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My seven month-old puppy eats way too fast, he doesn't choke or anything like that, but I feel that he's not enjoying and obviously not even chewing his food, he can go through his plate (one cup four times a day for a total of 4 cups) of Alpo dog food in 10 seconds or less (haven't really timed it, but it's way too fast.)

He's fed strictly at the same time every day four times a day and he'll do that fast eating routine 99% of the time like there's no tomorrow.

While looking for tips on this I stumbled upon a WikiHow on a couple of tips such as turning over the plate, giving him food in multiple plates, doggy toy so he works more to get the food out of it, etc.

My question:

What is a proven approach to help a dog eat slower? While I do understand that he's a puppy and most puppies do this, I have a 3 year old dog who eats at a super normal rate, a 2 year old that eats a bit fast and this guy who is seven months and eats like he's getting a price if he finishes faster than everyone; so I'm looking for an answer with someone that's tried something with success with a specific approach.

He will usually wait for the other dogs to finish their plate and go see if there was some left over (there isn't any leftover 100% of the time but he doesn't mind checking always).

I feel that even my 2 year old dog should eat slower if possible, and the reason I mention this is because even if the answer might be "wait it out" I'd still like to know how to help my 2 year old female dog with the similar issue but at a bit slower rate than my seven month dog in question here as I'm assuming the technique will work in both scenarios.

  • I've heard of one dog owner who, on dry days, simply chucks the dog's dry food into the garden. It not only slows the dog down but also provides him with stimulation for a while, as he tries to locate every morsel of food in the grass. – ThomasH Feb 5 '14 at 0:32
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Elaborating on my answer from How can I stop my cat from eating too fast and throwing up? :

I adopted a dog who ate fast (the way he was raised and Cushing's Disease).

The key is to prevent easy access to his food bowl / trough. Obstacles help to slow down eating (and encourage critical thinking!).

I stuffed his food in a Kong, wet it a little and froze it. Gave it to him mildly thawed and he had to chew his way through it. Stuffing a Kong (and cleaning it without a good bottle brush) was a pain in the ass to do every day, so this was occasional.

Another alternative was to hand-feed him. My dog was so food-oriented, he could catch any nugget thrown at his face (he was a dachshund too, which was extra interesting to see). I'd take his serving of dry food and toss it at him, one nugget at a time. Exercise, skill training and eating all in one. This doesn't work as well with wet food.

With wet food and for times when I had no patience, I tried a different tactic with some success. I took a round food bowl, put the food in, then placed a heavy round object in the middle of the bowl. The object I used was a very heavy shotput, which was round enough for the dog to push around, heavy enough that it couldn't be pushed out of the bowl, not immobile enough to trap his tongue, and sized so the dog had actual access to some of the food, but not all of the food, at any given time. This obstruction created a physical barrier to speed-eating.

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There are dog bowls designed for slower eating available in most pet stores. They work by having an irregular design that makes it more difficult to get at food.

Slow feed dog bowl

Also, try wetting the food; it will go down easier.

  • I have tried so many things to get my dog to slow down eating and the only thing that has worked is this bowl. I found mine at a local store so I don't know about the website at all. – gloomy.penguin Nov 7 '13 at 23:40
  • For my lab, adding two or three tennis balls to the bowl slows him way down. He still hasn't figured out a year later that he could simply remove the toys and then gobble -- he eats around each one, and only removes them to play with when he's finished. – Kathy Oct 6 '14 at 18:48
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It's quite normal for some dogs to scoff their food without chewing. If he is not gagging then it's a good indicator it's ok.

He is hungry and growing. The presence of other dogs would also be an incentive to make him scoff his food more quickly.

There are a few suggestions:

A good way to get a dog to eat more and more quickly is to feed the dog in the presence of another dog. So the reverse can also work.

Your puppy, is most likely, being fed more frequently than your older dogs. I would suggest putting him in a place away from the other dogs when feeding him. Either feed him in the kitchen where you are, with the other dogs locked outside. Or the other way around. Preferably where he cannot see the other dogs while he is eating.

Another thing is to provide some suitably sized raw meaty bones. This will help keep him occupied and alleviate his need to scoff, as he will have the sensation of chewing and tasting for a prolonged period. The issue with this is, he may need to be separated from the other dogs, as many fights can break out with unsupervised bones. Or you can feed your other dogs larger bones, but it can still become a territorial battle and I suggest supervising this and collecting unfinished bones from the garden.

The other thing you can do is feed him more frequently (though four feeds is ideal) and/or increase his food. His weight gain may be looking healthy, but he may genuinely be hungry and require more food. It's important to incrementally increase a puppy's total daily food allowance as he grows.

If you want to increase the amount of frequency of feeding, you can create a couple of treat meal times, where the food is not presented in the same way as his usual pattern. Give him something with high protein and fat, like a fatty bony off-cut of meat. That is a suitable size that he can crunch it all up and eat it all. Brisket bones can be really good for this. While recommending some fatty treats for a rapidly growing puppy, it is not something I'd routinely recommend for an adult dog.

  • Man, the internet is going to be 50/50 over scoff vs. scarf (it's regional). You might be better doing a global replace with "chow" or "gobble". – JoshDM Nov 6 '13 at 15:23
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We did not use a bowl for dry food when our older dog was our only dog. When it was time for food we simply threw the dry food on the floor, so that the food spread out quite a bit. Wet food needs a bowl, naturally, but we did not give him much of that. Dry pellets don't make a mess, and you can guess that none of the pellets was ever left uneaten.

For the youngest dog to eat fastest is natural. He is no match for the older dogs, inferior in status, so if he has anything left when the other dogs are finished it might mean the older dogs could simply rob the food off the slow youngling. He has to be eating quick to get his full share.

Now, with two dogs eating at the same time, we don't do this anymore indoors, it does not work for two dogs in the small area of kitchen floor, not even in the living room. But during weekends at our 2nd home we occasionally throw the food out on the yard or lawn. This works because the older dog is keen on using his nose so his food gets thrown farther away and spread out a lot, while the younger dog is not so interested and his food we simply drop on the ground under his nose. Older dog keeps on sniffing around for every last bit of food, younger dog just lies down after eating his own part.

At home, indoors, we have these special bowls which have a clump in the middle. The kind that Nakiki350 already mentioned. The more in a hurry a dog is, the longer it takes to eat. A calm dog eats faster from these bowls (pic below).

food bowl with a clump

  • curiously why does a calm dog eat faster from these bowls. ps very beautiful kitten +1 for the pic alone! – Yvette Colomb Dec 3 '13 at 10:21
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    @Skippy - Oh, in a hurry the dog just keeps the food pellets circling around the center clump. A calm dog has better technique to trap the pellets against the sides to get to eat them. Observations from only two dogs, I'm afraid it might not fit to dogs generally. Seems logical though :) – Esa Paulasto Dec 3 '13 at 15:00
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For my dog we spread the food across the floor, so she has to run around and eat each pebble one by one. It's easy for us with the downside being doggy-tongue all over the carpet.

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