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new trainer, don't feed from a bowl advice ?

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Hello all,

Just a quick survey of what you all may think of this. I have started with a trainer / Behaviourist in an attempt to improve impulse control and general bonding with my 9 month old boy. She has asked that we do not feed from a bowl any more but use various ways of giving food. See attached link. The point is to strengthen the bond between us ??

https://absolutedog.s3.amazonaws.com/ebooks/DitchTheBowl_v7.pdf

Hope the link works. If not the idea is to feed as treats during walks, snuffle mats, Kongs, scatter in grass Etc but not from a bowl.

 

Brian

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When I don't feed out of a bowl my goal is to enrich my dogs life, not necessarily to strengthen the bond between us, but I can see that it could help because you interact even more with your dog. I never really looked at it that way. 

I sometimes use a Kong or a Wobbler Kong to make feeding time more interesting, get my dog to think :) or I do search games with chews. 

I also use a bowl, but we have a little ritual to make it interesting. She has to give me her bowl, go to a specific place to wait, and I add whatever command we are working on, at the moment it is "stand". 

 

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Sounds to me a bit domineering and controlling..why can't dogs eat in peace? If he doesn't like you messing with him while eating, then don't! Put him in a crate..

The bond with my dogs is based on trust and mutual respect, not me feeding them.

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BY DITCHING THE BOWL WE ARE ENRICHING THEIR LIVES !!

Really? Personally I would only do this as a way to possibly get a non-food motivated dog to respond more positively. But other than that, I don't see my dogs lives being anymore enriched just because I'm making them earn their meals. I'm pretty sure they already feel they've earned whatever I put in their bowls. 

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I'm certainly not saying never to feed from a bowl. I like to do it as an extra so my dog has something else to do besides hanging around.

I don't think a dog that isn't motivated by food would be much interested in a Kong or something like that. 

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3 hours ago, Journey said:

Sounds to me a bit domineering and controlling..why can't dogs eat in peace? If he doesn't like you messing with him while eating, then don't! Put him in a crate..

The bond with my dogs is based on trust and mutual respect, not me feeding them.

I agree, as usual.

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I feed from bowls sometimes, but not all the time and the reason is really simple:

My dogs like to use their brains.  I like to train things.  This makes feeding them their meals via training a 2-fer: 

1-) We get quality time and training time with me, which they enjoy

or 1a:) they get to play with a toy, use their brains and also eat, which they find fun and prevents the one from swallowing food so fast they puke.

2-) I am not giving them more calories than they would normally consume in a day.


I have no doubt that there are people who are control freaks or hard asses about it, but for me (and I suspect most)  it's just play with my dog, while also giving them their regular diet instead of additional treats, while ALSO ALSO teaching them things.  It's positive interaction with me and, as such, it absolutely increases our bond.  hat does not mean it's the only way to positively interact, or you have to use food (or meals) to train or have them, but for me it's a nice way to stack it all together. 

And did I also mention fun?  Because it's also that, for both my dogs and me. 

Feeding in a bowl, again, happens. 4 out of my 5 are eating from a bowl a day.  Unless I use food puzzles which they also prefer because they're FUN FOR THE DOG.  It's brain work, a toy and FOOD, what's not for them to love.   But the dog on a given day not getting fed from a bowl or even toy is the most excited about it :P

 

 

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A dog's life is not in any way "enriched" by not feeding the dog from a bowl, and how anyone could actually say that is baffling to me.

I always feed my dogs from the bowl and think that is the only respectful way to treat the dog. Having said that, however, I will also say that when training a dog I have found it is usually of benefit to take some of the kibble intended for the meal and put it into my pocket before feeding the dog and have a little 5 or 10 minute training session using the kibble for treats. Then I let him have the rest in the bowl as usual. If I had a brand new puppy, I would start out every morning with a little training session, only a minute or two long, on very simple things like sit and lie down and wait, using bits of breakfast as a reward, and then would put down the rest in a bowl.

Only if I had a special case of a dog would I not use a bowl, and even then only for a very limited time. When I have had a terrified or shut down foster dog I have tried feeding the dog by hand, but only once the dog was comfortable enough with me to eat while I was in the room. I did find that hand-feeding brought us closer together in those rare cases, but it is not something I would recommend otherwise.

