And during mealtimes, your dog's food drive is often at its peak, so take advantage. Whether you use a snuffle mat, Kong toy, lick mat, or any other puzzle toy, just make sure your dog gets some much-needed mental exercise during their meals.
Not only is it good for their brain, but it also helps slow down their eating to help avoid bloating and other digestive issues.
Every meal should include some brain work. Don't miss it!
TRAINING AND TRICKS
Again, right before mealtime your dog is hungry and anticipating food. So you should take advantage!
Grab a few pieces of their food (if you feed dehydrated or raw this might be a challenge) and set it aside to do some training. You can practice new tricks, reinforce recall, or just work on focus behaviors and listening.
And while I'm not promoting using ALL of their food for training, it's beneficial to use some.
When you have their focus and their food drive is high, it is the best time to reinforce and train new or challenging behaviors. Use their meal as a reward!
TRAIN IMPULSE CONTROL
This one is similar to the previous point, but it's important to specifically train impulse control as part of your dog's meals.
That can be as simple as waiting for a second before eating, or even staying in their place while you prepare the meal until being released.
Another fun game to play is the "See-Saw Game". Here's how to play!
Kneel or stand above your dog with the bowl of food in your hand. Start to lower the bowl.
As you lower, quickly raise the bowl the instant your dog lunges towards or tries to get the food. (Keep a safe distance so you can remove the bowl fast enough from your pup.)
Repeat this behavior until you can successfully lower the bowl all the way to the ground. Once that occurs, mark and reward that behavior by giving the meal!
This can often take many attempts and continued practice, so don't be afraid to just go for partial success in the beginning (ie, lowering the bowl to waist height without your dog moving) and rewarding for that.