How to Train Your Dog to Eat from His Bowl

Medium
2-4 Weeks
General

Introduction

Your pup started out life getting all of his nutrition from his mother's milk, but there comes a time when he needs to learn how to eat from his bowl. You can try hand feeding him for a while, but there is going to come a time when he needs to grow up and learn to eat from a bowl. Not only will this make life easier for you, but it will allow you to keep a much closer eye on how much and how often he eats.

While training your dog to eat from his bowl can be a little challenging, it is a great exercise in discipline for both of you. It also gives you time to spend working on some of the more basic commands such as ‘sit’, ‘stay’, and ‘come’. It will also reduce the risk of your dog being injured if he has a habit of running in a rush to get to his food.

Defining Tasks

The basic idea is to teach your pup that the only place he should be eating from is his bowl and nowhere else. At the same time, you will be teaching him not to rush towards his food dish and that there are specific times when his food will be put in front of him. This is one of the more important general tasks you can teach your dog and should be done at the same time as he is being weaned, if possible, or as soon after as possible.

In reality, you can teach any age dog to eat from a bowl, but the sooner you get started the easier the training sessions are likely to go.  You may want to choose and use a command word or phrase to help with the training such as "Come eat!" or "It's dinner time!". No matter what you choose, be sure to stick to the same command each time and always place his food dish in the same place each time to help avoid confusion.

Getting Started

Getting started is relatively simple, you won't need much to train your dog as eating is a natural process and no matter what, your dog will eventually eat when he gets hungry enough. However, like most types of training, there are a few things you will need in order for the training to be successful.  These include:

  • A hungry dog: You cannot teach your dog to eat from his bowl unless he is hungry.
  • His favorite food: This is not a good time to try an unfamiliar food.
  • A feeding station: Supply a bowl specifically for your dog and choose a spot to place it for each feeding.
  • Time: no training happens overnight, you need to have plenty of time for this process.
  • Patience: Like time, you need to be patient with your pup or you may discourage him rather than getting him to eat from his bowl.
  • Praise: Always be ready with plenty of praise when he gets things right.

The Full Bowl Method

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Step
1
Dish it out
Start by placing an appropriate amount of food in your pup's food dish.
Step
2
Call him to the table
Bring your dog into the room where you plan to feed him and stand there with his bowl in your hands.
Step
3
Sit first
Have him sit and then slowly lower the food bowl in front of his face until it is on the ground.
Step
4
Work on those manners
If he tries to move from the sitting position or goes for the food. Raise the bowl and make him sit again. Keep at this until he remains in the sitting position while you place the bowl on the ground.
Step
5
Dig in!
Give him your chosen command such as "Time to eat!" or " Chow down!" or anything else you choose to use. Let him enjoy his food and repeat this process until he eats every time you put his bowl down.
Recommend training method?

The Separate Meal Time Method

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Step
1
Dinner reservation
Plan your dog's meal times separate from your own.
Step
2
Choose a time and cue
Create a time for him to eat and a specific feeding command.
Step
3
Serve the meal
Call your dog into the room where you plan to feed him, have him sit, and place a bowl of food in front of him.
Step
4
Wait for it...
Make him remain in the seating position until you give him the command to eat.
Step
5
Doggie bag
If for any reason he chooses not to eat, after 5 minutes be sure to pick up the bowl.
Step
6
Try again
In 12 hours try this again, chances are good he will be hungry enough to eat.
Step
7
Repeat
Keep repeating this until he eats when you put his bowl down. Be patient, it won't take long.
Recommend training method?

The New Bowl Method

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Step
1
Fresh start
Start by purchasing your dog a new bowl if he has been avoiding eating out of the one you already have.
Step
2
Choose wisely
The current bowl may frighten him, or if it is a metal bowl it might slip all over the place when he is trying to eat. Also, try smaller bowl as a larger one might overwhelm him. You can always move up to a bigger bowl when he is ready.
Step
3
The right spot
Find a quiet spot for him to eat so that he can eat his dinner in peace and quiet.
Step
4
Jazz it up
Try pouring a little chicken broth or stock in the bowl to encourage him to eat from the bowl and give him lots of praise when he decides to go ahead and eat.
Step
5
Manage mealtime
Keep food availability to a minimum, say for around 20 minutes before picking up the bowl. Keep trying until he is ready to eat the minute you put the bowl down.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Lucky
Labrador Retriever
8 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Lucky
Labrador Retriever
8 Months

My dog keeps barking at my Chihuahua to eat from his bowl. How do I get him to stop? Should I feed them separately?

And Lucky pretends to bark at strangers just to get ny Chihuahua to climb out of her hiding spot, since she hides from people most of the day anyways. After she gets out, he jumps all over her, and she runs back. And he will either demand bark or cry at her, or continue to pretend to bark at strangers.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
115 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kien, When you are there to supervise, feed the dogs and when Lucky begins to bark at your chihuahua get between your chihuahua and Lucky, firmly tell Lucky "Out" and point to where you want him to go, which should be just outside of the room, and then walk toward Lucky, blocking him from getting past you, until he backs up to the location where you told him to go. Once he is there block him from getting back. When he has stopped trying to get past you, then return to your Chihuahua and repeat walking Lucky out of the room if he follows you back. Repeat this as many times as needed. Be firm and calm while you do this so that Lucky does not think that is it a gave. Imagine yourself as a calm but stern drill sergeant or a brick wall while doing this. At first Lucky will probably act crazy and try to get past you but remain consistent. Over time he will learn that you mean business and he needs to leave your other dog alone. For the barking, teach Lucky the "Quiet" command by following the "Quiet" method from the article that I have linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark When he starts to bark, tell him "Quiet". Reward him when he obeys and whenever he looks out the window and remains quiet, before he barks, even if you know that there is nothing outside. You want to associate looking out the window with being quiet so that he is more motivated to be quiet than try to antagonize your older dog. When he does bark, once you know that he understands the "Quiet' command, then you can correct him for the barking. When he is bothering your older dog while she is hiding, do the same thing that I mentioned doing above, and get between him and her, tell him "Out", and walk toward him until he leaves the room or part of the room where she is. By doing this, you are establishing boundaries for him rather than expecting your older dog to, and communicating to him that you are in charge and want the older dog left alone. This is a firm but gentle way to communicate this, and most dogs understand body language very well. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Lucky
Labrador Retriever
7 Months
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Question
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Lucky
Labrador Retriever
7 Months

