Is your dog a SNARFER? (Loosely translated, a food inhaling dog.)
We’d recently acquired a beautiful little Corgi. She would eat her food so quickly she sometimes had difficulty breathing, or, sometimes she hyperventilated, and, occasionally, she would even choke. This snarfing behavior led to vomiting, stomach upset, and other nerve wracking, ghastly things.
It’s not the first time I’ve seen it, I’ve had friends who’d discussed the issue and from my shelter experience I’ve seen many dogs exhibit this same eating issue. I’ve heard reasons and rationalizations for it. Everything from early pack behavior, to too many dogs, too little food………. I’m sure there is a reason, in fact I’m sure there are more than I’ve heard.
Frankly, whatever the reason, it wasn’t answering the problem of how to make it stop. I spent days, weeks, months, letting her take a bite, moving my foot between her and the bowl, letting her swallow, letting her take a bite……… Countless hours of petting and nurturing, and ultimately getting her maybe to slow down for one meal, only to be back to snarfing the next morning. Then one day, it dawned on me, or rather dinged on me.
I make our dogs’ food. Cook it right on the stove, nice and hot and fresh. One particular morning I was off in my timing and distracted by very hungry dogs at my feet. I scooped the food into the bowls, and without waiting for it to fully cool to room temperature, I placed the bowls on the floor for consumption.
Cowboy, my old seasoned veteran, looked at me inquiringly, and layed down to allow for more cooling time, while Ally, the aforementioned Corgi, practically dove head first into hers. I had my foot ready to pause her between bites, when she stopped, shook her head and well, stopped. Then she looked at me, looked at the bowl, dove in again, shook her head and stopped, again.
It took her a minute to realize something had changed, and then she did something interesting, smart girl that she is. Realizing the nose diving was not working, she daintily took a bite from the side of the bowl – remember how we were taught to eat soup, scooping from the side, not the middle?- that, my friends, was how she ate. One bite at a time, working her way from the cooler outside to the heart of the situation. Slowly and steadily, chewing and swallowing, one bite at a time.
Realizing heat was the trick, I gauged how hot the food in the pot was. The next day, after scooping a portion into her bowl, and before serving it, I popped it into the microwave for 45 seconds, then after testing, 10 seconds more. Yes, 55 seconds in the microwave was the perfect temperature to make her slow herself down and eat like she wasn’t brought up in a barn! After a few weeks, I tried the cold scoop again, to see if there was any change in her behavior, and sure enough, my nose diving, food snarfing dog re-appeared.
There’s no great training technique here, it was completely by accident that I found the solution – a solution that works for us. I just wanted to share it with you in case you’re having the same issue, and looking for something that makes feeding time a little less frightening for everyone. Mind you, the food is not piping hot, it’s just hot enough that it’s uncomfortable to have your finger in the middle. We are definitely not looking for tongue scalding!
If you feed dry food, I would suggest using a gravy, I think having a gravy cool down would work just fine, but try it out and see how it works for you. Microwaving hard bits might heat the centers and possibly cause burns, which is something we do not recommend. Definitely test the heat situation before giving it to your dog!
I hope it helps, and if you have any questions feel free to drop us a line at: www.dawgbiskits.com/contactus.html
Have a tail waggin’ day!