It was becoming a dreaded thing in our house, feeding our dogs.
How could these sweet babies cause so much stress? Meal time! They were scoffing down their food, choking and in less than 30 seconds the food was gone!
I went to the internet to find a solution but there was nothing that would work. We never had such a problem and it started with Katherine's surgery.
Katherine gave us a terrible scare about a year and half ago. She woke up one morning paralyzed. We rushed her to the doctor then spinal surgery. We had to keep her weight down so instead of keeping a bowl of food down for them we had to measure out their food and feed them twice a day.
This led to scoffing the food as if they were starving.
A year later meal time was just awful so I had to do something to stop the stress.
I started with each dog and fed them one piece at a time for about 3 days. This took time but I had to do it. I made a chewing motion with my mouth and said "Chew". I did this over and over. Elizabeth having her meal.....
Bernadette having her meal.....
Katherine eating her meal... I would tell them "Chew" and make a chewing motion with my mouth.
I bought three small rugs to give them their own space. I would suggest a rug with some grip on the back. I put them on the rug and firmly said sit! Stay! I would not put the bowls down until they were all sitting. It was a bit hectic for the first week but they soon learned what was going on.
They were in a triangle, just enough space to not be in competition. It was helping but that was still not enough.
I put a stool in the middle of where they ate and I sat on the stool each meal. I started checking the time it took them to eat and doing so I realized that all I needed was a few minutes each day to sit on this stool.
One morning I sat on my stool with my cup of warm water and I gently sipped my water. It seemed to calm them down. One of the days I noticed that Elizabeth would tuck her tail when the washing machine would spin and she was a bit nervous. So before I fed them I turned off every thing that made noise, Washing machine, television, anything that made sound. I noticed a big change in how they were eating. I sat on my stool and made a chewing sound, sipped my warm water and they were calm and Chewing their food!
Then one morning they were starting to chew their food! That was when I realized I was possibly causing them to be nervous by fussing at them for eating too fast. I was frustrated and they felt my frustration which made the situation worse.
The next time I fed them I turned off anything that made noise. I made myself quiet and the only sound I made was a chewing sound and saying quietly, "Good girl Elizabeth for Chewing", Good Girl Katherine for chewing and so the same for Bernadette when they were chewing well. Just like ourselves when we sit down for a meal we need the television off and time to pay attention to our food and chew our food properly.
The noise in the house during their meal time had affected them. Now meal time has become a bit of a morning and evening meditation for me. I sit on my stool and slowly sip my cup of warm water and listen to them Chew.
We may think we do not have the time to stop everything to do this, but all we are giving up is 2 to three minutes twice a day and if we do not have this little time it is time to change something in our lives.
Possible this is a lesson for many other situations. I hope this article helps. Take care, Grandma Donna