What is your dog’s favorite time of the day? For many dogs, it’s mealtime! If I had dogs rank their favorite things on a scale of 1-10, I’m sure eating would be a 15. Nothing makes dogs’ tails wag faster than seeing me reach for their food. We've had dogs drool, jump up and down, bark, run in circles, run around the room, and create general chaos - all because they were excited to see their food bowls.
Feeding from a bowl is convenient and quick for most, but after years of putting food in a bowl for dogs to gulp down in less than a minute, I realised that I was wasting fantastic opportunities. If I made some changes, I could bond with our dogs, challenge them mentally, and extend their happiness past 60 seconds. There are so many ways to enrich a dog’s life during mealtime, we will be showing you a new way each day this month, many of which will cost you nothing!
Puzzles, Kongs and food dispensing toys act as enrichment for the dogs, which enhances the quality of care by providing the environmental stimuli necessary for optimal psychological and physiological well-being. Basically, it lets the dogs work their noses, paws, mouths and brains! Plus, it provides a lot of fun and improves their problem solving skills, making them easier to train - whats not to love!
Moving beyond the bowl and finding new ways to feed your dog produces many benefits. Boredom and destructive behaviors decrease while creativity and constructive activity increases. If your dog eats very quickly, taking away the bowl and feeding via a puzzle toy, treat dispenser, or by hand in a training session will slow down your dog and decrease the likelihood of bloat, poor digestion, and other problems associated with fast ingestion.
Best of all, when you feed your dog with a bowl free method, you’re not only training your dog, but building a stronger bond. Your dog loves to eat, and loves to find ways to find food. When you hand-feed and play with your dog during his meal, you become the source of that coveted meal. Your dog will enjoy spending this quality time with you, and you will enjoy spending the extra special time with him!
The Natural Bowl - Pumpkin & Apple
In this introduction to bowl free feeding we encourage the use of a natural bowl. This method is suitable for all types of food including biscuits and raw. Suitable for all breeds big and small, just choose a suitable size pumpkin or apple.
Pumpkin has many health benefits for dogs and is one food that pet owners can feel confident about safely adding it to their dog’s diet. Pumpkin is incredibly nutritious, easy to prepare and has almost no side effects. But be careful, not all pumpkins are created equal. The pumpkin that you carve for Halloween, for example, is potentially full of mold and bacteria after it’s been sitting on your front porch for several weeks. It’s not a good idea to feed any pumpkin you are using as decor to your dog. Don’t take the risk. Instead, use only FRESH pumpkins.
Apples also contain some dietary fibre, and some minerals, including phosphorus and calcium. Most experts agree that the flesh of the apple is safe for dogs to eat. You can also freeze apple slices or pulp to give dogs a refreshing treat or use apple in recipes for baked dog treats. Apples do contain lots of sugar so do not use too often. Do not feed the seeds of apples to your dogs, they contain cyanide which is toxic.
Both of these natural bowls could be frozen with raw food or perhaps biscuits with yoghurt or gravy inside to make the experience last even longer! Get creative with you pumpkins - you could carve holes and let your dog roll it around to release the food. Please do share your photos of pumpkin and apple bowl feeding with us. Perhaps you could try this with your cats, rabbits, guinea pigs and chickens too!
Before we get into how to use the natural bowl we must first cover a few safety points!
- Do not feed raw pumpkin seeds
- Only use fresh pumpkin & apple
- Do not feed any apple seeds
- Feed apples in moderation due to sugar content
So how do you use The Natural Bowl method:
Step 1 - Open the pumpkin or apple
Step 2 - Scoop out the seeds to create a smooth bowl
Step 3 - Fill with your chosen food type
Step 4 - Freeze! - Optional
Step 5 - Let the fun begin! Perhaps best done outside!