What is it?
Scatter feeding means not giving your dog their meal in a bowl – they have to hunt or forage for it.
Why do it?
Bowls are boring. Scatter feeding uses your dog’s natural instincts. It prevents them from scoffing their food down in 2 seconds flat. Gives them a job to do. It keeps them occupied for longer.
If you usually use puzzles and ball feeders, but find yourself short on time, scatter feeding is a quick way to give your dog their meal in a way that is still enriching for them.
Giving our dogs enrichment makes their lives better. Improving our dogs quality of life can also make an impact on any behaviour problems they may have.
Dogs see the world through their nose. Smelling their primary sense and it is really important to them. You could say that sniffing makes dogs happy.
How to do it?
Food needs to be spread out, or scattered, in a way that your dog should be sniffing, hunting or foraging for it.
Snuffle mats are a great way to feed your dog if you are using dry food.
If you don’t have a snuffle mat, keeping a patch of grass in the yard especially for feeding can do the trick.
Feeding your dog biscuits? Worst case throw a handful on the ground. Your dog will need to use their nose to find where all of their food ran off to.
Note for beginners: If your dog hasn’t had much experience with enrichment, they haven’t had to work for their food before and are used to it coming straight out of a bowl then start easy! Just place their food on a hard surface (tiles, concrete) scattered in no more than a 50cm diameter. As your dog becomes used to looking for their food, start to increase the search area. Then you can use grass.
When your dog is a pro you’ll be able to fling their food out and they’ll know how to hunt for it.
Note for multi-dog households: If you have an issue with resource guarding – continue to feed dogs separately. You do not want to create fights over food.
Want to learn more?
To find more creative ways to feed your dog and give them an enriched happy life – check out the online course “Enrichment for dogs”