This title sounds contrary to commonsense, doesn’t it? But, it’s not. Mom is working on a dog-training handbook, an updated and abridged version of Dima’s Dog School, which she co-wrote with the Dog Whisperer of London, Dima Yeremenko of the Good Boy Dog School. She was typing out one section that is worth sharing with dog owners about fussy eaters. He recommends fixing this learned behavior with a limited regime of Handfeeding, a process where you feed your dog from your hand instead of out of his food bowl. “You simply get rid of his feeding bowl – temporarily – to teach him to become motivated to learn,” says Dima. He uses it with all dogs, whatever life stage or circumstance they are in or came from, and it is amazingly effective:
I often hear new clients tell me their dog is a fussy eater. The fussy dog is one that either leaves his food untouched or leaves it for some time before going back to it. He is the alpha dog in the mixed, human-dog pack that occupies that home. In a free-living pack of dogs, only the top dog has the privilege of leaving his food and returning to it as he wishes. By allowing him to feed at will, a finicky dog’s owner has unwittingly granted him this license.
The fussy eater is making up the rules, instead of his owner. He knows that his food will remain untouched by human hands until he is good and ready to eat. But fussy eating is a learned habit, and a bad one. One hundred percent of all healthy pups as young as 3.5-4 weeks respond to food perfectly well. By the age of five months, a good third of all puppies show less interest in the treats offered them than we’d like to see. There’s nothing wrong with these puppies, they’ve just become master manipulators. Puppies are mad about food, as we’d expect them to be, but through our bad habits and misinformation we create and perpetuate bad eating habits.
Handfeeding can be the perfect solution for fussy eaters. They’ll soon learn you no longer have patience for this type of behavior. It needs to stop right here and now, as this is where your dog’s training foundations begin. For now, put away your dog’s feeding bowl, or, as Dr Ian Dunbar says, throw it away! It’s getting in the way of establishing a good and healthy relationship between you and your dog. It’s confusing your communication channels. Soon you’ll be able to go back to a regular feeding program. For now, though, put that bowl away!
Dima’s unique Handfeeding method is described in full detail, complete with training sessions, in his book, Dima’s Dog School. You can also join his Facebook group, Good Boy Dog School, and meet lots of his loyal fans, share tips and ask questions. Even though we are on the other side of the pond from Dima, Mom is still very connected to him and uses his training approach. She may not be a trainer (sorry, Mom, but you are STILL a soft touch), but she likes to keep up with what’s happening in the dog world and make sure we young pups are ‘with it,’ as she says. She also keeps putting the book under our pillow at night, hoping it will train us by osmosis.
Dream on, Mom.
By Happy Randolph
Remember, Dogs are People, too!