Feeding time behaviour: our top tips

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A healthy appetite and enthusiasm around food can be signs of a happy dog. But when your dog seems to love their food a little too much – lunging at anything vaguely edible or growling when someone comes near their bowl – it can be cause for concern. Head Vet Sean is here with some tips on making dinner time more relaxed.

What are good dinner time manners for dogs?

Feeding time manners for dogs generally mean staying calm and in control around food. This is good for your dog’s wellbeing, and makes for a more relaxed household all round. Behaviours it’s best to put a stop to include:

  • Begging at the table
  • Jumping up to get food
  • General over-excitability
  • Eating other dogs’ food
  • Snatching treats from your hand

How can I get my dog to behave better at mealtimes?

It’s best to establish good food manners while your dog is still a young pup, but it’s never too late to start. Dinnertime training tips include:

Keep training positive – ignore negative behaviour and always reward good manners

Keep things calm around mealtimes – teaching manners to an already over-excited dog is super tricky

Feed dogs separately – More than one dog? One-to-one attention can help instil good habits, so try staggering feeding times until you’re confident they’ve all got it down.

Be consistent  – if you allow unwanted behaviours occasionally, your dog will think they’re acceptable all the time

Steps for good feeding time behaviour

How can I train my dog to behave better around food?

Whether you’re feeding puppies or an adult dog, encouraging good manners starts with a few simple commands. Some will help when feeding your dog, others when it’s your turn for dinner.

‘Sit’ and ‘wait’

Teaching your dog to sit and wait before you put their bowl down is a good way of encouraging self-control around food. It also shows them that their good manners get rewarded.

‘Go to bed’

Stop your dog begging at the table by establishing a routine they can enjoy while you eat. A food toy on their bed, or in their crate, can work wonders. Once your dog learns that they get to have fun while you’re at the table, mealtimes become more relaxed for everyone.

‘Leave’

Teach your dog to walk away from any food they shouldn’t have. As an incentive, swap what’s off limits for something more dog-friendly – like a tasty dog treat or toy.

‘No’

If your dog is allowed to snatch food, even just a few times, they’ll keep doing it in the hope it pays off again. Make sure the whole family is strict – a few secret scraps can undo the rest of the hard work you’ve put in.

Teaching your dog good manners can take time and a lot of patience, but it’s worth the effort. If you’d like more advice on dinner time manners or how to feed a dog, you can ask our veterinary and nutritionist team at hello@tails.com.

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