Hooray for Day 1 of the Sexier Than A Squirrel (STAS) Challenge! Game 1 is all about ditching the bowl. When you consider that in the prey side of our dog's mind, squirrels are effectively potential dinner on the hoof, why not make yourself as exciting as that?
Understandably, for some dogs (and owners) ditching the bowl is challenging as mealtime is their favorite activity of the day. But when you change it up and use that meal to play with your dog attitudes change on both sides of the bowl. What I have done with Boomer is to keep about 1/2 (sometimes more) of his morning food aside to use for game (training) activities. For the first few days he would give me a look that said "haven't you forgotten something?" but once he realized that food can now be a chance to play he quickly adapted. He loves animated food games, catch, and mouse game (caging food under your hand until dog sits back nicely....good for focus and impulse control.) We do the same with about 1/3 of dinner. And on days when game time is limited, that reserved food goes into a kong or puzzle toy (he loves the wobble ball that dispenses food as he pushes it around.) By engaging a part of his brain we often forget to think about, prey drive and working for their meal, rather than feeling like he is being deprived (or alternately that he is getting too many training treats) he is actually getting a chance to interact with his food in a more natural way that is fun and healthy. And they are rewarded with a guaranteed meal, which is not always the case when chasing those quick squirrels.