Friday, June 29, 2007

group feeding

I feed my dogs together. Unless the adults have a recreational bone, and hence more time than I care to spend supervising, Thomas or I feed them all together, separate bowls but shared space. By shared space I need to make clear that they have plenty of room to wander around if they finish.
I fed Kayla and Skye in their crates until we got Celie and Gus. When I got Celie, Kim told me how she feeds her dogs. And I watched Cesar Milan demonstrate how he feeds on his DVD. I don't know if I would want to feed this way with that many dogs. Four is working, and that's with little sneak-thief Kayla who wolfs her portion down and then sees if she can snatch a bite from the others.
Honestly, I don't think Gus would have eaten this morning if he hadn't had competition. (Is this similar to us? We will eat even if not hungry when we see others enjoying food. Which is probably why I can't lose the extra 20-30 lbs. I've packed on since moving to FL. )
I can guess that some may view this as a problem but it has been working for these two months. There have been no fights because we watch over them and make sure they leave each other's meal alone until they are walking away from it. If they have a rec bone I put them in their crates. If I have no time to watch over them I put them in their crates.
It's been interesting. I can see how they eat and know what they prefer. Celie for instance is very particular. She likes to eat the muscle meat bits first, then the cottage cheese and last the organ meat. Gus-Gus eats his all together. Kayla eats everything as quickly as possible and is usually the first one finished. She is like this in her crate as well. Skye takes his time and when finished likes to lick his lips for a while and make sure he's got all the bits off his teeth.
My understanding is this enforces pack bonding and that Thomas and I are the alphas. The alpha decides who gets to eat. We make each dog sit before they get their meal. When one dog sits he gets fed and the others are kept back while he gets to eat. They soon realize they aren't getting theirs until they listen. Kayla has taken the longest to get this concept and at first had to be made to sit by us pushing her butt down. Now she is getting with the program and sits although still is usually the last one to do so.
I know this sounds involved, complicated, but it really only takes about 5 minutes.


StubbyDog said...

That is pretty much what I do right now also, except that I make them all sit before anyone gets fed. When their butts are down, I put the bowls down, and they must wait until I tell them it's OK to eat. They all eat very quickly, so I stand there to supervise (so that Leo doesn't allow Lizzie to steal his food) and they don't seem to question my authority.

Works for us...I don't think I'd try it with every pack, and when Lizzie was young she was fed separately in an xpen for a while. I have gotten lucky with some very good pack dynamics for right now though.

Jenn said...

We do this, too. Had to get on Zumi initially since she wanted to steal food or would take offense if some one finished and then walked by her, but now she's fine. I can even leave the room once everyone is eating, though usually I keep an eye on the crew, just in case.

The only time we really have a problem is when Bridger decides he's not eating and sits there guarding his bowl. Between the laser-like blue eyes and him making low growls, everyone gets kind of intimidated. I pick up the bowl, all is well. And, Bridger gets a dose of my blue eyes and growling, which takes care of him. Silly dog.

Léo said...

We're evolving our feeding practice to our dogs' personalities. Kayla has a habit of pacing and growling and nipping when she hears metal clank. We started getting all to sit while we are preparing their meal too. It takes both of us. At least it has for the first couple of times. I have already noticed that all are a bit calmer while I am mixing it up. I understand a little excitement but it was turning into aggression and that isn't allowed.