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December 19th, 2014

Creating a dog-friendly meal experience

Mealtime is going…well, to the dogs – literally. Dumping kibble into a bowl and walking away has become less and less the norm. Feeding the family dog has evolved into new territory. For example, have you ever warmed your dog’s food in the microwave before serving it to him? You wouldn’t be alone if you have. Maybe you and your dog have a mealtime ritual? Again, you would be in good company.

A 2012 online survey of dog owners by Chef Michael’s brand food for dogs indicated that when feeding their dog, their mealtime rituals included: mixing wet and dry food together (33 percent) and preparing food, such as measuring, chopping and heating (28 percent). The newest trend to pop up in doggy mealtime? Food trucks.

Food trucks are increasing in popularity in many U.S. cities, so tailoring that experience to our four-legged friends seems like a logical next step. However, with 78.2 million dogs living as pets in the U.S. according to the 2011-2012 American Pet Products Association National Pet Owners Survey, there simply aren’t enough pet-friendly food trucks available to serve them. Enter Chef Michael’s to lead the charge with a new type of food truck for dogs.

“We love the food truck trend, but dogs have largely been left out,” says Sarah BonDurant, spokesperson for Chef Michael’s. “Food trucks aren’t just for people. We want every dog to share and enjoy the food truck experience with their owners.”

And as it turns out, many dog owners agree. That same online survey by Chef Michael’s indicated that nearly 59 percent of dog owners surveyed have patronized food trucks for themselves. In addition, 48 percent would likely take their dog to lunch or dinner at a food truck that provided food for dogs if there was one in their neighborhood.

The Chef Michael’s food truck for dogs is currently rolling through the U.S. providing thoughtful meal experiences for dogs. You can find out if it will be in your neighborhood by following @thefoodfordogs on Twitter or visiting facebook.com/foodfordogs. If the Chef Michael’s food truck isn’t going to make it to your hometown, all hope is not lost for a mobile mealtime experience for you and your dog. There is a sweepstakes that will award 25 food trucks across the nation a $ 1,000 cash prize to help make dog-friendly improvements to their existing truck among other prizes. Visit www.foodtruckfordogssweeps.com for complete Official Rules and additional information.

Have you visited a food truck for dogs and want to continue that a special experience for you and your dog at home? Here are a few quick tips that can help you make mealtime for your dog just as special as your own.

* Create a routine to fit with your mealtimes. Feed your dog at regularly scheduled times, such as when the family is having breakfast or dinner so they feel included.

* Turn meal time into a bonding experience. Develop a ritual where you spend some quality one-on-one time with your dog before or after the meal.

* Use mealtime to teach your dog a new trick. Nineteen percent of dog owners surveyed make their dog(s) do a trick before eating.

* Relax and go for a walk after dinner. There’s no better way for your dog to savor the sights and sounds of your community than on an evening walk.

Dogs are a part of the family and deserve the best. Whether it’s establishing a regular routine or visiting a dog-friendly food truck, meal time shouldn’t be a daily chore.

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