Alvin sticks out his tongue when he is nervous

Monday, May 28, 2012

Mealtime Shouldn't be This Complicated

Good grief!  Mealtime has become exhausting.  Alvin has the attention span of a gnat and it has become increasingly problematic during mealtimes.  Backing up for a minute, Stevie has started to be a light eater.  I thought she wasn't liking her food anymore so I changed it, but she often remains disinterested in eating.  I have found that if I put some food directly on the ground that she thinks it's a treat and will eat it.  So, now I measure out her food in in a bowl and then take handfuls and put it on the ground.  Meanwhile, Maddie, the cat thinks it's treat time and comes out and meows her head off until I take some of her food out of her dish and put it on the ground as well.  Then there's Alvin who drives me nuts during mealtimes.  He used to be so good at staying by his bowl and gobbling down his food.  I had never seen a dog eat so fast and I attributed his loud burps after mealtimes to having inhaled his food.  It turns out that he burps like a trucker no matter how quickly or slowly he eats his food.  He has recently started to leave his bowl anytime I move and the problem is that once he leaves his bowl, he can't remember where it is and then trots around the house trying to find his food.  If Stevie leaves her bowl, there's a noise, I make the mistake of moving, or Maddie meows, Alvin loses focus, runs around, and can't find his bowl until I go over, stand over his bowl, and put my hand in it so the food makes noise, while saying, "Alvin, here's your food."  I have no idea why this started but we have to go through this several times during each meal.  I tend to be internally impatient because it just seems so obvious to me.  On a few occasions, I waited to see how long it would take for him to find it but after watching him circle around thoroughly confused, I didn't have the heart to watch him struggle and so I get up and show him his food again.  I have started feeding them right next to me so that when he wanders away, I can quickly bend over and jingle his food again.  Stevie then often stops eating half way through and decides that she will indeed eat food out of a bowl, as long as it's Alvin's.  I have lost count of how many times I end up getting up, getting another bowl for Alvin, and starting over again, with about 90% of the time, Stevie losing interest in the food within seconds of me returning.  Then Alvin starts dancing between the bowls and eating out of each one of them.  The obvious solution would be to then take one of the bowls away but nearly every time I do so, Stevie decides she wants to eat of a bowl again and starts even Alvin's food, leaving him with none. 

Even when I put four or five pieces of Alvin's kibble on the floor as a treat for him, if I don't stand there until he is finished, he inevitably follows me and then can't remember where the treat is.  Even when I stand right there, inevitably something distracts him and his search for the food starts up.  To make matters more complicated, I changed their food to small pieces of kibble because I thought maybe Stevie had stopped eating her food because it was large pieces of kibble and maybe it was hard for her to eat because of her aging teeth.  I even started soaking her food, but it's now clear that her not eating isn't due to teeth issues.  So now I have small kibble and with all of Alvin's issues with chewing, he can't hold multiple pieces of the small kibble in his mouth and they end up falling out of his mouth.  It now takes him much longer to eat, which I would consider to be a good thing due to the past inhalation of food issues, but criminy, with his new wandering problem, it takes us so long to get through one meal.  He then has a second meal finding all the pieces of kibble scattered all over the floor.  We are going back to the bigger pieces of kibble and if this continues, I am going to force Alvin to eat in on the bed because he can't get down and will have a much smaller space to hunt for his food when he loses it.  My life and my house have been taken over by three, very "unique" little beings and one doesn't even have to ask the question, who has trained who, because the answer is so darned obvious.

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