When we feed the dogs, we give them their food, then a treat. Bella Greenies as her treat; Annie gets a knotted rawhide. Greenies are toothbrush-shaped, green chew treats that clean dogs' teeth and freshen their breath. From empirical evidence, they taste really, really good: Bella will howl until she gets her Greenie after dinner, which is our routine: dog food, then treat. She demands her Greenies. Now, now, now! if she doesn't get one immediately after she's finished her do-I-really-have-to-eat-it dog food.
It's so bad, we call Greenies by their real name: Doggie Crack®.
This Christmas, we're dog sitting Rossi. For those counting, that's one (Bella), two (Annie), three (Rossi) dogs. Their code names are The Little One (Bella at 29 pounds), The Big One (Rossi at ~90 pounds -/+) and The Bad One (of course, that's Annie, at 35 pounds).
The Bad One doesn't get Greenies, as she doesn't actually chew them. Instead, she bites them into three pieces and swallows the chunks without chewing. Kinda defeats the teeth-cleaning purpose of them. The chunks can be seen the next day out in the backyard in Annie's poop. Bella will later eat these tasty chunks of Doggie Crack®.
Before we started dog sitting, we were told that Rossi gets two cups of food a day. Normally it would just sit in a dish, but our dogs would eat it, so instead she gets one cup twice a day like our dogs do. Rossi has learned to eat it when she gets it, or go hungry until the next eating time. She also gets a treat when everyone leaves, because she has separation anxiety.
Well, as Ros is a bit overweight, we're giving her less food than the two cups. We did, however, start her on the after-dinner treat routine by giving her a doggie biscuit after dinner. We haven't been giving her adios-dog-we're-leaving-you-alone treats, because she hasn't seemed to need them.
After a few days of doggie biscuits, Rossi started getting rawhides. She didn't get a new one every day, as she never quite finished them. After a few more days of this, I thought I'd give Rossi a choice: a dog biscuit like she's been getting, a rawhide like The Bad One gets, or Doggie Crack® like The Little One gets.
When presented with the three options, Rossi sniffed each one in turn. Hmmmmm, I've had this biscuit before, it's dry. Hmmmm, yes, this rawhide takes me FOR-EV-VER to eat. Hmmmm, what's this? It's different. Now, what are these smells again? She sniffed each one in turn, then sniffed again. Then sniffed again. Finally, she put her mouth around the Greenie, er, Doggie Crack®, and waited. She didn't pull (Liza training, I think - you can't pull food out of a 2 year old's hand without some repercussion, so bite gently and wait). Instead, she just waited for me to say okay. Little did she know I was starting her on a path of no return: she loved her first one.
Now, when we try to feed her dinner in the evening, she doesn't want to eat. She wants her Doggie Crack®. She sniffs her food ("Bah. Dog Food."), then hurries over to me ("Where's my Crack? Where's my Crack?"). I have to tell her several times, and point, and command, "Eat! Food before Greenies!".
I think she's starting to understand the routine. Food first. Then Doggie Crack®. Food. Crack. Food. Crack. That's the way it works at Krikitt Downs.