Many dogs are voracious eaters. For some, this can mean that food seemingly disappears two seconds after you set the bowl down and your dog apparently inhales her kibble. Fast eating can be a problem for a number of reasons. In terms of health, rapid eating can lead to choking, bloat, and indigestion. A dog who eats too fast is also less likely to feel full, meaning that begging could follow meal times.
It can be difficult to train your dog to eat slower, but there are still several solutions you can use that will encourage your dog to eat at a healthier and safer speed.
Ideas to Slow Down a Fast Eating Dog
The traditional dog food bowl makes it easy for dogs to take a large mouthful of kibble and dogs that eat quickly will often chew only a little before swallowing food. The following methods will slow down how fast your dog eats kibble, and some can work for wet dog food as well:
- Slow Feeder Bowls - Slow feeder bowls for dogs are available at pet stores and online. They have several ridges in different designs built into the bowl. Your dog will have to navigate around these ridges to get every piece of food. There are a wide variety of bowl sizes and designs available to help you customize your bowl for your dog. You can also make a slow feeder bowl yourself by setting a small bowl upside down in your dog’s food bowl and pouring the food around it.
- Snuffle Mat - Snuffle mats have strips of fabric, resembling a very shaggy blanket. You can hide all of your dog’s kibble in between the fabric strips and let your dog use her nose to locate each piece. Snuffle mats are often used for play, but they can be good for dinnertime too depending on the size of the snuffle mat and the amount you feed your dog.
- Treat Dispensing Toys - Toys that hold treats, like a Kong, can force your dog to eat slower. Put all of their food in the toy and let your dog bounce and roll the toy around to get dinner. There are several toy styles to match your dog’s puzzling ability, and several are large enough to fit your dog’s entire meal.
- Feed During Training - Another option for slower feeding is to mix training and dinner. You can have your dog follow a command and then hand feed her a few pieces of kibble as positive reinforcement. This slows down feeding, helps reinforce good behavior, and establishes you as the pack leader and provider.
In addition to slowing down your dog’s eating speeds, all of these feeding methods provide mental stimulation as well. This makes them a great idea even for dogs that do not eat fast since it is a good way to keep them more entertained, prevent boredom, and make mealtimes more fun.