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Gesture Eating – [Golden Rule No.1] The Pack Leader Controls The Food

Why the food is the most valuable resource to your dog, how you can use it to become the pack leader and the ways that your dog will try to outwit you!

Gesture Eating In Practice:

Showing your dog that you are the pack leader using a technique called “gesture eating.”


If your dog is aggressive around food:

Great carefulness needs to be taken when feeding your dog. Children should always dog’s if they are around the dogs with any food. If you have a dog who is aggressive around food, then the technique below could be used to give an even clearer message to your dog that you are the pack leader and control the food.


If you have more than one dog:

This video demonstrates how to feed two dogs who may be aggressive towards each other around food. Never take chances with dogs and food. The stakes are very high for dogs and food is one of the most common causes of fights between dogs in the same home. If in doubt keep your dogs apart when feeding.


Pack leader controls the bones:

This video explicates how important it is to control any good chew toys such as bones, pigs ears, dental chews, and rawhide.


FAQ around Food:



Proceed to Rule No.2 =>

<= Go Back to Introduction

Bones, pigs ears, and raw hide:

Bones, pigs ears, and rawhide are food to a dog…so it is crucial that You, the pack leaders control them. This simply means that you simply pick them up after your dog walks away from them, or if your dog tries to hide them you stop them or pick them up! When a dog controls the food or has food lying around, they are in control of it. Very often an old dry bone can be all a dog needs to be in control of the food.

If you are using a little rubber toy stuffed with peanut butter and biscuits be aware of whether or not your dog is eating them or is leaving them in the toy. If your dog is leaving them, then pick them up. Likewise with the balls with biscuits in that they can push around. If your dog is leaving them in the toy, then pick the toy up.

You can give your dog a bone, but you should pick it up immediately after they walk away from it. Maybe you will need to give it to them in a confined space or when they are tied up to prevent them from hiding and burying the bone. If you have bones lying around then pick them all up and toss them away.

Your dog will not tell you that some of their unwanted behavior is linked to the fact that they are controlling the food. However, I have witnessed it first hand, many times

Toys, on the other hand, are not food so you can leave these down.

Gesture eating summary:

  1. Gesture eat (eat a piece of bread, cookie or cracker) before putting the bowl down for your dog
  2. Remove the bowl as quickly as your dog walks away from the food. (Not necessary if it has eaten all the food)


  • Always withdraw the bowl immediately – never leave it down for even a second if your dog has left any food in it
  • It will work best if everyone in the household takes a turn at gesture eating at some time during the week
  • After a few months of everything going well continue to remove the bowl! Afterward a rule for life


Some Burning Q&A

Q: Is it OK to leave the bowl down if my dog has eaten all the food?

A: Yes

Q: My dog walked away and lost all its food…when does it get to try again?

A: If your dog walks away from its food then you do not give it the food back until its next scheduled mealtime. It is probably best if you usually only feed once a day to change to twice per day morning and evening so that your dog doesn’t have to wait 24 hours for another try.

Q: How long can my dog last without food?

A: So long as your dog is good health then it can survive several days without food. However, you are going to put food down at least once per day! Remember you just offered it food but your dog turned its nose up and walked away! Either your dog is not hungry or it is not eating because it wants to control the food. Always leave water down for your dog.

Q: How long do we have to do this for?

A: You should gesture eat (eating some food before putting it down) until your dogs behavior improves. Then you can cut it down over time to 2-3 times per week and then 1 few times per month. You can always bring it back as your dog grows up or your dog starts to play up again. However, you never leave food down again for your dog ever again. If your dog walks away you pick it up immediately. That rule goes on for the rest of your dog’s life.

Q: My dog keeps Jumping up and Barking when I gesture eat?

A: This means that your dog is taking notice of what you are doing! If your dog is out of control and jumping up and barking then calmly put the food down on a surface high out of reach of your dog and walk away without a word. Return 5 minutes later and repeat. Continue until your dog is calm before putting the bowl down.

Q: My dog eats all his food when I put it down…does this mean it hasn’t worked?

A: No, if your dog eats the food that is a good sign and the significance of what you have done will not be lost on them. It is very hard to measure the impact it has on them but you should continue to gesture eat until there is a marked improvement in their behavior

Q: My dog takes the biscuits one at a time outside to eat them what should I do?

A: Simply remove the bowl as soon as your dog walks away.

Q: Do we leave water down?

A: Always leave clean fresh water down for your dogs. Dogs can die within 24 hours in extreme conditions without water.

Q: Is it okay to feed the dog at the table.

A: Never feed your dog at the table. Think about it-what message are you giving your dog? Many dogs like to eat even a tiny piece of food when you are eating so that you are not eating before them! If you want to feed your dogs healthy scraps after wards then that is fine. Collect them up and feed them to your dog afterward. Dogs are creatures of habits, if you feed them once then they will be waiting the next time and the next! Start as you mean to go on.

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