One of the troubles of having multiple dogs is feeding time. Once the food hits the bowl, you immediately hear the sound of paws and claws rushing towards the source. But, it’s not the eating that usually concerns the owner- it’s what happens around the dinner bowl. Fights, overeating, and even intimidation may all take place during this favored moment of a dog’s day.
Unfortunately, this means that there are various scenarios that can take place when it comes to feeding two or more dogs at the same time. One dog may decide that they want all the food to himself, finishing their bowl and diving in for seconds out of another’s bowl. Another problem is that one dog may decide that all the food should be his- through aggression or force, causing fear and intimidation amongst his companions. Owners would want their dogs to just get along, sharing and enjoying their own food without concern for the other but that isn’t always the case.
Separate Meal Times
One of the best options is to separate your dogs. Because dogs can become physical during the eating process (snarling or biting the other), separating them may be necessary to provide a safe environment for everyone. After all, one bowl and two dogs can become a problem when everyone is hungry.
This doesn’t mean you need multiple food bowls or territory. In fact, it can be beneficial to feed every dog from the same bowl. The first problem that arises is deciding who to feed first. Here, there is the concern about “dominance” theories, but it really shouldn’t affect your decision on who eats first. Instead, you may think about your older dogs first (age before youth). You can also go so far as letting them share their feeding times. Alternating feeding times (One feeds first on Monday, but second on Tuesday) will give each of your dogs a fair share of the feeding process.
Feeding the dogs is another thing entirely. Because there may be trouble if one dog spots something tasty that they want, they will likely invade and take over the meal. With this in mind, it is often important to separate the dogs entirely while they are eating. Only one food source should be available to your dogs to enforce eating habits and training. Select a single room (kitchen or other selected room) where your dogs will eat. When it comes time for one dog to eat, keep them in that room until they are done eating. Then it will be time for the other dogs to eat. This will prevent any trouble at the food bowl.
Another handy trick that you can take advantage of is training. Dogs know that they will get something for nothing if you give it to them unconditionally (the exemption is love). So, before you feed them, you may include commands that designate their name and what they are supposed to do before you fill their bellies. This gives the added advantage of a distraction-free environment. Your other dogs won’t be yipping and eager to interfere in the process. For a multiple-dog owner, this can be an event that will provide the exact atmosphere you need to properly train each dog. You can also use this time to separate who gets to eat when. This will enforce who eats first without causing trouble amongst your dogs.
After feeding poses another problem for the dog owner. A dog that doesn’t eat all of their food will leave some leftovers. Perhaps they may want to come back for more later or they just weren’t as hungry today. Equal portions are an important part of feeding. You don’t want other dogs happening upon some extras in the food bowl when it isn’t their turn to eat. This can lead to overeating or even secondary fights when one discovers that the other is eating their leftovers. When it isn’t feeding time, be sure you remove the food and the bowl from their access. This is a sign to designate that feeding time is over. It will help them develop a sense of feeding time and prevent other problems in the future.
Eating is a big part of a dog’s life (hopefully it isn’t your shoes). Handling this fact amongst multiple dogs presents another challenge for dog owners. But with care and patience, you can assure that each of your dogs is fairly treated and gets their share of food each day.