If you live in a multi-dog household, feeding time can be a frenzy. While some dogs will only eat out of their own bowl, others will try and steal food from their canine companion. This can result in unwanted aggressive behavior. Moreover, it can also have long-term health consequences for both dogs involved. While one gets fat, the other one won’t get the vital nutrients he needs.
If you’re wondering how to prevent your dog from eating out of the other’s dish, follow these proven tips and tricks to put an end to the problem once and for all.
Understanding the Issue
In the wild, dogs have a hierarchical structure within their packs. The pack leaders will always eat first, followed by the more submissive canines. If you own multiple dogs, there will typically be a top dog within your house’s “pack.” That dominant dog will display his alpha-ranking by eating the other one’s food. It’s vital that you teach your pets to respect each other’s food bowls and eat only the food that is offered to them.
1. Claim and Control Method
To ensure this method works, you’ll need to arm yourself with high-value dog treats. The claim and control method takes patience and time. It’s important to allocate enough time to fully supervise your dogs as they’re eating so you can properly implement the commands. You may also need to separate the dogs, either in different rooms or in different crates, until they fully comprehend what you’re teaching them.
Start off by filling both of the dog dishes. Temporarily remove the pup that is getting his meal stolen from him.
Allow the food thief to eat from his own dish. When he tries to approach the other bowl, gently push him away and place yourself between him and the extra dish.
Firmly say “off” or “leave it.”
Give the dominant dog a treat after he submits. Remove him from the area and allow your second dog to eat his meal. Repeat this method during every feeding session for a couple of weeks.
After you see results, allow the two dogs to eat together. If the alpha dog tries to steal the other dog’s food, push him away, insert your body, and say the “leave it” command. Allow the other dog to finish his food. Repeat this method for as long as it’s required.
2. Leave It Command
Present a high-value treat to your dog in a closed hand. Say “leave it” firmly as he sniffs it. Only give him the goodie after he’s finally stopped investigating it.
Put some dry kibble on the floor and tell your dog to “leave it.” After he obeys, reward him with a high-value dog treat.
Try playing the game in a few different rooms of your home. Once he learns the command, apply it to the dog food. Firmly say “leave it” whenever the dominant dog approaches the other one’s bowl.
3. Taking Turns
If the claim and control or leave it methods don’t work, you may have to take turns feeding your dogs. Create a feeding schedule for each dog and be consistent with it. Separate the two dogs during feeding time. Always feed the alpha dog first. Give him several minutes to consume his meal and then remove him from the room. Bring your other dog into the area and allow him to finish his food.
After a few days, your dogs will learn their appropriate feeding times. While the other dog is awaiting his turn, distract him with a toy.
4. Feed in Different Rooms
If worse comes to worst, you may have to feed your dogs in completely different rooms. Sometimes separating them will ensure everyone is protected. Make sure that each dog eats in the same room at the same time. If a dog wanders away from his dish before he finishes his meal, close the door or use a baby gate to prevent the other one from stealing his food. You may also have to remove the food if the dog doesn’t completely finish it.
While some dogs will easily learn the leave it or claim and control techniques, others will have to be fed separately. When selecting a method that works best for you, make sure you and your pets are all protected.
Every dog should enjoy his meal without another one stealing it. With time and patience, you can teach your dogs to only eat their own food.
Featured Image Credit: Przemek Iciak, Shutterstock