show him one or two kibble on the ground. He’ll understand quickly. If you have a garden, it’s easy. If you live in an apartment or if it’s raining too much outside, you can do it on the kitchen floor or in your garage, or you can use a snuffle mat.

The snuffle mat:

Do it yourself or buy it in a pet store or online. Very interesting tool to buy (for example here) or to do yourself, with long ribbons made of a thick cloth, into which Doggo will have to stick his nose to find his food or treats.

In terms of activity, 20 minutes of food-searching are equal to around 2 hours of walking. Not bad, right?

The kong classic:

This interactive toy has become a must-have for dog owners and has saved many pieces of furniture, car seats and owner/dog duos! Made of very strong rubber, available in different sizes and shapes, the Kong is a sort of hollow cone that you can fill with food. The dog will then have to work to pull it out in order to eat it. He’ll have to think, use his tongue, his teeth and paws. It will keep him busy for a while, with a fun and intelligent activity.

The kong can be used for the meals but also to keep your dog busy while you’re away.

You can fill it with wet food, cream cheese/peanut butter/pumpkin puree/ bananas, mixed with kibble… leave some space so the air can get through it and your dog won’t risk any succion effect, and put it in the freezer for 30 minutes to make it harden, this way the work to get it out is a bit longer.

Make sure he can reach the food, so that it doesn’t become a frustrating activity.

If your dog is fast and finishes his Kong in 5 minutes, you can make it harder by attaching it to a rope on a doorknob. This way it will move and Doggo will have to work harder.

Depending on the amount of food you put inside, it can be considered as his meal or an extra.

The wobbler (kong) :

An another amazing tool by Kong ! That food dispenser will make your dog think and work with his paws or his nose to get his kibble out of the Wobbler. That can be a bit noisy when it’s rolling but it’s such a great tool.

The slow feeder dog bowl:

For dogs (and cats) who devour their food in two seconds and look at you as if it’s always been empty, here is a smart bowl. If you don’t want to scatter his kibble or to leave a Kong to your dog, this tool could help you a lot and calm down Doggo during meal time. You can look at this model as an example (but try to find a skid-proof model to avoid the bowl from being scattered all over the house).

The water bottle filled with kibble or treats:

Simply take an empty bottle, make a few holes in it, leave it open and it’ll be your dog’s mission to find how to get the kibble out of there. By making it roll, ripping it apart, shaking it…

What if I have several dogs?

Competition may speed up the pace of your dogs and this is not particularly good for their digestive transit and household peace! One of your dogs could be resource guarding food, so we need to make this safe for everyone.

Ideally, you should separate your dogs to be sure that each of them eats his share and that there are no fights.

This advice also works if you choose to keep feeding your dogs in a bowl 😉

The benefits of feeding your dog without a bowl

My mom’s dog, 14 year-old, didn’t have a taste for eating, she had too much pain because of her age and the end of her life approaching. She used to stay away from her bowl. Putting a few pellets in the grass and encouraging her to look for it reawoke her curiosity and appetite. She had something to do of her day, other than laying down and sleeping. She started eating again without thinking about it. 

No matter your dog’s age, size, weight… Any dog will gain from being fed this way, because it stimulates them mentally. Don’t forget that during this time, he spends the activity time he needs intelligently and so satisfies his physiological needs.

It’s good for his mental and physical health! So ? When do you start ?

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