Turn Your Dog’s Mealtimes Into a
Game of Choice
In a previous blog post, we talked about the power of choice in your dog’s life. Here is a super fun choice game for dogs of all ages. Your dog gets to choose which food toy he will eat his dinner from! (One caveat: if your dog is at all aggressive around food items, do not play this game without professional guidance.)
Let’s get started!
- Two or more food toys such as a slow feeder, a snuffle mat, or a puzzle toy.
- Yummy treats cut into pea-sized pieces.
How to play:
- Your dog will need to wait while you place the different food toys on the floor. Either ask for a sit/stay, put him behind a baby gate, or have someone hold him on leash.
- Place the toys about 3 feet from your dog. Don’t add any food yet.
- Release your dog, (release from the stay; open the baby gate; or have the holder drop the leash) and wait patiently.
- Your dog will check out each food toy.
- Allow him to investigate on his own without you coaxing him or pointing. This is his choice; allow him the freedom of his own decision.
- He may decide quickly or take some time, but whichever he chooses first will be the dinner toy that day.
- Place a treat in the toy he has chosen and praise him.
- Let him eat the treat and when he is done, pick up all the toys.
- Fill the chosen toy with his dinner and put it back down for him to enjoy.
- This is a choice game, not an obedience exercise so don’t nag your dog to stay. This is supposed to be fun! If he does not have an awesome stay, choose another method of having him wait.
- If you’ve waited a full minute and he is still not checking out the toys, point the toys out to him and encourage his exploration.
Courtesy of Florida Veterinary Behavior Service: flvetbehavior.com