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wildpotato's avatar

How do I stop my dog from caching food when we go backpacking?

Asked by wildpotato (13930 points ) September 23rd, 2012 from iPhone

She was a stray as a puppy, and has always taken her first few mouthfuls of kibble to eat in various spots around the house.

The problem is that when I take her backpacking for a few days, she’ll actually bury the mouthfuls at two or three spots around the camp. This is bad for two reasons: it means we’re carrying more weight in kibble than she really needs, and more importantly, this can attract bears!

I know that scolding will make her more anxious, and have not done this. Does anyone have suggestions? My one thought is that I can mark the spots and dig them up later myself, after she eats dinner and I put away the kibble for the night, but it would be much better to stop the behavior all together.

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9 Answers

Kayak8's avatar

I hand feed, one kibble at a time, in this case.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

My dogs were abandoned and just barely survived when they were young. They never really got over their food issues, even after they were with me for over 12 years. other than what Kayak8 suggested I don’t have any ideas.

Coloma's avatar

I think the only thing you can do is feed her under strict supervision, as much as she will eat from your hands in a sitting. You could also confine her to the tent, or tie her during meals to prevent caching. As @Adirondackwannabe said, I too have had experiences with animals and food issues. I used to care for a rescue mare that was half starved from having to compete for little feed with other horses.

Even after years of plentiful food she still became extremely aggressive and bold during feeding time and had to be the first one in the barn where her feed was waiting in her stall, or she would wreak havoc kicking and biting and charging the other horses and was dangerous to humans as well.
She was a docile and sweet horse apart from her food issues but you did not want to get in her way at feeding time, she’d mow you down.

DrBill's avatar

Hand feeding will stop it, but it has to be consistent, not just while camping.

Kayak8's avatar

I agree with @DrBill. The handfeeding consistently will train the puppy that food is plentiful, but comes only from you.

wildpotato's avatar

Thanks for your answers, guys. I will try the handfeeding. It will take some work – Molly is seven years old and currently free-fed, but half-Lab so very trainable.

Kayak8's avatar

@wildpotato I think, over time, you will find great benefits from hand-feeding. It certainly calmed my German Shepherd at feeding time. He now knows he will be fed and has really chilled out at dinner time.

RocketGuy's avatar

My brother-in-law accidentally gave my dog double portions for a week. The last day, he stopped eating. When I came back from vacation I found him lying on his bed with a round belly. It took him 2 more days to digest all that food in his stomach. He never finished his bowl after that – he learned that there will always be food, no need to hoard.

Kayak8's avatar

@RocketGuy That does not work for many breeds and some breeds will develop torsion and it can be fatal.

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