Canine Competitive Eating Champion

Shiva has always eaten her meals at Mach 5. Her first day with us she dove onto her bowl like she’d never seen so much food in one place. This hasn’t really changed. It’s pretty close to impossible to distract her from the task of scarfing down her kibble.

This concentration doesn’t just apply to regular meal times either. Shiva can be passed out asleep on the couch but if I drop a crumb in the kitchen, you can bet she will hear it and race around the house until she finds it. There is no dog more stubborn when it comes to food. A tiny piece of cheese could bounce under the furniture and she will scratch at the area for hours until it is devoured.

For the most part, I find it really amusing. It only gets tiring when I have to move the couch for the fifth time because she is convinced there may be a quarter of a cookie underneath. It’s hard to relax when your dog is attempting to shove her body into half a centimeter of space. But I am grateful for this extreme food motivation. I don’t know how I would have trained her otherwise.

It always stuns me when I see people calling their dogs off their food. I would love to have that measure of control. It would solve all of our recall issues, for one. It’s just hard to imagine Shiva moving away from anything that looks tasty. Especially after I’ve already given her permission to eat it.

There is hope, I think. She has been chowing down noticeably slower these days. This morning I took a video of Shiva eating her breakfast. We usually feed only small amounts at a time. With training and Kongs, she probably eats more than most dogs. (Not that you can tell.) However, I do like to keep up a regular routine of meal times and Shiva gets breakfast and dinner in her bowl after we return home from our walks. This morning I was surprised that it actually took her more than thirty seconds to finish! A new record!

Maybe eventually she will actually stop eating when she is full…

Hahahahahahaha! Oh, how I make myself laugh.

34 thoughts on “Canine Competitive Eating Champion

  1. The slight wag of the tail when you sang out “Shiva” lets me know she did hear you. But she was absolutely unable to tear herself away, wasn’t she?

    We’ve never fed Honey from a bowl. We started out with feeding her from a soda bottle when she was a puppy, graduated to a tug-a-jug, and now alternate it with a Kong Wobbler. It does slow her down (a good thing because GRs are subject to bloat if they eat too fast) but it also tires her out.

    After working for her breakfast, Honey often needs a nap.

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    • That is such a good idea. I’ve wondered if we should stop the bowl feeding altogether. Sometimes I do put her meals in a Nina Otosson puzzle toy but I haven’t for a while.

      I remember talking to someone, probably online, who said she fed her dogs by throwing the food outside in the backyard and making the dogs hunt for every piece. I think that idea would work so well for a dog like Shiva who enjoys the search almost as much as she enjoys the eating. Of course, we’d need a fenced yard first.

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      • We are with Pamela and Honey. Our greatest trainer of all time, Lee Mannix, told us to stop feeding Chick out of a bowl as his first request/piece of advice. He also had us vary mealtimes so he never knew when it was coming, which made him more willing to pay attention all the time. He thought there was a lot of value in a dog having to “work” for its food rather than gaining a sense of entitlement. We use a combo of frozen kongs, a wobbler, a treat stik, and gatorade bottles for Chick as well as all of our fosters, and they all get the concept pretty quickly. it also helps them settle down because of the intellectual challenge.

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  2. Wow, I had not ever seen Shiva in “Real Life” – I did not realize she was even cuter than her picture, or that that was possible.

    Joy and Noodle eat like that too! You are right – it helps with training!

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  3. that could be a description of georgia! no matter how much i feed her, she’s always ready for more. i think her prime purpose for going on walks is to find free food – on the ground or from the shops. such an embarrassment screaming for her to come while she’s busy snarfling some possum poop. sometimes, like shivs, she’ll lick and lick some tiny spot making me wonder what drop of soup she’s found. though she doesn’t look it, i’m sure she’s got labrador in her.

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    • LOL. That often seems to be Shiva’s primary purpose as well. She isn’t picky. Even grass or mud will do. Especially the freshly cut grass that lies in clumps. That’s the good stuff.

      Who knows? If Shiva is mostly Pomeranian, Georgia could definitely be a lab!

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  4. Shayne was an inhaler when I fed kibble… food was gone in seconds flat. One of the things I did to slow her down was put 3 tennis balls in her bowl so she had to eat AROUND the balls… after a year of being fed w/ tennis balls (or other toys) in her bowl, she really started to slow down her eating pretty significantly (even w/o tennis balls in the food).

    Do you play It’s Yer Choice games with food? If not, you should!

    p.s I missed your blog for a while! When you switched formats I stopped getting my daily emails! I finally got concerned and checked out your blog page to realize I missed like a week or two LOL!

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    • It’s Yer Choice is pretty much a daily hobby in this house. Other than on walks where every piece of litter is a prized item, she won’t go for food at home unless we give a release. It makes dinner preparation much easier!

      I really like your tennis ball idea. I’ve looked at special food dishes that have balls stuck inside already but have never thought of buying one. Your idea is much simpler, though I wonder if she wouldn’t just take the balls out. I’ll have to try it!

      And yes, I do apologize for the subscription problem. I had no idea that would happen at all and so couldn’t warn people. It’s been very irritating! I think the new system is working, but unfortunately all of the old ones have been lost. Ugh.

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  5. Wow, well done Shiva. Don’t complain about her being a ravenous eater, Kristine, it would be worse if you had the opposite, trust me. George almost died of starvation when we first had him, at least until we discovered what he liked to eat. He’s never been greedy and is still picky, he likes to take his time with his food and only eats what he likes. So yeah, I guess sometimes I envy you for having a good eater. 🙂

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    • Yikes, poor George. My childhood dog was similar. She only ate when she was hungry. Often her dinner bowl would sit untouched for hours. Shiva couldn’t be more opposite!

      I am glad you were able to find what works for George. It just shows how unique every dog really is.

