Jill Haffley is a certified dog trainer with over 20 years of experience in the Colorado Springs area. Her series on Dog Trainer Q&A answers the most common questions she’s been asked.
Dear Jill the Dog Trainer,
I have a dog who attacks her food so fast I’m worried about her. How do I get her to slow down?
This is a hard question to answer because I don’t really know the dynamic behind the fast eating. Ideally, I would want to observe the behavior so I can see what’s going on prior to the feeding and how it is being handled. That being said, here is my response:
First of all, dogs who eat too fast can actually really be endangering their lives. If they have a habit of fast eating, they could flip their stomachs. This is the second most common killer of dogs and is more prevalent in males than females. Therefore, it is critical to teach your dog to slow down.
The easiest way to do this is to buy a “slow feeder” bowl. Here’s an example of a slow feeder bowl:
In this type of bowl, there are things that stick up inside the bowl so your dog has to fish her nose around the obstacles to get to her food.
My yellow Lab didn’t eat fast, but she did have surgery for laryngeal paralysis (lar par). They had to go in through her larynx to be able to help her so her throat didn’t suddenly become paralyzed in a closed position. Had this happened, she would’ve suffocated. Once the surgery was over, she had to re-learn how to eat and drink. In her case, I hand fed her for a while until she got the idea and then I used a slow feeder bowl and it worked like a charm.
Another dog I had (who was the worst puppy I ever had, but one of the best dogs) ate so fast that I just spread her food around on the floor and she had to go from piece to piece to get to it. She still ate pretty fast, but not nearly as fast as she had been eating. It taught her to slow down and I was able to put her food back into a bowl for her. This method took quite a bit more time than then other methods above.
You may want to talk to your vet to determine the recommended amount of food your dog should be eating to rule out any medical conditions and to make sure your dog isn’t just over hungry. It’s possible they came from a large litter and had to eat fast or get nothing, so it is up to you create a new habit for your pet.
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