Puppy running towards food reward in person's hand

3 Ways to Ditch The Bowl (and supercharge your dog training)


What is ditch the bowl?

Ditch the Bowl is a KEY dog training concept for us that our dogs LOVE!

But what is ditch the bowl? And why is it SO important for our dogs?

Every single one of us starts every day with a pot of value (ie our dog’s food!) in our hands. And what do we typically do with our dogs food?

We put it in a bowl. And they eat it without thinking, without doing, without an experience. 

At AbsoluteDOGS one of the key things we incorporate into our dog training is EXPERIENCES.

It supercharges our dog’s training. It creates happy and engaged dogs!

In this blog we’ll share 3 ways to ditch the bowl – and supercharge your dog training!

Why ditch the bowl?

Dogs love to work for their food. We call it Learn to Earn. You may have heard it as the term contra-freeloading. It is a practical and psychological act that really dials into their natural instincts. Dogs had to hunt for their own food back in the wild days. But the domestication of dogs has meant that we now do that for them!

Giving your dog the chance to work for their food taps into this natural instinct. They LOVE it! It gives them an EXPERIENCE.

It engages their brain. It gets them moving physically. It grows their confidence. It is massively reinforcing. It SUPERCHARGES your dog training to a level you might have noticed you were missing.

You don’t get that from a bowl! (unless you have a VERY special bowl!)

Finding time to Ditch the Bowl in your Dog Training

“I can’t possibly ditch the bowl!” 

One of the most common oppositions to ditching the bowl is lack of time.

Feeding your dog from a bowl, at a set time, is easy. It fits nicely into our busy human lives. And what if your dog is raw fed? Doesn’t that open up a whole other world of difficulty?

In a word, no. 

Ditching the bowl is accessible to everyone: the time poor, the raw feeders, those whose dogs require medication in their food, those with puppies, those with senior dogs.

How do we know? We’ve taught hundreds of thousands of Gamechangers all over the world to ditch the bowl successfully in our online dog training courses and memberships.

Ditching the routine of feeding your dog three times a day is large part of ditch the bowl, but we promise, with a little bit of prior thought and planning, there is no reason why ditching the bowl should EVER be difficult. There is always a way.

And as ever in the AbosluteDOGS world - the way to ditching the bowl involves a whole heap of fun!

3 quick ways to work ditch the bowl into your day

If the thought of throwing your dog’s bowl in the bin immediately is a little overwhelming, do not fear!

You can use Ditch the Bowl in your dog training by starting small, in ways that are easy for you to implement. You will VERY quickly see how much your dog enjoys it and you’ll soon be looking for any opportunity to bond with your dog over food. 

Here are three easy ways to get you started..

Ditch the Bowl Dog Training Game 1 – Scatterfeeding at Breakfast

Mornings can be a busy time in the household. You feel like you are winning if you remember to feed your dog, never mind contemplate ditching their bowl and training them!

So why are we suggesting you start ditching the bowl here?

Scatter feeding is actually the most FUN dog training game to play and it’s so quick and easy – you can even get the kids on board to help.

1.Pick somewhere it will be safe for your dog to hunt for pieces of food.  (The grass in your back garden is perfect)

2.Take a portion of your dog’s daily food allowance and scatter it in the area.

TIP: Start with a small area first so they get the idea and then you can widen the area (which means it will take them longer!).

If outside scatterfeeding isn’t an option, you can play this game in the house. Snuffling in carpet or rugs work – or get REALLY creative and fill a box with balls and scatter feed in there. There are also things called snuffle mats you can find online, and if you’re REALLY crafty,  tutorials that show you how to make your own.

Ditch the Bowl Dog Training Game 2 – Boundary Training During the Day

Breakfast over, the work of the day begins. Perhaps you need your dog to chill out in their bed while you work at your desk, or stay on their bed as you go about some life admin!  Maybe you just don’t want them to react to the noise of the door!

Let’s get that pot of value to work with some easy win dog training!

  1. Every time your dog makes a good choice to not react and stay on their bed you are going to reward them with a piece of their food calmly placed onto their bed:
  2. STAGE 1 - If they stay on their bed with no distraction
  3. STAGE 2 - If they stay on the bed with small distractions like you standing up, moving around, or the phone ringing.
  4. STAGE 3 - If they stay on their bed when there is a knock at the door/the cat walks past etc.

You might have to spend a LOT of time training your dog at Stage 1 before progressing. It’s all good! Start small.

Ditch the Bowl Dog Training Game 3 – Evening Chill Time (yes please!)

After a busy day, we all want to sit down and relax right? Who has a dog that thinks the lounge is a play gym the moment you sit down?

This is a great time to give your dog some long-lasting food. It’s calming, it’s settling, it works their brain and you may even find they fall asleep after!

Filled Kongs - there are so many fillings to choose from! Raw, veggies or softened kibble.

Calm Mats - We love K9 Calm Mats here at absoluteDogs – take some food, squish it all over the mat and watch as your dog tries to get it all out. You can add supplements too!

TIP: Freeze your Kongs and Calm mats for even LONGER lasting food

Natural chews and bones  - These are great for cleaning teeth and last a really long time. Check what’s suitable for your dog’s age with your local pet shop.

Find it games – Hide their food around the lounge and get them to hunt it out – sniffing is EXCELLENT work for a dog.

FUN FACT: Did you know sniffer dogs generally only work for 20 minutes before they need a break? That’s how tiring sniffing is!

Want more Ditch the Bowl ideas?

These are just some of the ways you can ditch the bowl to supercharge your dog training and build a life full of experiences, enrichment (and calm!) for your dog!

If you want the full lowdown on ditching the bowl you can download our Ebooks here including one SPECIFICALLY aimed at Raw feeders (yep we told you it’s all possible!)

Ditch the Bowl Ebook

Ditch the Bowl with RAW edition Ebook

Ditch the Bowl Dog Training Course

Or why not take it a step further and we’ll take you step by step through ditch the bowl in our ditch the bowl online learning course. You’ll get lots of ideas and recipes so that you’ll become a ditch the bowl pro in no time!