We’ll talk about how to deliver meals to your dog shortly, but in the meantime, some myth-busting!
Myth: People should eat before the dog eats. This shows the dog that there is a hierarchy.
False: Dogs do not perceive mealtime this way. They simply eat when food is available without overanalysing who eats first and why. This is far too complex a thought process that only a human is capable of, thanks to meta-cognition and the size of our pre-frontal cortex (30% of our brain) compared to the size of a dog’s pre-frontal cortex (7% of their brain).
Myth: Dogs should rest quietly while we eat.
False: Well, yes. That would be nice! However, it’s not likely to happen naturally. Dogs are hunters and scavengers, so they’re opportunists. They don’t rest quietly during our mealtime naturally so I like to set them up for success; feed them at the same time as us, but feed them in a long-term confinement area or crate so that there is physical separation between us. This prevents them from snatching up dropped food items, jumping on our laps, counter-surfing, and begging. Easy solution!
Myth: If I give my dog “human food” s/he will learn to beg.
False: So…what the heck is “human food” anyway? Food is food is food. Kibble is simply an extraordinarily processed version of food. Look at the ingredients! Hopefully you see protein on there, like chicken, beef, salmon, lamb, etc. If you feed your dog some boiled chicken as a topper or a treat, they’re not going to start begging as a result. They’re going to be interested in food either way – it smells amazing to them and is far more enticing than dry kibble. Now, if you feed them from your plate when they’re begging, you will most definitely create a dog who begs because it works. If you don’t feed them when they’re begging, you might see a decline in that begging behaviour.
Myth: I should be able to stick my hand in their food bowl and take their food away as I please.
False: That is super-rude. If anyone did that to me, I would absolutely put up a fight! Yes, it’s frightening when dogs become aggressive over people reaching for their food – they’re protecting a life-sustaining resource as they’re programmed to do! We want to start young. While they’re eating, walk up, drop a delicious treat into their bowl and walk away. Simple! If you do that a couple times during each meal, you’ll have a dog who happily anticipates you approaching and reaching for their food! Ta-da! Magic! Food-guarding has been avoided altogether by creating a fantastic association with you approaching, rather than teaching them that you’re a thief!