Let us start with a statement that the right feeding method comes down to the nature of the dog, the dog’s health, your routines and type of food being fed. Hand feeding and feeding with bowls (free feeding and scheduled feeding) are the common dog feeding methods. We will cover free feeding in another blog, however we will tackle hand feeding here.
So hand feeding, yup, you guessed it - feeding the dog with our hands and not with a bowl or other food dispensers. There are pros and cons to this, which we will quickly capture here.
- It is a good way to build a relationship and trust between you and the dog - especially useful to do when you have a new pet in the house. Hand feeding your dog for the first few weeks teaches him that when you reach towards him, good things happen, like he gets to eat!
- Overeating & obesity control. Needless to say, by hand feeding, you can strictly control the amount of food your dog eats and is a nearly sure shot way of controlling your dog’s way, if done correctly. This can, however, go wrong very quickly too, if not done right.
- On some occasions, it is complementing the training because you can introduce a quick training session during meal time and the dog learns not only obedience, but also impulse control as patience & focus are the only two things that can guarantee the dog her meal.
- Controlling fast eaters. If your dog has a habit of choking on his food as he gobbles it down, hand feeding allows the dog to chew and eat his food when offered in small quantities
- You may have heard of resource guarding. That means the dog snarls/growls or shows teeth when anyone approaches the dog’s food. We would strongly recommend using a professional trainer to deal with this problem if it exists, but hand feeding is one of the recommendations trainers offer so you can teach the dog that your presence near its food is not a bad thing…actually it means there is more food coming its way!
However, not all is well in the world of hand feeding.
- Schedule: This method requires a lot of discipline at your end too because you always need to be around to feed the dog or need to arrange for help during those times you are unavailable. So controlling your schedule is key to ensuring a healthy and happy dog being your pet.
- Pampering: Also, if you lack the ability to correctly measure the amount of food you offer the dog, you run the risk of over feeding the dog. Sometimes hand feeding for the dog is just a great way to spend time with you…so be careful of how much you feed the dog!
- Disciplining: For dogs that do not have rules/boundaries set up at home, hand feeding may have the parents pull away the food from the dogs if they misbehave which can sometimes lead to a break of the relationship between the handler and the dog. So remember that hand feeding may give you more power than you can handle when the dogs are yet to learn the right behaviour
- Taking away the dog’s choice: By hand feeding the dog, we generally take away their choice to sniff, chew, walk away depending on the appetite, temperament and the mood of the dog. Forcing the dogs to eat is a common problem faced by hand feeders and generally creates a stressful environment when all the dog wants is to be left alone.
If you have further questions on the best method of feeding, as always, we at Anvis are happy to help!