Bin the bowl

Instead Of Adding Value To A Bowl, Why Not Increase The Value In The Relationship Between You And Your Dog? 

Dogs are naturally contrafreeloaders*, which means that if we give our dogs the choice between being handed for the food and working for it, they will pick working for it! When we ditch the food bowl, they earn their food by making good choices throughout the day. Your dog will start to make better choices in life as well as increase the relationship between you and your dog. Their optimism will grow, and their ability to switch from high arousal to calm behaviours will be strengthened.    

What Do We Want To Achieve?

1. Feed The Dog Without The Use Of A Dog Bowl

2. Build Up Our Relationship With Our Dog

3. Increase Optimism 

4. Become The Centre Of Fun For Your Dog!

*strangely, the only animal that dont display contrafreeloading are domesticated cats, who prefer to be served their food. Who would have guessed that! 

Get Started

Step 1: 

With some food in your hand, get your dog following it around and targeting it. Allow them to try and get it. Keep the game fun and let them win often. 

Step 2:

Go bowling with your dog, throw the food across the room so they chase it in all directions, keep them on their toes, mix it up. 

Step 3:

Throw a piece of food but restrain them so they cant get it straight away, hold them for a brief second then send them after it. 

Out And About

While out and about you can feed your dog for their good choices! How cool is that! Your dog will think it is supercool that they get some of their dinner while on their walk! 

Does your dog orient back to you frequently? Or would you like them to do it more? Well, when they come back and 'check in', simply hand them some of their food and they will stay a lot closer and orient a lot more. 

You can also use their food for training. Do you want loose leash walking? Or would you like a solid recall? Well you can now train all of these without having to worry that your dog is eating to many treats! 

Do You Feed Raw? 

Just because your dogs food isn't already processed and cut into tiny treat sized pieces doesn't mean you can't bin the bowl! Try some of these:

• Treat dispenser

• Squeeze tube

• Chunks of raw cut into smaller pieces

• Scoop minced raw into a small spoon and feed from that

• Roll into little meatballs (or use a mould) and refreeze


A fantastic way to keep your dog occupied, calm and content is to feed them a chew. There are various different chews available but here are just some of the many you can give your dog:

Paddy whacks (dehydrated or raw)

Fish skin braids / knots (cubes and strips are fab for teeth cleaning but won’t last long)

Appropriately sized RAW bones (chicken / duck / turkey / lamb necks, chicken / duck / turkey wings, poultry carcasses, ribs)

Bull pizzles (aka Bully sticks), available in various lengths, girths and styles including braided!

Plain / stuffed hooves

Puffed Jerky

Antlers (choose your source / style / size carefully though as they can chip teeth)

Ears (raw or dehydrated rabbit / lamb / cow / pig)

Natutripe pressed tripe bones

Stuffed Toys

These promote calm and are great for bringing arousal levels back down, whether that is after a ‘reactivity episode’ when out walking in the park; or after being at an agility training session.


They are also a great way to add value to boundary games and for those occasions when you have a lot going on around the house. For example, you have tradesmen: pop the dog on a boundary and give them a stuffed toy and allow them to chill.


There are a few simple steps you should follow when introducing stuffed toys to your dog.


1. Start by allowing your dog to eat out of an open ended hoof (or something similar) – this is simple and your dog will easily succeed!


2. Then make it a little bit more challenging by freezing slightly (remember the longer you freeze, the more challenging it becomes).


3. Once your dog has mastered the above with progressive levels of difficulty, start on something which has a more complicated shape to interact with. But, whilst making the shape harder, you should make the filling easier so that the dog isn’t worked too hard.


4. Now you are getting amazing results! Gradually up the challenge by using different fillings or start to freeze for a little longer each time. By following these simple steps you are teaching your dog how to successfully finish eating those long lasting rewards. This will build up your dog’s tolerance to frustration and ensure they don’t give up.


AWESOME! You will find many forms of stuffed toys in the shops and on the internet so find something that works for you and your dog.


Kongs are a popular brand but there are other options including mats where you can spread your dog’s favourite treat over the surface and give them a long lasting game where they have to lick every last bit of food out with their tongue (remember repetitive licking is also very soothing for your dog).


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