How Can I Train My Dog to Eat on Command?by Todd Bowerman
Manners at feeding time are critical as training basics.
Feeding your dog doesn’t have to be an ordeal. Teaching your pup to wait for permission to eat helps prevent spills, injuries or a rush to gobble the food. It's a challenging and rewarding exercise in discipline for both you and the dog. It also provides a daily opportunity to run through some training drills without the need for making additional time.
Fill your dog’s food bowl with a normal serving of food for a meal. There’s no need to use treats as the reward for correctly executing this behavior is the meal itself.
Call your dog into the room, assuming he’s not there at the sound of the food bowl. Stand with the bowl in your hand and out of reach of the dog.
Ask the dog to sit. Slowly lower the food bowl toward the ground. If the dog stands or attempts to shove his face into the bowl, raise the bowl and repeat the sit command. Once the dog sits, try lowering the bowl again.
Repeat this process until the dog commits to remaining in the sit until you have place the bowl on the ground. When you're ready, release the dog with a release command, such as "Okay!” or “Come eat!” and let him eat his meal.
Execute this process every single time you feed your dog, and increase the length of time he must wait before eating each time. Your dog should be able to wait patiently while you fill the bowl, place it on the ground, stand up and walk away.
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- If your dog doesn’t know the sit command, you can back him up with your body and force him to keep his distance from the bowl. If he runs to the bowl or tries to get the food while you’re lowering it, stand up and walk toward the dog until the necessary space is created again.
- Once your pup knows to wait for a command to eat, you can use feeding time as an impromptu training refresher. Place the bowl on the ground and ask your dog to complete some simple obedience commands before allowing him to eat.