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How to Slow Down Your Chow Hound

We’re always talking about ways to eat more mindfully around here — you know, offering tips like using this hunger fullness scale, or trying our five-minute chocolate meditation — but those tips don’t exactly work when it comes to, say, your hungry hound or ravenous retriever. I mean, my Lab mix, Rudi, gets a cup and a half of food, plus a handful of carrots, all covered in water, and she can still inhale the whole thing in well under a minute from her regular food bowl. And treats? I don’t know that she even actually chews them.
So, since training a dog to savor each bite of kibble is not exactly within my wheelhouse, I’ve been checking out a couple of new items offered by Outward Hound, and I’m pretty excited to share how it’s gone!

treat toy

Hollie didn’t quite get the Treat Triad figured out … but she was hot on Rudi’s heels as Rudi knocked the treats out and about!

Slow Feeders at Dinnertime

Are you familiar with slow feeders? They. Are. Great. As you likely gleaned from the name “slow feeder,” they, you know, make the dog eat more slowly. And there are good reasons to try to slow your pup’s chow time down — scarfing down her food can lead to gas, upset stomach, and, in really serious cases, bloat (which is far different than what you experience when you, say, eat too much ice cream — bloat is a potentially life-threatening condition for certain types of dogs).
Anyway, the Outward Hound 3in1 Up Feeder not only has ridges in the bowl, making your dog work to get each bite out, but the bowl also spins to increase the challenge. Plus, the feeder can be adjusted to three different heights, so it’s good for dogs of any size, and the bowl is removable and dishwasher safe.
But you want to hear about how it actually worked, right? The answer is: AWESOMELY. It now takes both dogs at least four times longer to finish her food, and I love that it gives their minds a workout while they eat.

Tackling Treat Time

So, what about treats, you ask? Are the dogs still gobbling them up without so much as a single chew? Well, I can’t slow down their swallowing, but I can make ’em work for it a little. There are loads of food and treat puzzles out there — some are really simple, some are fairly complex (even within the same brand).
I will be honest that the Treat Triad falls somewhat into the latter category, at least for my dogs, but with a bit of practice and guidance (and, you know, treats that smell really, really good), it’s doable, at least for the food-motivated pup. Honest. Just ask Rudi. (Hollie … well, she prefers to just wait until Rudi unearths a treat, then jump in and snag a morsel from under her. We all have our talents, right?)
Now, you don’t necessarily need to buy a shiny new bowl or puzzle if you don’t want to (although, I mean, it is really fun to watch them figure it out!) — you can pour a bit of kibble or some treats into a cereal box and cover it with a towel, or cut a few holes in a plastic soda bottle and watch them roll or shake the bits out. However, regardless of what you do, make certain you supervise your pooch with her food puzzle or slow feeder — dogs can get frustrated and just start chewing on the puzzle itself, which can be dangerous!
Have you ever tried a slow feeder or food puzzle with your pups? How did it go? Did they figure it out quickly or did it take a bit of time? —Kristen

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