Today we will talk about an issue many dog owners face. Your dog doesn’t love food. To be more precise, your dog doesn’t love dog food or kibble. What can you do about it?
Well, it is simple, you hand feed your dog and you play games that motivate your puppy to eat kibble. You make kibble a big prize for your dog. Today, I will teach you how to do it.
Why hand feed your dog?
Before we get to what you can do about your puppy not wanting dog food, let’s talk about the benefits of hand feeding your dog.
Simply put, hand feeding is the best way to make your dog love food. The great benefit of using hand feed is that you get your dog to focus on you. That extra focus will come in handy in the future during a training session.
There are many more benefits, including improved impulse control. Hand feeding is great for a shy dog or a fearful dog.
Here is a quick summary of the benefits of hand feeding.
- It helps build a relationship, trust, and bond between you and your puppy. Your pet learns good things happen when you reach toward him
- Helps with a dog that is a resource guarder and prevents dogs from resource guarding
- Improves impulse control. Your dog learns that the quicker he shows self-control, the quicker he will get to eat
- Helps if you have a dog that is a quick eater. You control the pace of eating
- Great for training and teaching new lessons to your dog
What if your dog doesn’t love food?
Now, let’s talk about how you can make your dog absolutely love food. The question is if your dog doesn’t like dog food or kibble, what can you do?
Well, you start with the temperament test. You offer your dog some food. If he takes it, he is cool. But if your puppy doesn’t take the food, it might be upset about anything or just doesn’t like kibble.
Well, this is where the magic happens in dog training. You make food a reinforcement tool. How to do that? Simply, you follow up food with something even better.
You offer your dog kibble, wait for them to take it, and then give them another treat like bacon and cheese. Your dog will quickly understand that if he doesn’t take food, he will not get the big treat. Say good dog, and show your puppy a treat. See how your pup swallows kibble quickly.
Or, you can play. Sit your dog, eat the kibble, and then play a game like fetch, tug toy, or anything else.
What you do is program your dog that after that boring kibble, something good will come. And your dog will start loving food.
Dog Training Games that Involve Food
I have to admit something, a few years ago, Milo absolutely hated kibble. But that is when I discovered that playing games motivates him to eat. Today, I will talk about some dog games you can play with your puppy.
Work for dinner
Here is a dirty little secret most dog trainers do not tell you. Dogs love to work for their food and rewards. They feel they have done something. They feel like they have achieved something and that they have a purpose.
Well, why don’t you take that premise and use it for feeding your dog? I started doing this some three years ago (Milo was almost 2 at the time).
What we did was every night, I would give his dinner after doing simple tricks. Things like sit, lie down, give paw, left paw, right paw, sit again, and so on. Every time he does something I have already trained him to do, I give him kibble. So, you reinforce good behavior, and your dog eats kibble. That is a win-win situation I would say?
Dogs need mental stimulation as much as they need physical exercise. Nose games or sniffing games provide that mental stimulation for your puppy.
I used to play nose games with kibble, nowadays, we have switched to treats following dinner. What I do is I feed Milo dinner, and then I have him sit, put some tasty treats around the house, and let him sniff and find them all. You can do the same with kibble, believe me.
Here is another game that helps with dog training and makes your dog eat kibble at the same time. But you have to get there gradually.
Here is how to play. You start with kibble and treats in your hand. Call your dog, and have him sit next to you. Throw a kibble and let him go and get it. Then call him back. Once your dog returns, you give him a high-value treat.
This teaches your dog that while there are some good things when he moves away from you, the best things happen when he comes back.
Eventually, you can throw one kibble, and then when your puppy comes back, give him a bunch of kibbles. See, win-win!