Tools and Tricks to Slow a Gulping Dog
Many pet parents assume that it’s normal and natural for dogs to consume their food in a matter of seconds. But the reality is that gulping food can result in everything from choking and vomiting to bloat, a serious and potentially life-threatening condition.
Unfortunately, this behavior can be challenging to overcome. It’s definitely not easy (although not impossible) to train a dog to slow down. Luckily, there are a number of tools and tricks owners can use to turn their fast food junkie into a leisurely diner:
Purchase a special feeding dish
Gulping food is such a common issue that several pet product companies have designed slow feed bowls to help tackle the problem. These dishes are specifically designed to force dogs to work a little harder to get to their food.
Add a tennis ball to the bowl
If a specialty feeder isn’t in the budget, almost the same thing can be accomplished with a little creativity and a tennis ball. Place the ball in the bowl and then pour in the food. Working around the ball will help ensure that the food is consumed much more slowly. For small dogs, use golf balls instead.
Put meals in muffin tins
Divide the dog’s meal among the individual cups in a muffin tin. They will need to take at least a small break between each cup. For a little extra challenge, balls can be placed over several of the cups so that the dog has to uncover the kibble underneath.
Scientific studies have shown that most animals, when given the choice, would rather work for their food rather than have it handed to them. This is called contrafreeloading, and it’s a great way to slow down dogs while exercising the brain and the body. Scatter food around the kitchen or hide it in different places throughout the house. Pet parents should make it easy at first until their dog gets the hang of it and then increase the challenge.
Use a kibble dispenser or puzzle toy
For those that want to boost the challenge a bit, kibble dispensers and toys are a great choice. There are a number on the market to choose from, ranging from chew toys that can be stuffed with treats to smart dog toys that require the dog to perform a specific action to get their meal. Not only do they slow the dog down, they’re a lot of fun, too!
Your turn: What is your best tip to slow down a fast eater? Share in the comments below.