Meal Time Rituals
Meal time for you dogs is a ritual which you as a pack leader should have control on. Feeding your dog should always be after you have your meal, which puts you in a pack leader's position in your dog's mind. Food should be stored where your dog can't access it and you or any other family member, should be the only provider of the food.
Never feed your dog scraps while you are eating. If you do, what you are telling your dog is that he/she can have your food during your meal time and when the dog is having his/her meal, we never touch their food. In the wild, the pack leader never shares his/her meal with any other pack member. Once the pack leader finishes the meal, everyone else can make their move to have the rest. If you have more than one dog in your house, feeding you dogs off your plate while you eating might create some fights between them.
If you do have some left over food in your plate (e.g. Chicken, steak etc.), cut it up into small pieces and use it as treats for your training sessions.
It's very important to use your hands/fingers to mix the food for your dog. This will help to transfer your scent to the dog's food. Being a pack leader it's crucial for you to involve yourself in this ritual of meal time. If you are using a mixture of wet and dry food, don't be afraid to get your hands dirty to mix the food. If you are feeding just dry kibble, you can hand feed your dog. If you have finished a jar of pasta sauce or jam etc., and there is a bit of stuff stuck to the jar, put some water in it and give it a good shake and pour that in the dry food and mix it up with your hands. This way you can clean the recycling and your dog can have a bit of flavour in his/her food.
When you put the food bowl down, always make your dog wait till you tell them to have it. To achieve that, before you put the food down tell your dog to sit. When you first put the bowl down and your dog lunges at it, pick it up and tell your dog to sit. Repeat the same process if your dog lunges again. When you put the food down again and your dog doesn't lunge and stays in the sit position even for 5 seconds, say your command ("Go" or "Okay") and let your dog have the food. Next time repeat the same process but wait for 10 seconds. Gradually increasing the time is the key to success.
- Keep the environment calm during meal times
- No scraps while you eating
- Mix the food with your hands
- Make your dog wait, till you say your command