The Importance of Our Meal-Time Routine
We think that our meal-time routine is one of the most important things we teach our puppies for several reasons.
First of all, it teaches them in a gentle way to have respect for us and submission to us. For 8 week old puppies, food is the most important thing in their world. If they can learn early to associate the fact that humans control their food source, they will learn that humans are to be respected at an early age. Although most dogs receive their food from humans, they never learn that humans also can control when they eat it. At 8 weeks, most untrained puppies dive uncontrollably into a bowl of food, feeling instinctively that they must snatch it, devour it, and keep it to themselves. Puppies need to learn early that we control the food and that they cannot take that control away from us. The food is ultimately ours. However, this training is not all negative in the eyes of a puppy. Through this training, they not only learn that we control the food, they learn that we also protect it. They don't need to protect the food for themselves. They can trust us and look to us for that protection.
The second reason we focus on meal-time training is that it teaches puppies self-control which not only makes for a better family member, it gives confidence. If a puppy can sit with a bowl of food in front of him without eating it or even looking at it, he will have a foundation laid that will make teaching all kinds of behaviors much easier. Teaching a
wait command for food can carry-over in teaching a
wait for chasing squirrels, for running through doors, for greeting strange people, or when meeting new dogs.
The third and final reason that we have our meal-time routine is that it teaches our puppies to love their crates. We condition them at early ages that this is the best place in the world. The best toys and bones can only be found in their crates and their food only comes in a crate or from our hands. A love of a crate taught at an early age will serve a puppy and his family well for his entire life.