Food carries a powerful message in the dog world. Puppies work for food by waiting patiently for their mother. This is a form of psychological exercise, and it’s important for a healthy state of mind.
Domestication has brought about a change in the way dogs receive their meals and in the way they behave before mealtime. Dogs will often become excited, anxious, or aggressive at the prospect of being fed. If you feed your dog when he displays negative behaviors, you are reinforcing the behavior, and it will almost certainly reoccur.
I feed many dogs at the same time with no problems. Dogs that show calm-submissive energy get to eat first, and dogs that show negative behaviors such as aggression or nervousness must wait. When these dogs project calm-submissive energy, I reward them with their meal – much like their mother or pack leader would do.
Mealtimes are a useful tool to help you connect with your dog and work to shape his demeanor. Make sure your dog has reached a calm-submissive state before you place the food bowl in front of him. By doing so, you are not only providing him with nutrition, you are helping him lead a balanced and happy life.