The road to a well mannered dog is not as long as you'd think! Teaching a few skills like stay and walking nicely can go a long way toward the end goal.
It's always a good idea to teach a few other simple manners as well. By using feeding time to train some manners with the food bowl, you can transfer these manners to other parts of life, like opening door in the house or the car, or cleaning up spills. Teaching your dog to have manners at the food bowl will help them learn patience and emotional control in other situations where you need it.
Teach a Solid Sit
The start to any type of manners is a solid foundation of skills. Make sure you've spent some time teaching your dog to 'sit' before you try to teach them to ignore distractions. Sit is a command you will rely on heavily throughout your dog's life, so don't shortchange your dog when teaching and training it. Spend a solid amount of time teaching a reliable sit. For details on how important sit is, visit our previous blog post on teaching greeting manners.
Reward the Sit with the Food Bowl Present
Don't take the power of the food bowl for granted. For most dogs, it's a very, VERY exciting thing. Take a moment to reinforce your dog for being calm and mannerly when the food bowl comes out. Reward with high value rewards to ensure the value of the food bowl is not as valuable as what they are actually getting.
Reward them Sitting with the Empty Bowl on the Ground
This is a really good place to start with a young dog or a dog who is particularly excited by the food. The last thing we want is for them to get a reward for making a mistake. If your dog is really over-excited by this exercise, make it easier for them by starting with their food bowl empty. Use liver or real meat to reward them for holding the sit as you place the empty food bowl.
Start to Build More Understanding with Harder Temptations
Start to put the food bowl down with a few kibbles in it. If the dog makes a mistake, be quick to pick the bowl back up again. If they hold the sit, be sure to reward them with something valuable right away. Make sure to reward them several times before releasing them to the bowl. For the dog, this exercise should be win-win!
With any skills we teach our dogs, they will rise to meet your expectations. If you allow them to lower criteria, the skill will fall off. Be sure to be consistent and keep high expectations so your dog will have manners for life!
Here are some demonstrations with Reggie!