Feeding time

Feeding time at my house is a structured event; it is because of this that we never have any issues.  Each dog has an eating position and number in the delivery system.  The delivery system number is important because we don't always eat in the kitchen.  As I've explained before we often eat in the backyard; sometimes out of bowls, other times I feed out of one big bowl so the dogs need to learn to wait their turn.  This order helps greatly in the natural grabbing instinct of dogs.

When I start the feeding process there is commotion, mostly from Jessie.  The poodles tend to be more mannerly about their excitement level.  Luke only comes into the kitchen at preparation time if I happen to be making one of his favorites.  Jessie bounds around with gusto anxiously awaiting her favorite time of the day.  When I do grab a bowl all the dogs know that it is for Jessie.  Luke and Tilley quietly stand back waiting.  Once Jessie has hers then it is Tilley's turn and she is more than likely lying on her bed patiently.

Often I have to add something extra yummy to Luke's bowl to ensure that he will eat a little something so he waits.  He knows that his bowl is last; this is very reassuring to him.  If feeding time was a free for all it would be very unsettling for a dog like Luke.  You can feed dogs in a supervised manner without all the order but you must have good control and there will still remain the element of  uncertainty.  To help with the sense of "is that my bowl?" you use names, very important.  When you have a pack your dogs must be accustom to listening for their name.  After all you cannot always do everything in a pack.

Once Jessie is done eating she is physically removed from the room.  This is new and due to her dementia, deafness and loss of vision.  It works well and even when we do have a toss the food around the yard day everyone is calm and under control.    I remember a time when we were visiting a breeders house looking at puppies; calm was nothing near what occurred.  We were in a very small room with probably 6 large dogs when a neighbor brought over a container of left over hot dogs.  The woman who was the owner of the dogs proceeded to toss the hot dogs around the living room and bedlam ensued.  My husband and I stood looking at each other as the dogs slammed into each other and grabbed out of other dogs mouths.  It was quite the experience and we left, puppyless.

Feeding time can be a calm and civil event if you take control and make the rules very clear for all involved.