Should I Pet My Dog or Puppy While They Are Eating?

by | May 6, 2024

You have a new puppy, and you are asking ‘Should I pet my dog or puppy while they are eating?’  It depends sometimes on what history you have with raising dogs previously. 

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When picking up your puppy from the breeder, if the breeder has the puppy’s well-being at heart you will be armed with a manual from the breeder outlining what your puppy is presently eating amongst other ‘housekeeping’ items to help you raise your new puppy.

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Of course, it is for your puppy’s health to your home to be raised on the same food that the breeder was feeding your puppy, and, if you prefer your puppy to eventually eat a different diet than the breeder, you will need to include your choice of food very gradually into your puppy’s diet.

If your puppy seems to have a quiet nature once home, this could be because your puppy is unsure how to adjust to this big change in his or her life.  After all, they have had their first few weeks of life being fed continuously by mum and in most cases having siblings to play and sleep with.

This could provide you with a false sense of security, and without realising it, you could approach your new puppy very quickly once you place their food on the floor and startle your puppy, as your puppy may not be sure what you are going to do, and suddenly guard their food, in case it is taken away from them.

You need to be aware that trust needs to be built between you and your puppy and consider the question ‘Should I pet my dog or puppy while they are eating?”

I would not recommend the above approach.  I would, as I am placing the food on the floor slowly and calmly stroke your puppy’s back and talk soothingly to them.  You may choose to stay with them the whole time they are eating so that they feel comfortable with this attention and closeness, or you may after a short time, calmly stand up and move away from your puppy.

Always use calm and slow movements.  As you slowly keep staying with your puppy while they are eating, their confidence in you will grow as they will realise that you are not going to take away their meal.  You may even begin to pet your puppy, their ears, their back, and as the puppy’s bond with you grows, you will find that your puppy will not regard you as a threat and will comfortably keep eating their meal with you at their side.

Bringing home an older dog will need a completely different approach from you.  If you know your new dog’s history around mealtime you will be armed with how to deliver their meals safely.

If you do not know your new dog’s history, then I would first teach my dog how to sit with a stay throughout the day, then at mealtime ask for this exercise to be performed.  This would allow you then to ask for the sit/stay place the meal on the floor, then release the dog with a release word to go and eat their meal.  Once the meal is eaten, I would call the dog away from the bowl to go outside into the yard for a toilet break or sniff around, whilst you pick up the empty bowl from the floor.

If your dog does not perform the sit/stay cue as easily as you would like, simply place your dog on a leash in the sit position and have a household member place the food on the floor calmly a short distance from your new dog.  Your dog can then be released with your release word whilst still on leash and go and eat their meal with you remaining at the end of the leash.   Once finished call your dog to you and take them outside on the leash to have a sniff or wander around.  You can then safely remove the leash whilst your family member inside picks up the food dish from the floor.

You now have suggestions to your question ‘Should I pet my dog or puppy while they are eating?’

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Until next time…

With Love, Success and Inspiration,

Robin Oliver

www.robinoliveronline.com/blog

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With Love, Success and Inspiration,

Robin Oliver

Robin Oliver Pet Dog Training
Professional Dog Trainer

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