16 minutes | Mar 15th 2019

Kathy Santo's Dog Sense Episode 2: Ditch The Bowl Challenge

Kathy and Sarah give tips and advice on how to use your dog's food to train them!



Kathy: Welcome to Kathy Santo’s Dog Sense “Episode Two: Ditch The Bowl Challenge.” I’m your host Kathy Santo and I'm here to teach you everything I've learned in my over three decades of training dogs, their families, competing in dog sports, writing about dogs, and being a guest on radio and TV shows. I'm so glad you joined us today and I'm also so glad that I'm here with one of my favorite people, my trainer, Sarah, who used to work up with us and our dog training facility in New Jersey, but now is out in Fort Collins, Colorado doing a smaller, at the moment, version of the school we have up here and we have big plans for you, Sarah. I'm really excited about putting a facility down there sometime soon.

Sarah: Yes, absolutely. Hey everyone! Alright, so today's episode we are going to address one of our absolute favorite things to do with our students. We do it throughout the year, and it's our Monthly Bowl Free Challenge.

Kathy: Which is different than a Free Bowl Challenge, which is what one of my students in Puppy Class, she’s like, “Wait, what? We get, you're giving us a free bowl?”

Sarah: Yeah.

Kathy: I'm like, “No, no, no...let me say it again. It's a Bowl Free Challenge.” But they still didn't know what the hell that means.

Sarah: No, they, and it's something that, that they don't even, it doesn't even cross their mind to do this. A lot of the times, like, when we tell students, like, use your dog's food to train, that's a perfect opportunity, to, for your dog to be learning how to earn everything in their lives and they don't even think about it. They think that they have to use, like, hot dogs or cheese to train their dogs anything.

Kathy: Right! So here's what I tell them. Number one, when we train new dogs, puppies, a lot of the times we're using food and it's because there's not a relationship yet with the owner and the dog. And two, food, to dogs, is currency. It's like paychecks. Although, occasionally, I get somebody who says, “Why can't I just train with praise?” And I'm like, “Well you can, but it's not as interesting to the dogs, because they hear you talking all the time. You probably praised them for just breathing all the time,” and, “How would you like it if your workplace decided, ‘you know what we're doing with paychecks, we're just going to give you lots of compliments’? ”

Sarah: We're going to hug you every time you do a great job.

Kathy: Right!

Sarah: Kisses on the cheek for exceptional work.

Kathy: Exactly. No, that's why I work for myself.

Sarah: I would be, I would quit. I'd be out of there in three seconds.

Kathy: That’s right! And, you know what, there's a lot of dogs who don't like that physical touching stuff!

Sarah: Exactly!

Kathy: So, yeah, way to turn your dog off. Alright, so, basically what I explained to my students is, your dog and you have a list of things you want to teach them. Manners, commands, just basic stuff, basic dog husbandry, that you need to have them understand so that you can live a happy life together, which is the reason you got your dog in the first place.

Sarah: Yup.

Kathy: And if you have all these things that you need to teach and every day you give them a free bowl twice a day, or three of you have a puppy, of exactly what they want for doing nothing, you are throwing away the biggest training tool that you have, and that is, leveraging their meal for training. I mean, and when you say to people, they're like, “Oh yeah, you're right!” The thing of it is it improves your relationship because you have something the dog wants. The dog is like, “Hey, I...I really want that!” And you're like, “Hey, that's awesome. Let's do something together!” The dog is like, “Absolutely, I will totally engage with you!” Versus what you get most of the day if you're not training with us and you don't have the system in place, which is you walk by your dog, you're like, “Hey, you want to train?” Dogs chewing a bone, he's like, “Nope, I'm good. Full from breakfast.” I mean that sucks so much.

Sarah: And think about the dogs. Like, most of the time if you ask an owner like, “When is your dog like the happiest, when was he happiest?” Most of the time they're going to say, “When I'm making his food.”