My dog keeps pooping inside but not outside. He does pee outside, but not poop often. Usually he would just lay down, or chew some cicadas, etc...
He does this after giving up on sniffing for a spot.

How do I make him go more quickly?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
115 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kien, Check out the Wag! article that I have linked below and follow the "Crate Training" method. Since your puppy is older he can go four hours between potty trips though, but only give him two hours of supervised free time after he goes potty outside. If he pees outside, but has not pooped yet during a time when you know he typically needs to, like in the morning after eating, then put him back in his crate for thirty minutes and then try taking him back outside after the thirty-minutes. Also, use a potty encouraging spray like "Go Here", "Training Spray", or "Hurry Spray". If he is still struggling with accidents, then get even more strict for a time and attach him to yourself with a six or eight foot leash whenever he is free in the house between crate training times so that he cannot sneak off to poop and so that you can spot his signals for needing to go potty. He needs the habit of pooping inside broken by giving him a lot of supervision of confinement until he is trained to only poop outside. The accidents that you prevent, the quicker and more solid his potty training will be. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Lucky
Labrador Retriever
7 Months
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Question
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Lucky
Labrador Retriever
7 Months

There are so many challenges:

My puppy keeps jumping on us whenever we get home and open the door. He runs to the door and jumps on us, and bites our hands and clothes and such. I've tried asking him to sit and then giving him a treat when he does this, but often he would try to jump up and snatch the treat out of my hand

He also jumps on us when we have meals, and refuses to eat his food. He sniffs his bowl and then sits next to us, occasionally jumping on us, trying to sniff out our food.

Since he won't eat his food, very frequently are we forced to put treats or scraps into his bowl to get him to eat.

He jumps up, then snatches the food out of our hand (like a chip or a piece of meat...)

When he is outside in our playpen, when we put him in the playpen, he starts barking for attention, then quiets down. He then demand barks (or cries) at squirrels, neighbors in their yard, other dogs, and us, if we are present or when we get home.

When my dog gets loose, he just takes off. He won't listen, won't pay attention, nothing. And he's been doing this quite frequently. I would like to know ow to train him to at least not take off on me when I'm changing his leash.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
115 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kien, Check out the article that I have linked below and use a combination of the "Step Toward" method and the "Leash" method. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump When you step toward him don't be afraid to throw him off balance and bump into him a bit. You are claiming that space in front of you and showing him with your body language that he needs to be respectful. When he is being respectful and calm, then you can give him attention or a treat, but if he jumps again repeat stepping into him. When guests are over use the leash method if the guest cannot step toward him firmly enough. For thr begging, teach him a "Place" command or tether him to something secure in the other room while you eat. When he is being calm reward him with a dog treat, but not human food. When he barks tell him "Ah Ah" and correct him with a Pet Corrector, which is a small pressurized air canister that you blow a little puff of air toward his side with. Do not do it in his face though. Feed him after you have finished eating so that his only option is to eat his food. If he does not eat it, then take it up at the end of the night and don't feed him anything else unless he has a medical condition that makes that dangerous. He is likely not eating his food because he knows he will get something else and he does not want to fill up on his own food. Let him go hungry if he won't eat and feed him extra the next morning. After a few days he should figure it out. It's important to feed him his dinner after you finish eating so that he will not be distracted by human food though, and to make him stay in the other room while you eat. If he still will not eat, then try switching his food to another brand in addition to the above training tips. Check out dogfoodadvisor.com to find a high quality food in your budget. For the jumping up for food, working on the other things should help with respect, but also teach him the "Leave It" command and practice that with human food after he can do it with treats. Never give him the food he is supposed to be leaving, instead reward him with a different treat so that he will learn to truly leave something alone and not simply wait for it. Check out this article below and follow the "Leave It" method from that article. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite For the outside barking use the pet Corrector and "Ah-Ah". I would also suggest teaching him a "Quiet" command and telling him "Quiet" when he barks and then correcting his barking when he is disobedient to help him understand why he is being corrected and what to do correctly instead. When you put him in the pen and he is quiet on his own, or stays quiet after being told "Quiet", then go over to the pen and toss a couple of treats to him to encourage him to be quiet more often. Reward the behavior, aka being quiet, that you want him to do so that he will do it more often. Use the "Quiet" method from the article that I have attached below to teach him what "Quiet" means. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Teach Lucky a "Come" command and practice it on a long leash around distractions like squirrels, people, and dogs until he will come willingly each time without having to be reeled in. To do this, follow the "Reel In" method from the article that I have linked below. Purchase a long thirty foot leash for this and practice in a safely enclosed area at first, until he will obey well most of the time, then add more distractions. Be careful not to let him pull you over with his size. Call him from a closer distance at first if he is likely to bolt. Do not use a retractable leash for this. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall In general, Lucky would benefit from an obedience class, but look for one that focuses on real world commands and training to help your dog learn to listen at home, not just treat training, although treats are good tools to include. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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