Leaving food toys

Leaving food toys

When I work with clients whose adult dogs have clinical separation anxiety, I will not use food toys (like stuffed Kongs) in our training until we have met our goal, and sneaking out while the dog is busy doing something else will only lead to a loss of trust.  

With young puppies, we may choose to use food toys during an absence, but we want to monitor closely to see how the puppy feels once the food runs out. If the puppy is upset when the food runs out, the food was a distraction rather than a training tool and should not be used. We do not want any of the following things to happen:

  • the dog is perfectly fine while they have a food toy and then the panic sets in
  • the dog doesn’t even notice the food toy since stress shuts down the digestive system temporarily so it’s a wasted effort
  • leaving a food toy predicts you leaving, so the dog develops a negative association with the food toy as a result

If any of these happen to your puppy, save the food toys for mealtimes when you are around and you will find that your dog will enjoy them much more!