Kathy: Right! They get so excited! Imagine if your dog was that into you, the way they are into their bowl. Like…

Sarah: Exactly!

Kathy: Like, you could teach him to do anything. You could teach them to drive your car.

Sarah: We're getting there.

Kathy: But, right now, they're excited to see the bowl and not you, but we're going to flip that. So let's go over a few things that people don't, the reason they resist. So one of the reasons they resist is because they say, “This is so much food! Like, my puppy or my dog gets two cups of food a day!” Are you kidding me? I can get rid of two cups of food in 15 minutes. Then I hear, “Oh, I don't have extra time to train my dog!”

Sarah: Yeah.

Kathy: Okay, dude. Feeding your dog probably takes you five minutes top to bottom, but training will take you 10 or 15, so, get up a little earlier, like, stay off of freaking Facebook.

Sarah: Exactly! Yeah!

Kathy: Like, just, devote the time in the beginning of this training journey and you get what you want. I promise you'll have all that Facebook time later. You'll have time to watch whenever that you watch on Netflix, you will. But this is so critical. When you start out training, whether it's an eight week old puppy or an eight year old dog, you still got to put in this foundation stuff, and this is really important. I also hear, that, “I feed raw.” So they were like, “I feed raw food. I'm not touching that.”

Sarah: If you didn't touch on this one, I was gonna say the same thing.

Kathy: Exactly. Alright, so get a glove. Get a glove or a spoon!

Sarah: I use a spoon. My dogs eat raw every single meal we train, and I use a spoon.

Kathy: Yeah. And, so easy. If you're really fussy and picky, you can even get, um, I don’t know how to explain it. They're like tubes. Just go on Amazon, they have all this crap, and you can put stuff in the tube. The, the bottom of it is open. It's like a toothpaste tube.

Sarah: Yup.

Kathy: Put it in, roll it down. There's a little clip you put on it, then you can squeeze it out like toothpaste. So if you just don't want to touch that stuff, I get it. Not really, but I say I do, and put it into like that. Then you don't have to have actual contact with the raw. My son, when he feeds his dog, he puts on gloves and gets all the stuff he needs into the bowl. So, you could get gloves, too. Whatever you want to do, just make it happen. Oh, another reason to feed with the bowl, you don't want this 700 pound dog!

Sarah: Yeah.

Kathy: So if you're doing training with food, at some point your dog is bigger than he should be. We like to call it fluffy. The vet’s going to hate it, and your dog isn't going to thrive because of it. So I want you to make sure that the food is a big part of it. Uh, what other objections? Oh, “My dog doesn't like his food.” Okay.

Sarah: Ugh.

Kathy: Alright. So if he didn't like his food, and it’s a really healthy food. It's like the kids, you know, my kids didn't want to eat broccoli, they'd rather have cookies. Yeah, but at some point you gotta be like, “You know, I know what I'm doing. You can't have the cookies until you eat the Broccoli.”

Sarah: Exactly.

Kathy: So in that case, you can dress up the food. So you can get a hunk of, like, the rind of parm and you could get a piece of bacon, put it in a Ziploc bag with the kibble, shake it like Shake’n’Bake throw it in the fridge when you're going to have a training session the next day, your meal training session, take it out and use it. Now it's scented kibble.

Sarah: Yup.

Kathy: But, but I also think that some dogs don't like their food because they get so much other crap during the day. Like, they get snacks and all this stuff and so they don't have a food drive, then, you know, it's kind of lost on them. Alright! So I want you to give some examples, because I know your students ask you this too, of what things you can train with your dog during the Bowl Free Month. Like, how to get rid of this food. And at the end of the day have a full puppy, and a dog, or a puppy who's learned more than they knew before the meal.


