Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Multiple Pet Mania--Feeding

Week 3's theme for Multiple Pet Mania is about feeding. My mama has spent my entire life trying to convince me that we should "eat to live, not live to eat" and that "we don't fight over food" (clearly she doesn't understand the heartbreak of polishing off your portion of Pirate's Booty only to find that your brother hasn't even touched his and won't share with you).

Luckily for me, Barley and Soth don't fight over food, but they absolutely share my love of living to eat. As much as they love other activities (hiking for Barley, sunbathing for Soth), their days revolve around when they'll get their next bite to eat. If I go out after Barley's had dinner, when I get home she will spend the rest of the night running from me to her bowl because she knows that once we've had dinner we're settled in for the night. If Soth's dish ends up tragically empty before I'm awake, he'll knock anything he can get his paws on--travel coffee mugs, jars of peanut butter, the paper towel holder--off the counters in a fit of hungry rage until I get up. These two do not play around when it comes to meal time.

Even though it's blurry, this is one of my favorite pictures because they are both licking their lips.

Barley has a lot of issues, but thankfully food aggression is not one of them--she will try to hide from me if I need to take a chew away from her, but once I catch her, she gives it up without a fuss; she shows the same gentleness with her brother at meal time. 

If we touch noses, we might get a snack for being cute.

One of our biggest challenges with feeding is patience--or lack thereof--(and I'm sure they've both inherited this trait from me). Barley's favorite phrase is "Are you hungry?" and the second that question comes out of my mouth, she's dancing in circles all over the house. While we have some training games we play together to work on this, having a multi-pet family actually seems to be a lot of help with building Barley's patience.

We have a very clear breakfast routine each morning. I wash Soth's wet food bowl, get the coffee started, and then dish up some wet food for Soth. Barley is giddy with anticipation, but she knows that her breakfast comes last and that the less dancing she does, the easier it will be for me to get through the rest of the routine quickly. Of course, there are the mornings when she's just sure she hasn't eaten for days and she steps in the water bowl, which prolongs her waiting as I mop things up, but overall she's become a very patient pup when it comes to waiting for food.

Barley was the second dog in this generation of family dogs. She met my parents' dog before I realized that she had issues with other dogs--and other than a few minor scuffles, they get along swimmingly--but I was worried about how feeding them would go over when they are together because Barley does get so excited about dinner time.

Maz patiently lies in wait for her treat, Maddux sits for his, and Barley does something somewhere in between.

We've got feeding them down to an art, though. We put their bowls on opposite sides of the kitchen and I give my mom's dog a 3-second head start before I tell Barley she can eat and then they usually finish at the same time. When they're both done, they switch and lick out each other's bowls--just in case a crumb was missed. If my sister's dog is there, too, she stands guard by him because he eats a little more slowly than the other dogs do, but they're usually too busy cleaning each other's bowls to worry about what's left in Maddux's dish.

If the girls get a longer-lasting snack, like a Frosty Paws or a dental chew, it's not uncommon for Barley to settle down with her so that some part of her is touching part of Maz and if I have them do a synchronized down, they often end up "holding paws" and Barley has no issues with Maz being in her space. Honestly, the only problem that comes up is that Barley's excitement over food is contagious and my parents' dog usually picks up on the happy dinner dance, which is not my dad's favorite behavior, but I can't fault them for it since I'm usually doing a happy dinner dance myself.

You don't mind that my tail is on your leg, do you, Maz?

The only challenge we haven't been able to work through is the fact that Barley thinks cat food is more delicious than dog food. Soth's dishes stay on the kitchen counter (which makes me crazy) because that's the only place in our apartment that's harder for Barley to get his food, but Barley will jump onto the counter (all four feet) to get to it. 

Luckily, I'd temporarily put the cat food on top of the fridge before I stepped outside for a minute.

When we were training for the TDI test, we used cat food to practice walking with food in her path--cat food wins out over the shredded chicken they used in our test, so I knew that if she could walk over cat food with no problems, that item on the test would be a breeze (and it was--it was just the down in wet grass that she wanted nothing to do with). This dog can walk over an entire container of spilled nachos with gooey cheese sauce in the middle of the sidewalk without batting an eye. I can leave an open bag of popcorn (her next favorite food) next to her on the bed while I leave the room and she won't touch it. If I put a bowl of cat food on the floor between us and call her to heel, she will run right past it (although she does look longingly at the bowl on the way). But if she's snoring away on the couch with cat food on the counter and I get up to go to the bathroom, she's immediately awake and trying to scramble onto the counter. It's a losing battle.

