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Do you find your furry friend gulping down their food in a matter of seconds? Does your chow hound gulp, hoard, and wolf their meals down? You’re not alone. Many dogs have a tendency to eat too quickly, which can lead to various health issues and behavioral concerns. This blog post will give you some practical, affordable strategies to help stop your dog from eating too fast!

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Signs That a Dog Eats Too Fast

Hungry puppies are pretty cute, but as dogs mature, the behavior of eating fast, gulping, and hoarding food can be dangerous for their health.

Here are some signs that your dog may need some help developing better eating habits:

  • Extreme excitement to get the food bowl
  • Gobbling and gulping food in seconds
  • Swallowing without chewing
  • Guarding the food bowl with their body and growling
  • Voraciously licking the bowl clean
  • Begging for more
  • Displaying signs of discomfort such as gagging or regurgitation during or after eating
  • Inability to stop when full (will eat the entire bowl, no matter how much is offered)

Fast eating can pose serious risks such as bloat, choking, obesity, and behavioral problems.

Of course, if you are in this blog post, you know that and are looking for ways to stop the gulping! Read on, friend!

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Why Do Dogs Eat Fast?

Fixing fast eating requires understanding why dogs eat fast in the first place. Several factors can contribute to why some dogs feel the need to chow down.

Think about how your dog approaches the food bowl, and see if any of these might apply:

  1. Instinctual Behavior: In the litter, some dogs have to compete for food, so they may develop a habit of eating quickly to ensure they get their share before it’s taken by others. Good breeders prevent this by monitoring feeding times and making sure that rude puppies don’t steal others’ food.
  2. Previous Experience: Dogs that have experienced food scarcity or competition for food in the past may be more inclined to eat quickly out of fear of not getting enough to eat. This may be especially true for some rescue dogs that have been through food neglect and starvation.
  3. Breed Predisposition: Some breeds, such as Labrador Retrievers and Beagles, are known for their hearty appetites and may be more prone to eating quickly. These breeds also have a hard time stopping when they are full and are thus prone to obesity.
  4. Excitement: Dogs can get excited about mealtime, especially if they enjoy their food, leading them to eat quickly without pausing to chew.
  5. Habit: Dogs are creatures of habit, and if they’ve learned to eat quickly over time, it can become an ingrained behavior.
  6. Attention-seeking: Some dogs may eat quickly as a way to get attention from their owners, especially if they’ve learned that fast eating behavior gets a reaction. If you regularly hover, shout, or try to slow your dog down by pulling the bowl away, you may be making the behavior worse.
  7. Medical Conditions: In some cases, medical conditions such as gastrointestinal issues or parasites can cause dogs to eat quickly. It’s important to rule out any underlying health concerns with a veterinarian.

Addressing fast eating habits involves understanding the underlying reasons and implementing strategies to encourage slower, more mindful eating.

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How to Stop a Dog From Eating Too Fast

There are many ways to slow your ravenous pooch down!

Here are some of our favorite tips and tricks:

  1. Specialized feeding bowls: Invest in slow feeder bowls, puzzle feeders, or interactive toys designed to make mealtime more challenging and engaging. I love the Kong Wobbler, especially for active dogs!
  2. Hand-feeding or smaller meals: Offer food by hand or divide meals into smaller, more frequent portions to encourage slower eating.
  3. Food dispensing toys: Use treat balls or food dispensing toys that require your dog to work for their meal, slowing down their eating pace. The Pet Zone IQ treat dispensing ball is a hit for dogs that love to chase toys!
  4. Dividing meals: Splitting meals into multiple portions or using food puzzles can make eating a more leisurely and stimulating activity.
  5. Incorporating obstacles: Place obstacles such as large rocks or a West Paw Qwizzle in your dog’s food bowl to encourage them to eat around them, slowing down their consumption. Do not use this trick if your pet likes to swallow non-food objects! Obstructions are not cool.
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Kong Wobbler Puzzle Toy

Slow your pup down with this large, interactive toy. Fill it with kibble and watch your dog nose it around to get their food out.

Fun for humans and pets!

Training Techniques:

  1. Teach calm behavior: Encourage your dog to remain calm during mealtime. If your pup starts to wiggle and get excited, don’t reward this behavior by offering the food. Instead, stay calm and ask your pet for patience. Slowly put the bowl down.
  2. Positive reinforcement: Reward desired behavior, such as eating at a slower pace, to reinforce good habits. To implement this, put a piece of food in your fist. Present your first to your dog. Don’t open your fist until your pup is calm and will accept the treat from your hand gently. As soon as your pup is calm, open your fist and allow your pup to have the treat.
  3. Consistency and patience: Be consistent in your training efforts and patient as your dog learns to eat at a more relaxed pace.

Addressing Underlying Issues:

  1. Anxiety or stress: Address any underlying anxiety or stress that may be contributing to your dog’s fast eating habits through training, environmental enrichment, or professional guidance. If your pet tends to guard food while eating, the book MINE by Jean Donaldson is a fantastic resource. It’s important to avoid encouraging this behavior. Rather, manage the environment to prevent it.
  2. Medical conditions: Consult with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical conditions that may be causing your dog to eat too quickly.
  3. Avoid punishment: Avoid punishing your dog for fast eating behavior, as this can exacerbate anxiety and lead to further issues.
stop a dog from eating too fast

Looking for more resources to slow your fast-eating dog down? Check out this helpful post from Hill’s Science Diet.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. 

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