During the dinner hour, most American households are bustling with dinnertime to-dos and conversations about the day. Meals are making their way to the table and families are gathering. And wherever the dog bowls are, their furry family members are chowing down, too.
Just as families with kids have to contend with arguments over who gets the biggest dinner roll, those with multiple dogs may have their own mealtime struggles. Whether it's preventing one dog from eating too much or another from eating too little, guarding one dog from stealing from another, or addressing dinnertime fights, feeding multiple dogs can definitely be a challenge.
Fortunately, with a little preparation and strategy, you can help keep the peace at the dinner bowls. Here are some tips for getting started.
Sharing or Stealing Food
First, it’s important that dogs each have separate food bowls. It’s okay to have a community water bowl, but each dog should receive their own helping of food in a separate bowl at mealtimes.
Ideally, each dog receives their meal at the same time and finishes at the same time. But that’s rarely the reality. Some dogs devour their food, while others graze.
This can create problems if one dog eats their food too fast and then moves on to purge their sibling’s remains. If this is happening in your house, consider using a slow-feeding bowl (or feeding puzzle) with the fast eater. This gives other dogs an opportunity to finish at a more languid pace. If that doesn’t do the trick, it may be necessary to feed your slower eaters in a separate room.
Of course, you can also discipline dogs that are prone to steal from a bowl other than their own. Watch carefully as they finish their own meals; then, when they make a move to steal a sibling's meal, put yourself between them and the bowl. Calmly make it clear the bowl isn't theirs. Over time, this will send a clear message that food-stealing isn't allowed.
Resource guarding happens when dogs feel they must defend their food against competitors. We've all seen it before--the dog that growls or snaps at siblings or even small children or caregivers who come too close while they're eating. It’s a learned behavior, and when this aggression succeeds in keeping others away, it tells them that they can repeat the behavior with similar results in the future.
With persistence, this troublesome behavior can also be unlearned. Begin by feeding the dog in a separate room as a temporary measure to prevent fights. This helps reassure them that they have plenty and thus don’t need to guard their bowl. Over time, you can gradually reintroduce the dog to eating in the presence of others.
You can also try removing their food in the middle of their meal, when they've had enough but have not yet finished the entire bowl. This helps reinforce the message that resource guarding will not achieve the desired result of keeping others away and that enough will be given even when there is food left in the bowl. (When practiced with puppies, this approach can help prevent resource guarding problems from developing in the first place.) NOTE: Never attempt to take food away from a biting dog or a dog with a history of biting. Consult with a canine behavioral specialist instead.
In all cases, you'll want to address dinnertime issues as they arise rather than letting them go unchecked. Ignoring them will only make them worse. Being proactive will make sure that dog siblings not only get along at meals, but also get the right nutrition--without having to watch every bite.
And when it comes to excellent dog nutrition, we've got you covered. Recipes like Loyall Life All Stages Chicken & Brown Rice are ideal for families with dogs of different ages and sizes. It’s formulated to meet the nutrition needs of both puppies and adult dogs, which can make feeding time easier. Why not stop by today?