Is your dog a fussy eater? Does your dog refuse to eat when comes meal time? Many dog owners don’t know what to do with such a dog. They wonder how they can get their dogs to be interested in eating their food?
Sometimes a dog owner may mistakenly thinks that the dog is fussy with his meals when the problem is something else. Other times, a dog becomes fussy with his food because his owner has been unwittingly training him to be so.
Whether you’re feeding your dog commercial dog food, or homemade dog food, there are a few things to keep in mind so you don’t end up with a fussy dog:
Don’t over-feed your dog
Dogs should be fed once a day when they are no longer puppies. Or fed two smaller meals in a day, and no more. Feeding your dog too frequently when he is older can make him look like a fussy eater, when he is actually full.
Feeding your dog too regularly can get him into the routine of expecting to eat at those times, too. This may lead to weight gain. Letting him get hungry, and feeding sensibly, will not harm him. In the wild, dogs would eat for once a day until they were completely full.
Don’t stand there and stare
Don’t stand and stare at your dog, waiting for him to eat. He will likely think that something is wrong, or something else is coming, and he won’t eat.
Don’t give in too quickly
Don’t give in to your dog and give him something else straight away if he refuses his meal. If you do, then he’s effectively training you and not the other way around!
Don’t keep changing his food
There’s nothing wrong with feeding your dog a varied diet. But don’t keep changing the food because he seems fussy and won’t eat it. Make sure nothing is wrong with him physically first, then if he is healthy, take charge of the situation.
Put his food down, leave him to eat it. Then 30 minutes later, go and check to see whether it’s been eaten. If it hasn’t, take it away.
At the end of the day, put down some fresh food for him. Repeat the process. Take it away 30 minutes later if it’s still not eaten. This way you’ll train your dog to eat his food, and not reinforce his behavior.
An interesting strategy to get your dog to eat
Brian Kilcommons has a very interesting method for teaching dogs to eat their food. When the above fails, he prepared the dog food in front of the dog, making lots of ‘yummy’ noises whilst he did it.
He made it slowly, and when the dog still wasn’t interested, he put it down in front of his face, then took it straight away and threw it out.
He did this first at breakfast, then again at dinner. At dinner, the dog in question was more interested, but he still threw it out after putting it in front of him.
The next morning, the dog was jumping up and down whilst the food was being prepared. He put it down, pulled it away, then looked at the dog for about a minute, then left it for him to eat. That dog now eats anything put down for him.
The problem may be somewhere else
If your dog suddenly goes off his food, it could be because he has dental problems, or a stomach problem. Get him checked out by the vet.
Your dog may have a certain preference
Some dogs do actually prefer a certain type of food, just as people do. Try your dog with a variety of foods, and if he only eats one type, and will starve himself if he doesn’t get it, the best solution can simply be to feed him that type of food.
Avoid a high fat diet
Don’t feed your dog a high fat diet, or junk food, including chocolate. It’s not good for them and will damage their appetite.