The Almost-Magical Benefits of Hand Feeding Your Puppy
When you get a new puppy, you sometimes discover the little tyke is a wild child right from the start. He rarely rests and doesn't pay much attention to his humans. You know you need to connect with him if you want him to grow up to be a well-behaved dog. But how?
Try hand feeding to start building that bond. Make sure at least one meal comes straight from your hands each day. In time, you'll find your not-quite-adult wild child still has a big personality but also comes when called, stands still when asked, and checks in with you often. All thanks to hand feeding.
The Whys of Feeding By Hand
It's simple. The results can seem magical — and all you have to do is offer the food out of your hand, little by little. You'll soon see that your puppy pays more attention to you. Your puppy snuggles with you more. Your puppy is calmer and listens better. What's going on here?
Feeding by hand encourages bonding
Feeding by hand is like sharing a meal with your puppy. It helps build your connection with your doggo. A healthy bond is the foundation for everything you do with your pup, from day-to-day activities to the elusive coming-when-called-no-matter-what. Feeding by hand is a quick and easy way to kickstart a strong lifelong bond.
Feeding by hand promotes good habits
When it comes to their food, dogs are inherently protective. Puppies often guard their food because they grew up in a competitive environment. If a pup is insecure or feels that his food is threatened, he may become aggressive. He may even bite. Young children may not recognize your pup's signals. It is especially important to discourage such resource guarding and food aggression with children in the house.
Feeding your young puppy by hand is critical to teaching him impulse control and bite inhibition. It also prevents your furry friend from scarfing his food. It's an opportunity to practice good manners and focus. Want your food? Wait calmly, and the food comes sooner.
Feeding by hand demonstrates love
Feeding by hand lets your pup know you care about him and that helps him feel more secure and confident. If your canine companion is shy, it helps him learn that you are trustworthy and provide for his needs. This kind of feeding also teaches independent dogs that spending time with you is rewarding.
Tips for Hand Feeding Your Pup
Feeding by hand is simple: Grab a small amount of your dog's food and hand it to him. Along the way, you'll have the opportunity to teach, train, and socialize you pup. Remember, when he's hungry, he's much more motivated to pay attention and learn.
Regulate the speed
If your puppy takes the food a little too roughly, use an open palm to feed. You can also use lickable food to reduce chomping. Slow down the feeding any time your pup is a little too bitey. Pick up the pace when he takes the food nicely.
Maintain eye contact and soothe him
Between bites, stop and make eye contact with your puppy. This teaches him to look at you to earn stuff, which is a great life skill. At the same time, speak in a soothing voice and even ruffle his fur now and then with your other hand. All this teaches him that mealtime is a time you enjoy together.
Use feeding for training
As you and your doggo gain confidence with this activity, you can turn each meal into a training session. Every few bites, ask your pup to do something simple such as sitting on cue. Feed him when he gets it right.
Aim for once a day
If you're too busy to feed by hand at every meal, that's OK. Aim to feed at least one meal a day by hand. Then, serve the other meals in food toys so your pup gets mental exercise even when you can't hand feed.
Hand Feeding: It's What's for Dinner
Feeding by hand is one of the simplest ways to create a bond with your puppy.
Sharing meals this way strengthens your connection with your pooch. Your canine companion will also learn that it's OK for you to be holding his food. Of course, adult humans and children should remember to wash their hands before and after handling any food — their own or their pup's. As you feed your doggo by hand, you can teach him better manners (such as discouraging resource guarding) and even get in some bonus training. Plus, it's fun for both of you — so go get your puppy's food, and get started!