Feeding Your Puppy: How to Utilize Mealtimes

March 1, 2022

Best ways to feed puppy

Having a new puppy can be an exciting and overwhelming time! There is so much that goes into being a new owner, but did you know that using their meals as part of their training can help them down the line? Food for dogs is like their paycheck and making them work a little for it can be a great way to set them up for future training in their lives. Training uses mental and physical energy, and a tired puppy is a good puppy! So for your puppy’s next meal, try one of these new feeding routines.

Hand Feeding

Hand feeding your dog is a super beneficial way to give them their meals. Hand feeding allows your puppy to practice taking food from someone’s hand, which is helpful when others want to give them a treat. This way of feeding can also help you and your new puppy bond. Every time your puppy eats from your hand, you are being paired with something they like- food! This can be extremely rewarding for children as well. They learn how to gently interact and give food to the puppy, and the puppy learns how to take it gently and at will. It’s a great way to get the puppy ready to work for their food and for the whole family to help out. 

To start, grab a handful of kibble, then, lure your puppy into a seated position by slowly moving your hand to the puppy’s nose and up and back slightly, and feed! Puppies love to learn and they will quickly pick up this new skill. Once your puppy is taking food easily inside, try moving your mealtimes outside in the yard, very slowly increasing distractions like noises, people, and other dogs. This might be difficult in the beginning, but having your puppy eat in multiple situations will set them up for training in those same situations later!

In Their Crate

Using your puppy’s meal as a way to get them more comfortable in their crate can be extremely helpful in crate training. New environments can be scary for little puppies, and for those that want to be around their humans all the time, crate training can cause some distress. When meals are fed on the crate floor (no bowl), your puppy will be making a good association between being in their crate because it will be paired with food. Once they are eating their kibble easily, you can put it into a Kong toy to make it more challenging. Feeding in their crate can even help with separation anxiety.

Interactive Toys/Puzzles

Feeding your puppy out of an interactive toy such as Kong is a great way to keep your little one entertained! Start out easy and let the food loosely fall out of your puppy’s toy. Once they get the hang of pushing it around or holding it, move on to loosely packed food covered by a thin layer of peanut butter or plain greek yogurt. Continue slowly increasing the difficulty until your puppy can handle a semi-frozen Kong – a great way to add a frozen snack during the summers! You can get creative with your Kong stuffing recipes by adding in goodies like blueberries, green beans, applesauce, the options are endless! 


Using your puppy’s meals to make good associations with new places and situations is a great way to help your puppy work for their food, but we also love using meals in preventative resource guarding exercises. This teaches your puppy that food does not have to be guarded, and that good things can happen when people or dogs approach them while eating. To do this, when your puppy is eating out of their bowl, have a tasty treat ready and remove the bowl and give the puppy the treat right away. This will make a positive association between people taking things away and getting something in return. Then, return the bowl of food to your puppy, and repeat a few times. Starting early with these exercises will set your puppy up for success. 

Using these feeding routines will set your puppy up for training and we can’t wait to help you out on your training journey. From puppy obedience, manners, chewing, housebreaking, and greeting dogs and people, Beyond the Dog as you covered. For more puppy training tips, check out our other puppy blog posts or learn about our puppy training programs to get started!