Managing feeding time with your kids and dog!

Managing feeding time with your kids and dog

Yep feeding time can get quite messy here!

 

Managing feeding time with your kids and dog can be an interesting task, trust me I know this first hand!

Anyone with young kids will know that feeding time can be quite messy, hectic and stressful at the best of times, then add a dog in the mix and it can really turn to chaos. From your dog stalking your kids, to stealing their food, licking them clean, your children not eating because they think it’s funny to feed the dog, food being thrown across the room, the list goes on. We’ve gone through it all in my household and with a very food obsessed Goldie, it is all still a work in progress. Along with all these challenges however, comes the BEST vacuum cleaner ever!! At home, I never have to clean those tiny scraps off the floor; I have Cooper and I thank him for that every day! And yes, that is a photo of Cooper licking every piece of rice off our floor boards (sorry for those germaphobes out there, but I think it’s great for the kids’ immune system).

Managing feeding time with your kids and dog

In today’s post, I will outline three tips we use in our house to try and manage some of this chaos. After all, your dog needs to learn that if your child drops a cooked chicken bone on the floor, that it is not theirs to eat!! Cooked chicken bones can be quite dangerous for dogs. And yes, again, unfortunately, this is something that has happened to us!! I might be a dog trainer, but my dog certainly isn’t perfect.

 

  • Create boundaries/ a place for your dog to be during meal time

Invisible or physical. This can be as simple as a baby gate to block them out of the kitchen/dining area. Putting your dog in another room. Putting a special mat or bed out for them to lie on. Or for us, we have created an invisible boundary. Personally, I think it’s important to separate your dog during meal time for their safety as things like cooked bones, corn cobs, and many others can be dangerous if your dog swallows them (image at bottom of article of unsafe foods for dogs).

In our house, we have a rule that Cooper (and his friends) must lie down about 2-3 meters back from where the kids are eating. Cooper now knows that he will be allowed to clean up at the end of the meal, but only on my command. I have trained him to stay there until the kids are finished eating, and then I say, “Ok Cooper, clean up!” For those of you who would love to try this, but your dog is a bit too excitable, start out by putting your dog on a lead so you have control each time they get up. Set your boundary, ours is the line where the floor boards and the carpet meet and make them stick to it. If you have them on the lead, every time they get up or try creeping forward, you can direct them back using positive reinforcement. Use treats (Cooper’s favourite’s are the Get WAG liver treat) to reward their good behaviour when they are lying behind the invisible line and relaxed.

The other alternative is to teach your dog the “on your mat/bed” command. It pretty much works the same as above… But it’s best to first teach them this command before introducing it as meal time. It will make it much smoother as teaching a new command without distractions around will be easier for your dog to focus. To do this create a nice comfy place for your dog to lie on, at a distance from where the kids will be eating, but where your dog can still see you. Make sure to have some delicious treats ready, call your dog over to their bed/mat, say the command “on your bed/mat” and once they are lying in their bed, you reward them with a treat. As mentioned above, practice this over and over before the kids are eating. With consistency and repetition, your dog should learn this one pretty fast. Once they get it, then give it a shot when the kids are having a meal at the table.

Please keep in mind that given  your dog will be cleaning the floor for you at the end, and you will be using treats to reward them for sitting away from the food, make sure to reduce their meal size that day so they do not gain weight.

Managing feeding time with your kids and dog

  • Train your kids

Teach your kids to always sit down and eat. No running around the house with food.

Teach them not to feed the dog. This can be a hard one depending on the age of your child. At around 6 months of age, both of my kids thought this was just hilarious. It’s the moment when the friendship between dog and baby really begins because the dog quickly learns your baby now equals food. But now that Harper is three, she understands that dogs can’t eat certain foods, it will upset their tummy or can be quite dangerous for them. So just explaining that to your kids can really help. Harper loves Cooper to pieces, so she would never do something if she knew it could hurt him. Paxton on the other hand (20 months) is still too young to understand this.

 

  • And if all else fails, put your dog outside

Sometimes it’s just not worth the risk.

Our biggest challenge with Cooper and our ‘invisible boundary’ is when we have people over. Cooper will sometimes take advantage of the fact that my attention is elsewhere and will test the boundaries and try to clean up before the kids are finished. And this is exactly the situation when he ate the chicken bone. I was busy cleaning up in the kitchen when we had family over for dinner, Paxton dropped a cooked chicken bone and Cooper literally pounced and inhaled it as it hit the floor. We were lucky, he was fine, he managed to pass it through. But always call your vet to check if something like that happens, cooked chicken bones can splinter on the way through and get stuck. I’ve learnt my lesson now and will often just put Cooper outside if we have a busy house. And if I do have to put him outside, I will give him a special long lasting treat whilst he is outside so he associates it as a good thing rather than as punishment.

You might be able to train your own kids, but you can’t train someone else’s, especially if they don’t live with dogs. So, if you’re hosting a mothers group or have a house full of kids eating, the temptation is too high, put your dog outside!

Even if it’s just you guys at home and your dog is being disobedient and not listening, put him outside. Set some rules and boundaries! It’s so important to help manage the madness.
Managing feeding time with your kids and dog

*Warning*

There are lots of foods your kids may eat, that are dangerous or toxic for dogs! So as amazing as it is that they are the best hoovers, please always make sure to pick up the dangerous foods and put them in the bin before letting your dog clean-up for you!

Managing feeding time with your kids and dog

Image found on the internet

Managing feeding time with your kids and dog

Image found on the internet

And lastly, as briefly mentioned above, please do your best to keep your dog a nice lean weight, it is so important for their health. Especially as they get older and especially for bigger dogs who are prone to arthritis, etc. So, if they do eat lots of the kids scraps during the day, please make sure to slightly reduce the quantity of food you give them for dinner.

 

Mel xox

 


NEVER MISS A COOPER AND KIDS POST



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