Springer feeding is key element in reinforcing your role as the top dog in the pack. How, when and where you feed your SPringer will send them clear messages about where they sit in the order of the pack.
Where and when should you and they eat?
As with sleeping, eat at a higher level than your dog to secure yourself as the leader of the Springer Spaniel pack. In the wild, an Alpha dog eats before the rest of the pack so you must try to enforce this in your home.
What I do with George to reinforce this is, before I give him his bowl of food, I pretend to eat from it, once that is done I put his bowl down and allow him to eat.
Even then, I will not allow George to start eating immediately. I tell him to wait for a few seconds before giving him the signal that he can start. This routine just reinforces the message that I am the Alpha and that he can relax, safe in the knowledge that I will protect the pack. but at each mealtime he knows I control the food
Start this young?
I would also suggest, when they are a puppy, to take away their bowl and their toys every now and again while they are eating or playing. By doing this you are reinforcing your position in the pack as you are entitled to their food or toys any time you want. Do not snatch from your dog though, and, at this stage, you must make sure that it is not a game for them, but pack reinforcement.
This will also ensure that your Springer is not food possesive during Springer Feeding and should a small child try to take food from your dog you won't get a negative reaction from your dog.
What if they challenge you?
Now there may be time when you go to take food from your Springer they may challenge you, you must react as a pack leader would. Grab him by the scruff of the neck, growl in as deep a voice as you can, and push his head to the floor. This is countering the challenge that your dog has made and reinstates you as the leader.
This may sound cruel, but a dog with no clear pack leader will be very unhappy. Domestic dogs are not happy in leadership roles, and you can create either a very aggressive or a very insecure dog if you do not fill this role for them.
Return to love springer spaniels homepage from Springer Feeding