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You can do both. If you have a dog who needs supplements, as my dog does, you feed about half his meal in a bowl, with supplements added. 

The 'treat' dispensing toys I use are just as 'hands off' as the bowl. I fill them, I put them down, he starts working at it. Don't really see how that 'increases the bond'. He definitely knows that food in any form comes from The Human.

The link you provided didn't work for me. Perhaps there is a trick?  And I totally agree w/the idea of not messing with their food! Making them work for it is way different than putting it down, taking it away. Soooo not a good idea. In fact, I'd think that is a great way to create MISTRUST.

Ruth & Gibbs

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I will admit I didn't read the actual link, I am just utterly baffled by the idea that giving a dog food in a toy, or from your hand during play or training is somehow disrespectful.  Not messing about with their food, I get, but 'disrespecting the dog' by using meals for training? even a WHOLE meal (look sometimes I Reward with entire handfuls of kibble) because it's not in a bowl?  That's just bizarre to me, unless someone is advocating for a situation  where you're forcing the dog to deal with you or starve. 

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Our boy (now ten months) has been having his food out of Kongs since I discovered them at about 3 months. They're just stuffed with his normal food (kibble and a bit of canned food, sometimes topped with peanut butter) and frozen. As a younger puppy he wasn't very enthusiastic about eating but always loved the Kongs and they keep him busy for half an hour or so which is useful for us. He also has a wobble Kong which has a handful of biscuits in. He's not a very hungry dog and will rarely eat kibble out of his bowl but does play with the wobble Kong and eat from it every so often. And we use food treats when training, they're not rationed as he's not greedy and is going through a sleek stage.

I've just started giving a meal out of his bowl, usually on days where he's done more running around and is more tired or looking thinner.

I expect as an older dog he won't want to 'work' for his food from Kongs so much, or if he was out working sheep or hiking or doing agility all day then I'd expect to feed him from the bowl. But for a young active dog that does not have unlimited space it keeps him busy, satisfies his chewing needs and gets food inside him. It also seems to de-stress him if we've been for a particularly arousing outing.

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Thanks to all for the replies. It seems as though there are mixed feelings on this. I personally do not see the harm in feeding from a bowl but am willing to give the other method a try. So far he seems to enjoy getting his food from various sources but was a little confused at first. I guess the most important thing is to keep my dogs welfare and happiness as my first concern and the bonding and good behaviour will follow.

Thanks again to all.

Brian

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Am I misusing the word enrich? (Honest question - not a native speaker).

What I meant was that I use kongs and such for a fun extra to make my dogs life a little bit more varied: thus enriching her life. How that would be disrespectful or domineering or baffling I really don't understand. It doesn't mean everyone should or that it is somehow harmful to your dog's life to feed from a bowl.

 

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3 hours ago, Flora & Molly said:

Am I misusing the word enrich? (Honest question - not a native speaker).

What I meant was that I use kongs and such for a fun extra to make my dogs life a little bit more varied: thus enriching her life. How that would be disrespectful or domineering or baffling I really don't understand. It doesn't mean everyone should or that it is somehow harmful to your dog's life to feed from a bowl.

 

Perhaps it's based on the theory that whoever controls the food is the "alpha of the pack"? Many people dislike that idea and research has shown that it is not as effective. It tends to elicit a strong response when the theory is put up for debate. ;) 

I wonder if the trainer who started this idea intended it for the average dog owner who doesn't interact with their dog very much? By "ditching the bowl" the owner has to spend more time with the dog, thus adding more training, games, and "enriching" their life. So instead of only interacting with the dog by putting meals down and taking the dog outside, etc. the owner has to interact more by playing games and training. That may be the only goal of the trainer who suggested this. It may have nothing to do with the dog and more to do with training the person to interact with their dog Just a thought.

I think it's a bit extreme to ditch the bowl. I know many people give some, if not all, of the dog's meal during training sessions just to avoid overfeeding. (Meals in addition to training treats can end up being quite a bit of food!) 

