Mealtime Chaos? Here's How to Handle Multiple Dogs During Mealtime
There’s nothing purer than a dog’s love. It is no wonder many of us want to share our lives with multiple dogs. However, owning and carrying for multiple dogs can be tricky. You need to establish a pecking order, and many dog owners struggle to keep order among their dogs during mealtime. If you’re familiar with the barking or fighting that happens during mealtime, you’re in the right place. Here's how to handle multiple dogs during mealtime.
Why do dogs fight during mealtime?
Before we go into detail and tips on maintaining order among multiple pets during mealtime, we need to understand why problems occur. Some dogs are naturally dominant. In the wild, dominant dogs would eat first, which means they got the best and most nutritious parts of the meal. Dogs that are not as dominant will pick up scraps, so they have to fight for the precious resource to survive.
With so much tension and anxiety, it is no wonder problems happen. Despite thousands of years of domestication, the dog’s instincts can kick in, and the food will become an issue. However, if you follow these tips, you will establish rules, and mealtimes will become a piece of cake.
1. Feeding time schedule
The most important thing you have to do is create a feeding time schedule. Free-feeding with food constantly available is not really an option for households with multiple pets. Mind you, there are exceptions to this rule, and if that is the case, we doubt you will need these tips. However, in most cases, dogs will get into fights or steal each other’s food.
That’s where a feeding time schedule comes into play. You need to establish a routine your dogs will learn and adapt to. You will easily monitor your dogs during mealtime, and you can react if anything happens. Each dog (or cat) will be focused on their own bowl, which means they won’t try to interfere in other’s dog meals.
2. Safe eating space
Each furry member of your household should feel confident and happy about their food. That means you have to ensure each dog has a safe space for eating. That means that you cannot allow dogs to interfere in other dogs’ meals. For example, if one of your dogs doesn’t finish its meal, you should never let the other dog to finish their meal. Take the bowl away and store the rest of the food in the container or dog food bag. This will prevent resource guarding and potential conflicts among your dogs.
The first thing you can try is placing each bowl in different parts of the room. If that doesn’t work, you can physically separate your dogs and prevent them from even seeing the other dog during mealtime. By doing so, you will allow your dogs to feel calmer while eating. This is better for their health. More precisely, for their digestion. By eating too fast, dogs are at risk of stomach ache, and in worst cases, bloat.
Learning to behave during mealtime can be taught. You have to show your dogs what’s expected of them during mealtime. You will be their leader, and you have to show your dogs you will not tolerate their inappropriate behavior. Train with each of your dogs, both individually and in groups. Make them wait for their bowl until you give them the release command. This will teach the dog to control their instincts and view you as the provider of the most precious resource of all - food.
This is a process that might take time. Make sure you arm yourself with plenty of patience. If your dogs show no signs of improvement after a few weeks of training, you can get back to the tip Nr. 2 and separate them in different rooms. If that doesn’t work, proceed to tip Nr. 4.
4. Ask for professional help
Dog trainers and behaviorists are a great asset. Don’t be afraid to ask for professional help. If you’re not a professional dog trainer, you are not expected to know how to handle this complicated situation. Dog trainers and behaviorists are experienced in resolving such problems, and you should use them to help you.
The best thing you can do is look for a dog trainer specializing in positive training methods. You don’t want anyone who’s using punishment or fear as a training method. Those methods can backfire and result in shy or scared dogs, which is a recipe for a bite. Great dog trainers will help you resolve this quickly, but prepare to pay for their service. Remember that no matter what the price is, you will be very thankful for the mealtime peace the trainer provided you with.
Having a multiple-dog household is absolutely fantastic. However, some issues can become apparent, especially during mealtime. Luckily, there are different things dog owners can do to create peace and order and once again enjoy the bliss that comes with having multiple dogs at your home. Stick to these tips, and you will once again have perfectly behaved dogs.
World Dog Finder team