Retraining the fussy eater I've created(10 Posts)
I realise it's my fault, but 18 months in and my dog is now a very fussy eater. I feed her Millie's Wolfheart, and I know she likes it because she eats heartily once she gets her own way (unlike Lily's Kitchen which she picked at unenthusiastically).
My fault: I've been too soft. I've switched several brands, I've picked meals up and replaced them with tastier meals to get her to eat, I've put food down and then when she's refused to eat it I've eventually added chicken or fish to the bowl, I've made games out of the food - getting her to 'hunt' it and so on, I've chased her round the house to get her to her bowl, I've spoon-fed her ... you get the picture.
She has a fantastic recall, but totally ignores me if I call her for her dinner. She backs away from her bowl (in horror), she'll run to another room if she sees me putting her food out. She won't eat a meal voluntarily without a big palaver.
No health issues - I've had her checked - I've just created a fussy little monster with the spoon feeding and replacing food with something tastier etc.
I've done some research and have come across the following advice. Is this a sensible approach? She always leaves the room when I put her dinner out. Should I shut the door so she has no choice but to stay in the same room as the food so she at least is aware it's there for her? Should I say anything/introduce a new command for her dinner?
1. Measure out the food and then place the bowl down for your dog to eat from. If he doesn't eat the food or only eats some then after 15 minutes the bowl should be lifted and then no more food given until the next feeding time.
2. It is very important to ensure that no treats or titbits are given in between meals whilst establishing a good routine, otherwise dogs can fill up on these and not only does it mean they are less likely to eat their food, but it also means they are not getting a good nutritious balance.
That is a sensible approach, one that works in most cases. I wouldn't bother shutting your dog in the same room or adding a new command, just call her as normal and if she doesn't want her food take it up after 15 minutes. She should learn very quickly that she has to eat when you say or she has to wait until the next meal.
Thanks Deadnettle. The only problem with that is if I call her she'll ignore me and remain in a different room ... so she might not realise the food is even there?
I usually give her two meals a day: one dry food and one wet food. She prefers wet food, so if I pick up the dry food after the alloted 15 minutes, and then the next meal is wet food, is she going to think she's got her own way and ended up with a better meal? Or should I put dry food down again for the second meal and forego the wet food?
She is very likely to know the food is there so I wouldn't worry. She will hear you preparing it and may even smell it.
I don't have experience of feeding wet and dry food seperately so I think you may have to try and see what works. If it were me I would try it as you normally feed her as she will still miss a meal if she refuses the dry food.
If she completely misses a meal DO NOT feed extra at the next meal as this won't help her learn to eat what and when you want.
Thanks. Ok, giving it a try starting tomorrow!
I'd go with the advice given. Maybe switch to one meal per day, preferably after main walk to replicate wild wolf behaviour. Hunt, eat & sleep!
Please always remember, a well cared for pet dog won't come to harm if it skips a meal or two. Good luck, mine are regularly putting their nose up at dogs dinners! Although I take great care in soaking, mixing and serving at same time most days...
We feed dry in the morning and mix of wet and dry at night. She is a bit fussy and sometimes doesn't eat all the kibble (not helped by them changing the shape so it's harder for her to bite it, small mouth....)
Breakfast gets left down as she'll quite often finish it after a walk or a treat.
Dinner usually gets left down and is often eaten by morning.
Currently works as she's the only dog but will change when other dog arrives in april. But at boarding she eats as there are other dogs around.
And no, we don't provide alternatives! Mostly 'eat it if you like, or go hungry' although occasionally a splash of human gravy works wonders. She gets enough, as is healthy weight but does occasionally more or less skip meals
These are just my thoughts but are you SURE the food is working out for her? I moved my eldest onto Aatu because I thought all the extra protein would be good for her. She definitely liked the taste but after a week or so she started to back away from her bowl and seemed nervous to eat it- I changed to a 50/50 meat/veg kibble and she's never done it since.
I concluded that the Aatu didn't suit her - was never sure why.
Your dog will know there is food there (unless you live in a mansion!), they will hear you put it out and will smell it (I can open and take things out of my fridge 20 times a day and our dog wont move, as soon as I even touch the cheese, even if he was sleeping upstairs, he is sitting by the door in seconds!)
Put the food down and pick up if not eaten. She will learn very quickly.
My 2 went on hunger strike after Christmas because the turkey scraps stopped appearing in their bowls (I feed dry with a little tinned mixed in). On day 3 they capitulated because they weren't going to win!
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