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How to Teach a Puppy or Dog to Wait for His Food

Note: I wrote this post shortly after we got our puppy Remy.

One of the challenges we’ve had with our puppy is how crazy he gets when we feed him.

He’s so excited he barks and jumps and basically panics in anticipation.

Like, “Oh my God, I’m going to die if I don’t eat all this food right now in 3 seconds!”

I hear this is normal puppy behavior, but it’s annoying to say the least.

I was getting really frustrated with my puppy Remy during his mealtimes. I knew I should teach him to wait for his food but he wouldn’t even sit still for 1 second!

Then … it clicked.

I read on the blog Puppy in Training the important piece I was missing!

Remy the puppy waiting for his food

From Puppy in Training:

Hold your puppy by his collar by slipping your thumb in his collar and set his food about two feet away. As soon as he stops wiggling, say the words “O.K.” and release your puppy.

Read the whole post here. (Scroll down to “Puppy’s First Feeding.”) Also, here is a video of puppy in training “Dublin” working on waiting for his food.

I seriously never would’ve thought of making it that simple. Release the puppy as soon as he stops wiggling.

It’s too much to expect them to wait for even 1 second at first!

Now … if only my food crazed cat Beamer could get the memo!

Do you think this would work with a 13-year-old nutty cat?

How to teach a dog to wait for his food

How to teach your puppy to wait for his food

Note: Unless your other pets are well behaved, I would keep them in a separate room while you work on this with your puppy.

Days 1-2: Hold his collar and release the moment he relaxes.

Days 3-4: Add some cues. I told Remy “sit, “wait” and “OK!” At this point he only waited for a split second.

Days 5-6: Use a leash. Have him sit, and then step on the leash to hold him back while you set the food down. If he tries to jump up the leash will remind him to sit. When he stays relaxed for 1 second, release with “OK!”

Days 7+: Increase the “wait” time to 2-3 seconds, then 5, 10, etc. We’re currently at about 15 seconds.

Ongoing: Increase the wait time to 30 seconds, 45 seconds, etc., and try without a leash.

That’s my plan anyway, and this can work with adult dogs too. They might just be a little noisier and stubborn since they’re set in their ways.

Teach your dog to wait for his food

How to teach a dog to wait quietly while you prepare the food

I could use some help on this.

How do I keep Remy calm while I’m getting the food ready? He barks in his kennel as I’m filling his bowl. So should I just ignore him until he’s quiet? That could take forever.

Am I expecting too much at this point?

Probably. Let me know what you think!

Does your dog or puppy know to wait for his food?

How to teach a puppy to wait for his food

Related posts:

How to stop a dog from begging for his own meals

Puppy’s first night home (from Puppy in Training)

What rules to teach a puppy first?

What to do if your dog is a picky eater

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How to teach a puppy to wait for food | PetPace

Tuesday 22nd of September 2020

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Saturday 4th of June 2016

Have you tried susan garretts "it's your choice" game or mary ellen barrys "rule outs" game? Both these work on the same principle of teaching the dog self control. You can use this principle to teach manners for any number of things, such as going through doors, crate training, staying on a mat, and staying calm around meal time. Its also such a great game because a sit becomes the default behaviour the dog or puppy will present any time he/she wants something. it stops people over using commands so that when they are needed they are meaningful. it also becomes the dogs response that controls the situation and you then don't have to worry about what your dog will get into as he will naturally start to "ask" if he wants the food or to get out/in. It's also really fun to watch the dogs response when it clicks that they are in control of the reward! this game is also really amazing because even the most "stubborn" of dogs works out the rules within the first session and it becomes a quicker and quicker responses every time if the handlers are consistent.

Lindsay Stordahl

Saturday 4th of June 2016

That sounds like fun! Do you have a link?

Gloria Mahoney

Friday 6th of May 2016

Hi Lindsay, new to your site and blog, really enjoy and learning. Thank you. As for this blog, you mentioned feeding in their crate. What about placing his crate in an area where he is unable to see what you are doing.? Don't latch his crate because he may think he's being punished for something. That's HIS safe house; to sleep, relax, play with toys, protection and to eat in ( just in the training phase. If he cries, barks, howls, etc. just ignore him. If Remy leaves his crate, tell him NO and lead him back to his crate and tell him STAY. This might take a few trips back to his crate and some loving patience. Once he is quiet and has stayed even for just a few seconds then quickly reward with his bowl of food and tell him he's a Good Boy. Walk away and allow him to eat. Only allow HIM to eat HIS food in HIS crate. With my experience, you're not only teaching him to remain calm and wait patiently and quietly for his food, you're also teaching him that it's on your terms and not his; that just because he's being vocal and basically telling you he wants his food right now. You are the ALPHA. He cannot be allowed to remain or become the ALPHA DOG. Through the whole process you are also reiterating to him that his crate is his safe haven. It's REMY's CASTLE! As soon as he's done eating remove his bowl from the crate. Place his water dish in a localized neutralized area, whether it's just for him or other dogs as well if you have more than 1 dog. Depending on how temperamental your dog is, you should only have to crate feed your dog like this for a few days. Dogs are very smart and he will pick up on what you expect of him and then you can put his feed dish wherever you want. He's learning to remain calm and quiet and also to not beg while you are making time to and preparing his food. If you have a dog that is skittish, has separation anxiety or if other dogs bully yours, you can even continue to feed him in his crate, just make sure to remove his bowl as soon as he is done eating. Remember, never lock him in his crate. This has done very well for me and has worked with several breeds and many different temperaments. Also, never make your dog feel like he's a BAD DOG. You're just re-enforcing habitual behavior to acceptable good behavior. Dogs want to make us happy. I hope some of this helped.

Lindsay Stordahl

Friday 6th of May 2016

Yes very helpful. He is able to hear me getting the food no matter where his crate is. His crate is in a spare bedroom now. I really don't think he is capable of staying in there on his own while I prepare his food at this point. I think he would keep barging out 100 times. But maybe I'm not giving him enough credit. Currently I latch the crate to keep him in and bring the food when he stops yapping. Usually takes him 5 to 10 mins to quiet.


Wednesday 4th of May 2016

well Okami figured out the whole sit and wait for food thing really fast. Now granted she was ~18 months old when I rescued her so its a bit of a different situation. She also has a tendency to chew her food rather than just inhale her kibble. As a matter of fact I think the main way I have been feeding her recently (as in most of the time for months) reinforces that behavior actually. I have one of the larger hard plastic Kong toys that twists open for "loading" I have been putting 2 3/4 cup scoops of food (~1.5 cups total) in the toy and then set it on the floor for her to play with. if (when) she is hungry she starts nosing and pawing it around the room, and a few pieces of kibble fall out whenever the opening is down. she usually has "most" of the food out within 15-30 min, which tells me as far as the "puzzle" aspects are concerned that part has long since been solved by her, its more of a "gimmie my food... toy" at this point.

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 5th of May 2016

I should probably get a toy like that for Remy. I do have one of the normal Kongs that would at least slow him down a little.


Wednesday 4th of May 2016

My boxer will wait for his food until I release with "ok", and I know he would wait forever because I once got distracted talking to my kids and didn't release him (oops!!). I went to feed the cats (on a different floor of the house) and when I came back to the kitchen 5 minutes later, he was still sitting in the kitchen, by himself waiting patiently to be released!! That's the day I knew I did a good job with his wait command! But I did feel terrible for the poor guy...

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 5th of May 2016

What a good dog! That is really impressive!