Because Alfie and Ralphie were adult dogs when adopted them, I didn't know how protective they might be regarding food at meal times. But after doing some research, and talking to dog owner friends, I decided to take a chance and feed them at the same time, but in different locations, in my small kitchen.
Alfie's bowl was placed in the southwest corner and his eyes faced south, while Ralphie's bowl was in the northeast corner, up against the oven and his eyes faced east. Although they were physically within six feet of each other, they could not “eye” each other when eating, or more realistically, devouring their food. There was never an issue between them when eating.
Their hard food was kept in the office in a hand made metal box purchased at a farm auction. Inside is a cup used to measure their portions. They both received the same amount. The routine we established is that when I headed into the office with their bowls in hand, Alfie would sit in the hallway just outside the office door. After I had filled both bowls, I would walk to him, show him one morsel and he would stick out his tongue (I taught him this). I would then drop the morsel and he would catch it. He became very good at catching the morsel. If, by chance, he missed it, he would find it on the floor, eat it and then return to the sitting position waiting for another one to catch.
Ralphie's routine was that once I had scooped the food into his bowl, he would quickly turn and walk over to the oven and sit by his food corner. After Alfie had his morsel, I would walk to Ralph and he also would stick out his tongue. Ralphie was not as good a catcher as Alfie. If Ralphie missed, and the morsel landed on the floor, Alfie was there to snatch it up. Ralphie would just sit by the oven waiting for a second chance.
I always placed Ralphie's bowl down first, as he was not as fast an eater as Alfie. Ralphie actually chewed, while I would describe Alfie as “inhaling” his food. As Alfie always finished eating first, he would watch Ralphie eating, and when Ralphie walked away from the bowl, Alfie rushed over to give Ralphie's bowl a thorough cleaning. Ralphie never reciprocated to Alfie's bowl.
Sometimes, I would add a challenge — primarily for them to utilize their genetic hunting instincts. For this, we went outside. After I had tied them to their separate areas in the back yard, I would throw their food morsels into the yard. But I always saved a few for them to eat out of my hand. I don't think they enjoyed searching through the grass to find their meal, but they soon learned that was where the food was. The first few times I did this they just stood there looking at me, but they soon learned that Dad was putting them through a “working” meal.
It was a joy to look out the window and watch them, especially when wet snow was in the yard. Seeing them stick their noses in the snow and come out with snow covered faces was funny. The first few times I did this in the summer I would walk through the yard afterward looking for any morsels they had missed. Rarely were any found — they had cleaned their plates.
Next month I will have information on the Jeanette Hunt Animal Shelter's Doggie Splash. Until then, please visit our Facebook page to see all that we are doing and ways to help our management of the shelter.