Getting the right routine established for your puppy or dog to follow at meal times is an easy way for anyone in the family to convey leadership- especially to a young dog. Yes you can eventually teach a puppy to wait or stay just by holding them back, but this is not the most efficient technique nor is it the recommended method used by good modern trainers. Instead we advocate working on teaching the puppy self-control. To get what they want (permission to eat) they learn through patience, not pushiness. With this technique even pre-schoolers, under close supervision, can be involved in a daily routine.
How do you achieve this? Initially the bowl is a guide to get your pup to sit by moving it above their head so they look up as you say a cue “sit.” Then introduce “Wait” or “Stay” Your other hand might also add a “wait” cue by making a stop sign as you start to lower the bowl towards the ground on the other side of your body. Then if the puppy remains sitting (say as you lower to waist height) mark the good behaviour with a “Yes” and give the puppy something FROM THE BOWL. Lift it above their head and start again – going lower over several repetitions until it gets to the ground and you would let the puppy know they can have the jackpot with an “Okay” or “Eat.”
But if they get up as the bowl is lowered then immediately lift it back over their head and say sit/wait. Like a see-saw as puppy’s butt lifts off the ground the bowl comes up out of reach and above their head. But if the butt stays on the ground the bowl gets lower. Once this is familiar with adult family members let the youngsters also practice.
With puppies it is also recommended that feeding is done inside – in the kitchen or near the hub of family activities. This is to help avoid resource guarding issues later – since it becomes clear to then no-one wants to steal their food and activity or movement around it can be ignored. Adding an extra tidbit as you pass sometimes adds an even better association. Then as the pup grows if it is necessary to change routines the basics are properly put in place.