When they were both small and we were teaching house rules and house breaking, Zozo and MJ ate in their crates. It afforded them a contained place for their splashing (they’re both super-messy eaters, which happens to be a proud family trait), and a required quiet-time after meals for digestion. During the quiet-time, James and I usually inhaled our own meals.
Now that they’re older, the “rules” of mealtime haven’t changed, but the locations have. We separate the dogs when they eat. Zozo dines in the kitchen, the privilege of the first born furbaby. He sits nicely at his place mat, waiting for his bowls to be filled and to be released to eat (“take it”). He then daintily selects one kibble pellet at a time until his bowl is empty and his water is sloshed all over the kitchen floor.
The little girl eats in her room. She has to go to her crate and wait to be released for food, after which we gate her in. She snarfs down her meal like someone will take it away before she’s finished. And then she looks expectantly for more. Hence the separation: if we leave her room open, she’ll try to steal some of Doodle’s food, and a fight ensues.
To be very clear, our dogs never go hungry. If anything, they could stand to shave a pound or two off from snacks and treats and cookies and dog beer. Yes, dog beer is a thing. We tried it once in a BarkBox, and they liked it and… well that’s a post for another day.
But because MJ eats in such a rush, she’s plagued with burps and hiccups and stinky-poots. So we’ve spent some time investigating ways to slow her down.
We’ve put tennis balls in her food dish, forcing her to work around them. She snout-bumps the ball out of the dish or picks it up and shows off her “drop it” skills, then returns to devour the meal. Adorabull.
Real Simple magazine offered a discount code to try the Dog Games Slo-Bowl Feeder, from which we expected magical things. It’s colorful and light weight and fairly sturdy and dishwasher safe (score). The kibble bits spread in grooved channels, making the pups work to snag a bite.
When we first put this bowl down in front of her, MJ grumbled, “You gotta be kiddin’ me” and huffed in frustration. It took her 10 minutes to eat her meal. The second time we used it, she cleaned her plate in 8 minutes. Then 6, then 5….She figured out that if she hoovers the food, she doesn’t have to work to eat. That’s right, MJ discovered a life-hack and outsmarted this very cool food bowl. We’re back to blink-and-you’ve-missed-it-meals.
Unfortunately, the way we have the room set up means mealtime requires supervision because the Wobbler can get stuck in corners. That’s entirely our fault, but our pit-nacious girl doesn’t let that slow her down as she plays with her food. Or fights for it. I suppose that’s up to opinion.
MJ’s brain gets much-needed problem-solving exercise, she eats slower, and she’s less stinky. That is the trifecta of success!