Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hand-Feeding - How and Why

Today we're switching everything up and starting hand-feeding. The plan is for Bugs to be hand-fed only for about a week and gradually step down to eating from her bowl.

Firstly you are probably wondering why we would do something like this. Doesn't everyone just put the food in a dish and let the dog eat it? Isn't that easier?

Yes, it probably is easier. But hand-feeding a dog does two things: It teaches the dog that you are the benevolent leader, and it strengthens the bond between leader and dog. It's also a great opportunity to teach the dog it's name, if you happen to have a new puppy or dog.

You don't have to do this with a new dog. If you notice that training is slipping a bit, or if the dog is starting to bond other dogs in the family more strongly than with the leader, start hand-feeding to reinforce your place as the wonderful Giver of Food.

So - how do you hand feed? It's easy. Tether the dog to your waist and prepare the meal. Sit in a chair and place the dog in a sit, if he or she is large. Now take scoops of the food and gently hold it out for the dog to eat from your hand. As you do this, touch the dog gently and say his or her name. Keep your voice quiet, calm, reassuring, and full of love. Exuberant phrases like "Good dog! What a good dog! Atta boy, dog!" will only distract your pet. Instead, say gentle phrases. It doesn't matter what you say - dogs don't speak human language. Something like, "Oh, gooood girl, Bugs. Thaaaat's a good girl...."  --- Just be absolutely sure that your energy is calm and positive.

When the meal is done, say nothing. Just stand up and walk the dog to it's potty area.

Make sure that all human members of your family hand-feed the dog, once you've done it for a few days. Supervise children very carefully and don't attempt with kids under the age of 9 or 10, because the dog could accidentally bite a small finger while trying to get the kibble.

Try it out for a week and see if you can tell the changes in your dog!

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