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  6. I’ve two dogs at home and they are completely different when it comes to foods. Eva eats like there is no tomorrow’ everything looks yummy and good. She slurps everything down into her throat and her tongue moves super fast but I’m always worried that she might get choke to death one day. However, when it comes to Mika, he eats it so slowly as if the food is so hard so he has to make sure he chews every kibble well before he lets it get into his tummy. I can hear all the crunches whenever he’s eating and it takes ages for him to finish his meal!

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    • I just can’t picture Eva as a slurper. She is normally so lady-like! This is a new side of her I haven’t seen before.

      Mika is so cute. Perhaps he just likes to savour the flavors. I always feel a little jilted when Shiva scarfs down a fancy piece of meat the same way she would a boring piece of kibble. Mika sounds much more appreciative. 🙂

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  7. Stumpy was a power eater, up until Fenway’s last visit. she’s just not that into it, now. I’m sure she would have had a shot at the gold.

    That’s ok, though. It just means we use more of her dinner as treats and bribes and torture!

    Happy, Waggin’ Tails, FUREVER!
    Stumpy and me

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    • Isn’t it great when you can use boring old kibble as a treat? I love that most of all, I think!

      Poor Stumpy. She’s still not herself, eh? That’s so hard.

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  8. Delilah is a Mach 5 eater too, she has been like that from day one. Sampson always ate his food at different times throughout the day (until Delilah came.) Now that they are on raw, he eats his pretty quickly.

    What we did to slow Delilah down was to put a cup upside down in her bowl so she ate around the cup. I got tired of hearing that cup though, so I have a bowl that when you turn it upside down, there is a ring and we feed her that way. I will try and get a picture to e-mail to you. That has slowed her down considerably and Sampson has actually finished eating before her sometimes!

    When I feed them their necks in the morning, she has been know to take one cruch and swallow the neck! I’m not sure if it is a lab trait, or a rescue trait.

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    • I didn’t think about the noise level. I could definitely see that getting annoying. But it’s something worth trying, even just to provide her with a new challenge. I’d love to see any photos!

      Could be a rescue trait, who knows? I attribute a lot of Shiva’s hoovering anything in her path to the time she spent as a stray.

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    • Thanks for the suggestion. Perhaps we should look at something like that. I am not overly worried as she doesn’t get a whole lot of food at once, but this may be worth a shot. Especially if it would help me learn how to call her away from food. The only thing that distracts her right now is more food!

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  9. I think we may need to get on the toy-feeding bandwagon too. We’ve always been concerned with the way Miss M scarfs down her food and we’re so afraid of bloat, and actually had a scare that sent us to the Emergency Vet last weekend.

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  10. Our dogs are fast eaters too – to the point where they can sometimes make themselves sick because they don’t actually chew! We stopped feeding them in bowls too so they can’t gulp the food down and it’s really helped. Toys are great (sometimes I feed them from Kongs) but you can also feed them on something flat (like a cookie sheet so the food is spread out a bit) and I’ve seen some people use cupcake baking pans! The food goes in the little “cups” and it takes the dog awhile to get it all 🙂

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  11. Haaa. I know dogs who just inhale their food, quite literally. It usually happens when I feed two dogs at once — it becomes a competition between them.

    Elli’s slowed down tremendously since I got her. I was told when I adopted her that she eats quickly because she was probably starved at some point in her life. 😦 With predictable mealtimes, she’s much less apprehensive of if she’s going to get any/enough food. For a while, I put a round rock in her bowl (after sanitizing) and that seemed to help quite a bit. It’s also incredibly cheaper than the mealtime balls and bowls made for ravenous eaters.

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  12. Wow,

    That was seriously fast!! Mum was worried I’d be a fast eater like her previous dog, so she got me a special bowl with a mound in the middle so you have to eat around the edges!

    She needn’t have bothered, cos I’m so not bothered about my food, I can really take it or leave it, or take some and leave the rest, true I have no competition, but I don’t even care if my buddy Cosmo eats it when he comes over to play….. 🙂

    Hope you’re having a fun day,

    Your pal Snoopy 🙂

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  13. Many dogs eat fast I have not personally dealt with much of that. Luna was not a big eater for her first 2 years but she is quite into it now and will try just about everything. Wyatt for being a lab is not a speed eater by any means. Even with new treats he will go savor them, unlike my vizsla who hardly chews anything if it comes from my hand.

    They sell several types of slow feeder bowls. Everything from puppy pans with the center still in it, to bowls with nubs in the bottom. A simple solution is to put something in the bowl to eat around as others have mentioned. This can be anything from a bone, ball, kong, smaller bowl or even just a big rock. I think that would slowly retrain her brain. The bottle full of food is common around here as is spreading the food all over and making them hunt. Both of which are slightly more complicated as we have 2 dogs and I don’t want to have to do them seperate, but they are polite with each other as they run around in a hunting frenzy. There are lots of things you can do to slow her down, but she is not the worst I have seen by any means.
    Anna
    http://www.akginspiration.com

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  14. So agree with Shawn. Shiva is really adorable. 🙂

    I was quite impressed at how quickly she went to her mat and waited (with barely contained excitement) for the okay to go and eat.

    I actually agree with Pamela and a few others here. I recommend not feeding from a bowl at all. I have met two dogs now (one was my client) who developed issues with swallowing as a result of scarfing down their food. I can’t remember what it’s called, but it has to do with the esophogus and it stretching or something like that. I think someone else may know what I am talking about.

    I am fortunate that neither Daisy or Jasper scarfs down their food, but I still throw kibble out into the snow or on the lawn for them to find or put it into Kongs (I used to use the Tug-n-Jug, but Jasper figured out that if he turned it upside down and banged it on the floor the kibble came out) just to be safe.

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