Don’t let your dog free feed

Don’t let your dog free feed

by Emily Larlham

Often in a dog training class when I see a client who’s dog isn’t interested in working for food, I think to myself, “Is this dog overweight, ill, fearful, or does this dog have free access to the food bowl?”  Usually I am pretty good at guessing whose dog in a class has their food bowl left down at home.

The problem with giving your dog free access to food all day long is that the dog can habituate to the food and find it less interesting when it is used for training.  The dog might also be too full during training for the rewards to have any meaningful value to the dog.  The solution to this is not deprivation, or feeding the dog less food. It is simply making some of your dog’s daily food contingent on desirable behavior while the dog is motivated to want the food.  If you are really trying to solve a problem behavior or want a really reliable recall, you just won’t get what you had hoped for if you are leaving food down for your dog to have free access to.

Also, if your dog is not eating all the food in his bowl after you put it down, it is most likely you are feeding your dog too much food, or that the dog is becoming bored of the food because he has constant access to it.

This blog post below will help you find out if your dog is overweight:

http://clicktreat.blogspot.se/2012/03/does-your-dog-have-waist.html

If your dog needs to have his food left down for medical reasons, make sure to find some treats that your dog finds more interesting than the food he has free access to.