Sarah: Okay. I could go into this topic, we can look at your podcast for three hours on this topic. Giving everyone examples of what they could do with their food. But some of my top ones, alright, so for puppies, your impulse control games. Work them in the kitchen or the dining room where you, the situation, you were most likely going to need it. So in the dining room, you know your kids drop a plate, you're in the kitchen, something falls over, work your impulse control games in those environments. Next one, name recognition games, especially with a puppy, they need to learn their name and they need to know how awesome it is. Every time they hear their name, they get food.

Kathy: Wait, stop.

Sarah: Yup.

Kathy: Do you, some people think that their dog knows their name or their puppy knows her name and they don't?

Sarah: Oh yeah. So I test it in class and I, you know the dog, the dog's distracted. They're looking at other puppies in class and you say the dog's name and he completely ignores you?

Kathy: Right? And they, you know what, sometimes they you hear, you know this, they say, “Oh, but he's distracted.” I'm like, “Hello?”

Sarah: Yeah.

Kathy: He needs their attention. When they’re looking a squirrel and booking it across the road, do you need their attention when they're looking at the squirrel? So, yes, something you need to do. Tons of name recognition games.

Sarah: You could use your entire bowl of food, and literally it's just your dog's looking away from you. They're distracted by air molecules. Maybe it's a squirrel outside the window or something, and you will, you say their name you feed him a handful, whether it's raw or cable, whatever it is.

Kathy: I just thought about something. This the criteria of when we say you should train your puppy or dog, which is when they're hungry, lonely and bored.

Sarah: Exactly.

Kathy: So they've been sleeping all night, they've been in their crate or they're confined and, so they're bored, and they're hungry, and they're lonely. And so the same thing at dinner time. And if you want, before you do your dinner meal or your lunchtime meal, I would put them somewhere away from you for at least a half an hour. So that when you showed up, your dog is bored, and he's like, “Oh my God, so good to see you. Let's do something fun!” And you're like, “Hey, how about food?” And the dog is really into it. Alright, what else?

Sarah: So touching on what you just said, also, so let's say if you were someone who may be living in an apartment or you don't have a fenced in yard and you take your dog for walks in the morning for their potty. Take their kibble, put it in a little baggie with you, put it in your pocket and train on your walk. That's another huge one that you can use. And, also, for people who say they don't have time to train. What, if you have to walk your dog, either way, they need to go potty, take the food with you. That's another huge one that people can do.

Kathy: I find it surprising how many people don't think to take the dogs food with them.

Sarah: I know they don't. And a lot of times I hear, you know, it's, it's frustrating for them to bring food with them, blah, blah blah. But it's like, that's your paycheck. That's how you're going to teach your dog all of these things. And if you want your dog to learn heel position, you're taking them on walks either way. Why not be training?

Kathy: t's much more frustrating to get dragged down the street...

Sarah: Right!

Kathy: By your dog tugging and lunging. And, wait, oh, we have to touch on this even though it's kind of not about this, but look. I go crazy when people are handing food to other people and saying, “Well, you feed my dog.” Why the hell are...

Sarah: That’s a big one!

Kathy: ...you teaching your puppy, or dog, that all those people out there have food, and that they're going to give it to him? Because what you're creating is a dog who wants everything but you. Now people are going to go, “Oh, well you should socialize!” yeah, you know what's socializing is? Somebody interacts with my puppy and I feed them, or my dog, and I feed them. I'm not letting them think that the world is full of vending machines, because you get zero engagement that way. Dog goes on the walk specifically to seek out food that other people have, and what they really should be doing is trying to earn the food that you brought. That's the way it works. It doesn't, and, and people are like, “Oh the whole life of the dog? Fourteen years?” No! Maybe six, nine, 12 months till you're done with this. But you got to put it in and you don't forget. And if you did forget, you trudge back up the driveway, you go in and you grab your food. It has to happen.

Sarah: Yup.

Kathy: Alright, what else?

