Having a dog is a wonderful thing. They’re your best friend, your closest companion, and guaranteed they’ll follow you around wherever you go like your own shadow!
Dogs are very loving and loyal creatures. They just want to be with us all of the time. They want to sleep, play, eat and do everything with us.
However, you have to implement some rules and boundaries if you want to have a well behaved and well mannered dog in your home.
One of the ways that owners do this is by training their dogs to eat on command. This is so that your dog does not run head first into its food, steal other people’s food or take anything off of the kitchen counter.
It is also a great way to ensure that your dog is safe, as they should not take food from a stranger unless instructed to do so by their owner.
As we all know, dogs are highly food motivated. So, how do we get them to eat on command rather than dive head first into the food, munching and crunching to their heart’s delight?
This guide will teach you why and how you can train a dog to eat on command!
Why You Should Train Your Dog To Eat On Command
Training your dog to wait for your command and for permission to eat is not a new concept and many dog owners naturally do this.
I for one, have to do it or my dog will be all up in my grill whilst I’m trying to fill the bowl, and her head will be in it before I’ve even set it down.
Instead, we’ve trained her to wait patiently until the bowl is filled, set down and I have moved out of the way before she is permitted to go ahead and eat.
This is so much easier and far less stressful than having your dog try to lunge at the food whilst you serve it.
Teaching your dog to wait for permission to eat is also a great way to prevent any accidents, spills, injuries or a rush to get to the food. It’s also an easy and simple command to teach your dog that can increase the bond between you and them.
Having your dog wait until you give the command to eat can also help you better control your dog, and teaches them to focus on you rather than anything else, which is a valuable skill for other situations.
For instance, the same skills can be applied with the command ‘leave it’, so that if there is something that could potentially pose a risk to you or your dog, your dog already knows to focus on you, and only goes when you say so.
This is also beneficial for you in case you are worried about your dog ingesting something that it shouldn’t.
Unfortunately, there have been cases where enticing dog foods such as sausages have been left out and laced with poisonous substances for dogs to eat.
By teaching your dog to only eat on your command you are able to minimize this risk in the future, and prevent your dog eating things that might not necessarily agree with them.
How To Train A Dog To Eat On Command
To train your dog to eat on command, you will have to teach them to wait to get their food, and then release them when it’s time to eat.
This can be done with some simple training and commands, and will not take long for your pup to grasp the concept. So, how do you do this?
The first step is to fill up your dog’s bowl partially with normal mealtime food that they’re used to. It’s best to use about a quarter of the normal serving, so that you have more food leftover to practice with.
Now, we have two methods that you can try. The first involves lowering the bowl down towards your dog’s regular eating place.
Then, try to get to about knee level without your dog jumping or rushing at you to get the food. If they do, they stand back up and keep the food high enough out of their reach.
When your dog shows patience, and waits, give them a piece of the food from your hand and praise them. Repeat this process until you are able to get the bowl lower and lower and to the floor without them lunging at the bowl.
Alternatively, once you have filled the bowl you can use another method. This is the one that I used for my dog.
Once you have the bowl with the food in, the chances are that your dog is fully focused on you and waiting for their food. Hold the bowl to your chest, or in a way that your dog cannot jump up and get to it.
Then, you’ll need to ask your dog to sit. Do not reward when they sit or obey this command. Now, you’ll want to start lowering the bowl down the floor, and ask your dog to Wait.
Your dog will need to demonstrate that they can remain sitting and waiting calmly for you to place the bowl fully down on the floor. If your dog cannot do this, then do not lower the food, simply get them to sit again and Wait.
If your dog is sitting calmly and stays that way, then begin lowering the bowl down. If they stand up again and move, then stop lowering and stand back up yourself until they sit again.
Ask your dog to sit, and lower the bowl saying Wait. Only when your dog is sitting and waiting can you release them and let them have the food with your chosen word such as Okay, or Eat, or Yes!
You may have to repeat this process a few times until your dog grasps the idea that they will not get their food unless they sit, wait patiently and wait for your command to release them.
You will also want to practise this one by only releasing your dog when their focus and their eyes are completely on you, and not the food.
This will ensure that you are the one in control, and they are waiting for your say and your command. You can then implement this in other aspects of your dog’s training.
To summarize, teaching your dog to only eat on your command can be much safer and beneficial for your dog. It can also strengthen the bond between you and your dog, and can help you apply those skills to other situations so keep your dog safe, happier and healthier.
Just remember that in whatever command you are teaching your dog, you need to be patient, positive, and reward good behavior instead of punishing bad behavior.
Then, your dog should be able to pick up new commands very quickly with consistent and frequent training…oh and a lot of treats.