By Saro Boghozian, Expert Family Dog Trainer
Although food is a very essential part of a dog’s life, it is not the most important part. Dogs rather play, socialize and explore than eating. Since they are scavengers, they will eat whatever they can find most of the time if possible and or not eat at all for a few days. Eating is only important when they are hungry or starving.
Food for dogs has the importance of reward or the pay for a work that they have done but not for behaviour. That is why I don’t agree with using treats or food for training a dog. It confuses them. They like to find (hunt) and work for it. They don’t want to be handed even though that is what most dog owners do when it comes to feeding the dog.
A balanced dog can tolerate being fed by humans as a feeding routine but an unbalanced dog can have a hard time coping with this routine and it may help it to develop some unwanted behavioural issues.
Unbalanced dogs should be fed only when they have completed all aspects of their daily tasks. I call them the five essential needs. That means, they have got their exercise, some form of training, practice and fulfilled their socialization. After, they can be presented with food which can be followed by affection.
So, let’s say if you are feeding your dog twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. I suggest starting the day with exercise, training, socialization and then feeding. The same ritual should apply for the evening.
It doesn’t matter what time you are feeding your dog as long as you accomplish the dog’s five essential needs.