Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ask the Trainer: Fast Eaters

Lowcountry Dog Magazine
by Susan Marett on Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011 at 9:30am | filed in Ask the Trainer Training


The Problem: My 6 year old lab-husky mix Bailey gulps down his dinner in less than 2 minutes and swallows treats whole without chewing at all. He was rescued as a stray, he has been with us for 5 years but it seems as though he is still fearful of going hungry. Could this be harmful to him and if so, how do we get him to slow down AND chew?

The Solution:

Eating a meal too quickly can occasionally cause vomiting and in some cases can increase a dog's chances for bloat to occur. Bloat is also known as "gastric torsion" and can be life-threatening, so it is good to take some steps to slow our dogs down at mealtime.

One tried and true solution is to place a small barrier in the way of the dog so that he must eat around it. You can try placing a small stone, brick, or another smaller inverted bowl in his dish so that he takes longer to eat. There are also dog dishes on the market that accomplish this: one product is the "Brake Fast Dog Bowl." This bowl is available at most of our locally owned pet supply stores.

If you dog likes toys, you could also feed him all of his meals in food-dispensing toys such as the Buster Cube, Kong, Kibble Nibble Ball, and etc. This is fun for most dogs and good mental exercise as well. This will insure that he eats more slowly.

Last, you could simply feed him a little at a time -- filling the bowl with a handful of Kibble and letting him finish it -- then refilling the bowl with a little more. I'd also recommend that you add water to his food (if he's not eating out of toys). This will help with digestion!

With his dog treats, teach him to take the treats gently. Taking them gently will slow him down a little. You can give mostly soft treats as well so that digestion is easier.

If you have a question for Susan Marett of Purely Positive Dog Training, email your question to using the subject line: Ask A Trainer.

Susan Marett has 14 years of full time dog training experience. She has appeared on local radio show Pet Docs, the South Carolina Public Radio Business Review, and local TV Channels 4 and 5 to present training methods and answer questions on dog behavior. Susan has also authored numerous articles for local publications on training and behavioral issues, and spoken to Charleston area shelter and veterinary staff on behavioral problems.

Susan is also a Canine Good Citizenship Evaluator for the American Kennel Club and a trainer mentor for Animal Behavior College. Her dogs have titled in Agility and Rally Obedience, and earned Therapy Dog Certifications. Susan is an Honors College graduate of the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Film.

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