Dump the Dish!
Put your dog’s dinner kibble in their bowl. Pick the bowl up. Walk to an open space in your house, like a hallway or the middle of the living room.
Now dump the bowl out on the floor. Spread it over a good 3-4 foot radius.
I’m serious. Dump it out in the middle of your house. Let your dog clean up the mess.
This can feel kind of liberating the first time you do it, like the first time you were left alone at home for a day as a kid and you had only potato chips for lunch and dinner and nobody stopped you. You do what you want!
Or it can be anxiety-inducing. You did just make a small mess—but hey, life is a just series of messes, isn’t it? If this stresses you out, then maybe tossing food all over your floor isn’t a long-term solution. But try it once, at least, as an experiment.
Watch your dog eat. Are they determined, methodical searchers? Are they frantically excited? Are they ruthlessly efficient, leaving no crumb behind? Are they slow and careful, picking up each kibble and chewing it before finding the next one? Watch them eat. Pretend it’s a nature documentary and you’ve never seen this animal before. Observe. Tell them they’re doing a good job.
Look out for kibble rolling under furniture and appliances, and please, don’t slip on it. If you have more than one dog, do this one at a time, with the other dog put away somewhere out of view. The sight of a giant pile of food on the floor free for the taking might set off some defensive part of your dog’s brain, and we don’t want any fights breaking out. We also don’t want a competition to see who can Hoover up the most kibble before it’s gone. No fighting and no choking! Good times ONLY!