Sarah: Alright, let's see. Okay, so for puppies, body handling games. Huge, huge, huge thing to do with puppies, and it's so easy. You have your bowl of food, you pick up a paw, you feed some kibble. Next one, next paw, the belly, the tail, the ears, the neck, the collar grab game. That's another huge one we teach students! It’s to make sure that they always associate you touching or reaching for their collar with that positive and appetitive response, so they're not shying away from it. Um, and other thing, so I mean all of your, your basic puppy command, your sit, down stays, you could do the beginning of place. People who say that they want to get rid of like a lot of food quickly, place. Greatest thing ever! You can throw a whole, you can have half a bowl of food on there for the dog getting onto their place command.

Kathy: Exactly. Yeah.

Sarah: Um, and then another, my last one for puppies is going to be puppy fitness. So our whole entire team is certified canine athlete specialists, so we're super, super into making sure that from the beginning of the dog's life until the end that they're getting the physical exercise in the fitness that they need to live a long and healthy life. So we start with puppies and we have to teach them to be at the beginning of it. So paws up and pivoting or two of my favorite things to teach puppies.

Kathy: And you know we talked about this in the barking episode, which was episode one, but the physical combined with the brain work creates a nice tired dog. So that people who don't buy into the idea of probably fitness or even begin a dog fitness, I'm like, “Look dude, if you do this dog will be better behaved and tired!” And they’re, like, “Ahh, sold!”

Sarah: Yeah, exactly. We'll give them, the, yeah, we'll sell them the tired card.

Kathy: Yup. Yup. All right. Now for the beginner dogs, we have doorway protocol, which is just the way that we teach our dogs to go through the door, which is they have to sit before we open it. They have to go through when we release them, and then they have to sit at the other side of it. And so there's a really great game we do where we straddle the doorway and we show them a cookie and we released him through the door. “Okay. Sit!” and we'd get them back in. “Okay. Sit!” So basically they’re ping ponging back and forth. Yes! There's the leash on the dog. Yes! I'm standing on it because I don't feel like chasing an untrained dog down the street.

Sarah: Right.

Kathy: That is an awesome way to get rid of food. Recalls in the yard or in a field. Teaching them to look at you, sit down, stay place, more advanced stuff like that. Again, body handling games and beginner fitness, just like you were talking about with the pivoting. Um, the listening for intermediate/advanced, dogs is really a great way to test it. Doing set up versus side, sit versus down, place versus paws up. Uh, long waits, really long sit stays. When we say, wait, we mean sit  stay, and putting them in place while you make your dinner or you just do something fun. Uh, and they have to stay there and be calm and the reward for that is you're feeding them. And I also thought the, the example is making dinner, but then I'm like, oh, when you're on the computer too.

Sarah: Yeah. Like you were talking about you want to be able to sit and Netflix, you know, sit at your laptop watching Netflix, your dog has to, it can't be constantly bothering you because they weren't, you know, they weren't truly tired.

Kathy: Exactly. Alright. Well I think if you are not motivated to try The Ditch The Bowl Challenge, you need to listen to this again.

Sarah: Exactly. You could do so much with it and it's really, it's building your relationship with your dog. That's one of the most important parts to get out of this.

Kathy: Yeah. The leash guys, the leash and the cookie isn't the relationship.

Sarah: Yup.

Kathy: It's you and the dog and the way that you feel about each other. The way your dog looks at you, the way he views you as the person who owns all the fun stuff and shares it with him when he behaves in a certain way that you like. So we hope that you're going to try this and I'd love to hear your feedback. So that's it for this episode of Kathy Santo's Dog Sense. When you try this at home with your dogs do tag us with hashtag: Ditch The Bowl Challenge. (#ditchthebowlchallenge) Thank you so much for spending time with us. I hope you'll join us again soon. And if you have comments or show ideas do you can reach us through our website at kathysantodogtraining.com. As always, if you like what you heard jump over to whatever subscription service you downloaded this from and like rate, subscribe, tell a friend, and share these episodes somewhere to help spread the word so we continue to create an awesome community of dog lovers and learners. Happy training everyone!

Play Next
Mark Played