Friday, July 24, 2009

Tips For Mealtime Ritual

What is mealtime for your dog at home like?

Feeding your dog is the perfect time to work on the pack dynamic and reinforce positive behavior. Here are some tips from Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer, to make mealtime not only about providing sustenance, but also a time to help your dog become happier and more balanced.

Make your dog work - In a natural setting, animals must work for food. Wild dogs and other canines have to track their prey over long distances. Mimic this by taking a long walk with your dog just before mealtime. The physical activity will keep her in tune with her natural instincts.

Create a regular routine - Have your dog sit as you prepare the food. Make sure she maintains calm and submissive energy while she waits. You may find this regimen strict, but it will encourage your dog to maintain a balanced state.

Stay calm and assertive - Humans will sometimes talk and signal in a high energy manner before they feed their dog. The dog becomes excited based on the owner's energy which, if repeated every time the dog is fed, can create lasting behavior problems or make existing problems worse. By remaining calm before mealtime, you will help your dog do the same.

Don't reward negative behavior - Anxiety, territorial behavior, and aggression can all manifest when you feed your dog. The reoccurrence of these behaviors is almost guaranteed when you "reward" your dog by feeding her after she displays any of these habits. Be patient! Wait until your dog is in the balanced state you desire before you give her food.

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