With Soth's FLUTD, he needs regular meals of wet food throughout the day to supplement his regular water intake, so there's usually food out for him at all times, especially since he prefers to pick at his food throughout the day rather than eat a full can all at once. That's not really something I can change to prevent the Barley Beast from stealing his food, so I try divide his cans up into several tiny meals throughout the day so she gets less of it if she does succeed in getting to it and then if we're going out for a hike or to agility class, I can give him a bigger portion since there won't be anyone to bother his food. If anyone has ideas on how to keep a crazy, food-obsessed dog off of counters, please send them my way.

Basically, though, at our house we all just appreciate a good meal and we enjoy each other's company while we eat--even if we're all too focused on shoveling food in our mouths to have quality dinner conversation.

Even when I'm cooking for me, Barley is excited. Lesson to everyone: "If you give a pig a pancake,  she'll want some syrup to go with it."

Be sure to check out the other blogs linking up with My GBGV Life, Wag 'n Woof Pets, and Cascadian Nomads to see about other adventures in multi-pet living!


12 comments:

  1. I am so grateful that I worked hard on teaching a solid stay and leave it command to my huskies. Those commands are the only thing that keeps feeding time partially sane at my house. With my 3 huskies, I have them all sit and stay while I am getting things ready, then tell the others to leave it when putting bowls down one at a time. Luckily the kitties are fed upstairs away from the dogs, so that part is easy.
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

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    1. I wish we had a separate place to feed Soth! Some day. I always love watching Barley wait for her dinner after it's in the bowl--you can just see the excitement rippling through her, but she is so good about being patient and waiting until I say ok.

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  2. We feed our cat Sam on the kitchen counter too, and we also have issues getting Luke to stay off the counter. I sometimes cannot believe how nuts dogs can be over cat food. When our elderly cat Conrad used to eat in the bathroom, our beagle would park herself outside that door and not move until we got him out.
    We have a lot of dancing going on in the kitchen when meals are being dished out, but we've never really tried to control it...I think it's cute! Luke will sit in his bed if we tell him to though.
    Like you I also would probably dance around at meal time too, if I didn't think my hubby would think I am nuts...LOL.
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

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    1. I think it's a good think Barley and Luke have never met--I can only imagine all of the scheming those two would do together! Barley's very good about leaving Soth alone when he's eating, but should he leave some for later and walk away from his food . . .

      I think the dinner dancing is cute, too! I always feel a little guilty when my dad gets frustrated when his dog chimes in. Barley knows that once the food is in the bowl the only way she's getting it is if she's in a down and making eye contact with me, so I don't mind a little dancing while I get everything ready :)

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  3. My sisters and I don't ever fight over food, and we wait patiently for mom to feed us, the cats on the other paw are a pain in the furs. Cat bro Bert will steal out dog food if Mom takes her eyes off the bowls for a second. He eats kitty sis Sophie's food if we don't watch him. He shreds toilet paper if his meal is late, Sophie wakes us up at 4am wanting food. The felines are a real problem here. Thanks for joining in the hop.

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    1. Bert is such a character! Soth sometimes steals hot dogs if I'm using them for noseworks practice treats and have a stash on the counter. He also steals my parents' cat's dry food if we don't keep him distracted while she eats (luckily, she wolfs down her food all at once, so it's pretty easy to keep him away for a few minutes). He's also an early alarm clock when his food dish is empty--but I try really hard not to give him food that early so he doesn't get rewarded for waking me up for food!

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  4. I'm late to this blog hop, but coincidentally I wrote about feeding too!

    Normally, we put our dogs' bowls down in different rooms and they have figured out whose food is whose. Mia is more likely to steal Leo's food than the other way around, and only occasionally does it lead to a fight!

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    1. Barley is very respectful of other creatures when they are at their bowls, but walk away from your bowl and leave even the smallest crumb and she's going to be right there making it hers :)

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  5. Love how much my bubba has been showing up lately! And that pic of Bar on the counter makes me smile :-)

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    1. When she does things like that, I tell her that she'll be in a basket on your door step, so I'm glad that it makes you smile ;)

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  6. I have to put the cats food on the table. But Gambler does jump up there too and he jumps on the counters too so nothing is safe.

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    1. Personally, I think cat food looks and smells disgusting--but I guess if we surveyed Gambler, Luke, and Barley we'd probably get a very different response ;)

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