Pet World: 5 ways to slow down a fast-eating dog
I’ve just recently started reading your column because my hubby was given a delightful Golden Retriever puppy. She’s now three-months-old and has a wonderful disposition. The one concern we have is that she eats like she has never eaten, and this is her last meal. She devours it so quickly and seems almost frantic to finish it. We have bought her one of those maze dishes, but it didn’t slow her down much. Now she just turns the bowl over and devours the food. Is there anything else we can do to slow her down?
-Fran, Long Island, Seaford
There are many ways to slow down a fast eater. Let’s run through them, so you can determine what works best for your puppy.
First, continue to use the slow-down bowl, but add water to the food. Sit with her while she eats so you can keep her from flipping the dish. Hold down the dish and gently correct her with a “Shh” sound, and a quick “no,” if she tries to flip it.
Second, feed her smaller meals throughout the day. Dogs should eat two meals a day, but if you're home with her, feed her smaller, more frequent meals to prevent her from overeating at one meal. Overeating and eating too fast is what causes bloat.
Third, train her to be more patient by handfeeding her a few pieces at a time. Make sure she has thoroughly finished chewing and swallowing before giving her more. Don’t give her any food if she is pawing or whining at you. She needs to sit quietly to eat. Only do this if you are giving her several small meals during the day. Otherwise, it could reinforce her need to devour her food when she sees it. Also, this type of training is not meant to be done indefinitely.
Fourth, put her meal into a simple puzzle toy, like the Kong Wobbler. Dogs have to paw at the wobbler to get it to spin, tip and dispense food (or treats). This will extend her feeding time and give her brain a workout.
Finally, consider getting her a snuffle dog eating mat. Hide her food in the mat and let her natural foraging instincts mimic the hunt for food in grass and fields. Dogs are happiest when they are busy.