Kongs are a great toy and I don't think anyone was commenting on the use of Kongs. I think the reaction was only to the article posted and since that article was not linked correctly some may have not had the opportunity to read it.

Interesting discussion! I had not heard that new idea of not using a bowl at all.

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8 minutes ago, Flora & Molly said:

I don't see how the alpha theory has anything to do with not using a bowl. (Or anything I said about enriching a dogs life)

I was theorizing that the idea of not using a bowl connects to the alpha theory since it means that all food comes directly from the human's hand. The idea is that in the wild, the alpha wolf controls who eats the food and when. Therefore, some believe that by being in direct control of the food their dog receives that they are demonstrating to the dog that they are the alpha. 

And if you'll note, I did not connect anything you said with the alpha theory. I merely suggested that may be why some are so against the idea if they are making the same connection to the alpha theory. I thought you may have mistaken some posts as being directed towards you. As I previously stated: " I think the reaction was only to the article posted and since that article was not linked correctly some may have not had the opportunity to read it." (Possibly causing some confusion as to what the trainer was saying)

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It's not about being alpha. The human being controls the food because that is the only way the dog can get fed unless you let your dog run wild to catch his own food. I agree that it has nothing to do with whether or not to use a bowl. I have also used the majority or all of the meal's kibble as training treats when I was concerned the dog might get too many calories. This applies to my Boo, for instance, who tends to put on weight but needs a great deal of treats when we are learning a new Freestyle move. It's just practical and doesn't have any relationship to enrichment as such; but certainly the training itself, which I always make fun for the dog, is an enrichment to the dog's life. I think that is what Flora and Molly was getting at.

 

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13 minutes ago, Lenie said:

...that article was not linked correctly some may have not had the opportunity to read it....

For some reason it's only hyperlinked to a portion of the URL. I had no problem finding the article by copying the entire URL, but for anyone who can't figure that out, I think this one will work.

https://absolutedog.s3.amazonaws.com/ebooks/DitchTheBowl_v7.pdf

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11 minutes ago, Flora & Molly said:

I don't see how the alpha theory has anything to do with not using a bowl. (Or anything I said about enriching a dogs life)

 

 

I think that the second paragraph was meant to address the concept in general, with only the first bit directed as a reply to you - in which case, if people subscribe to the theory that having/controlling the food is an act of 'dominance' it would seem a bit more... domineering. 

 

That said re: 2nd paragraph, I absolutely think it was intended s a  means of getting people to interact and play with their dogs more, rather than much to do with their dogs.  Lots and lots of people just don't.  The dog is simply existing in the margins of their life and there.  Getting them to directly engage the dog - or play with the dog, or train the dog - is going to improve bond and quality of the dog's life.  I think 'don't use a bowl' is just a means of... accomplishing thing. 

Though not knowing where this actually originated or with whom much less everyone suggesting it, I can't say.

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Ah sorry Lenie, I read you quoting me wrong :) thanks for clarifying.

I don't think I read some post wrong, unless the article says something about enrichment, I was the one using that term and people seemed to dislike the term. So I thought it might have some associations I am not familiar with (because I genuinely don't understand the problem)

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15 minutes ago, Flora & Molly said:

Ah sorry Lenie, I read you quoting me wrong :) thanks for clarifying.

I don't think I read some post wrong, unless the article says something about enrichment, I was the one using that term and people seemed to dislike the term. So I thought it might have some associations I am not familiar with (because I genuinely don't understand the problem)

No worries, I'm sure I could have written my post better.

The article does use the term enrichment... "by ditching the bowl we are enriching their lives". 

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28 minutes ago, D'Elle said:

 The human being controls the food because that is the only way the dog can get fed unless you let your dog run wild to catch his own food.

:lol: Very true. I was venturing into a psychology concept in which a difference is made between the dog connecting the food to the bowl vs. connecting the food to the human's hand. In other words, a dog might view the bowl as the source of food rather than the human. It's just an idea in psychology in how animal's brains make connections. I should have left the psychology theories out of this thread. Apologies everyone!

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Ah starting to understand now. I really shouldn't open the forum on my phone :) It makes me miss stuff. Sorry.
Thank you for your patience and explaining it to me.

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