Having a picky dog isn’t uncommon. Although a healthy pooch will usually wolf down their food, there are many reasons why your dog might be a fussy eater.
If you are concerned about your dog’s behaviour, make sure to visit their vet. It’s im-paw-tent to rule out any underlying conditions that could be causing your dog’s picky eating such as sickness, allergies, or dietary intolerances.
Some dogs skip meals without any cause and only occasionally miss meals. So what should you do if your dog is a fussy eater?
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR DOG IS A FUSSY EATER?
- Be calm and patient. If you’re stressed your dog will be too.
- Make sure your dog feels safe
- Avoid distractions
- Keep a regular routine
- Stay in the room with your dog, but ignoring them (A reassuring presence can help.)
- Leave your dog with their food for 15 minutes
- If your dog doesn’t eat during that time or walks away, remove their food.
- Only try feeding them again at their next mealtime.
- Reduce their food. Some dogs can be put off if there’s too much in their bowl. Plus, if they’re not completely full they’re more likely to eat regularly.
- Use warm water in Pure (It works a treat!)
- Make mealtimes exciting EG: Stuffing a Kong with Pure
WHAT YOU SHOULDN'T DO
- Don’t offer homecooked food
- Don’t give them treats between meals
- Don’t switch their food suddenly, always transition slowly
- Avoid hand-feeding your dog
Consistency is key when trying to correct your dog’s behaviour. A hungry dog will eat, and skipping meals will not starve them. (In fact, healthy dogs can go for days without food.)
But by offering alternatives like treats and scraps, you will reinforce the fasting behaviour because it’s teaching your dog that if they skip meals you will give them a higher value (and less healthy) food instead.
Your dog will obviously be more interested in treats because they are treats, and your dog values these more. It’s no different to how you would probably choose a piece of cake over a snack of raw vegetables.
Hand-feeding can encourage your dog to eat, but it can also reinforce fasting because it “rewards” your dog with a lot of your attention. If you’ve handfed your dog, they might start acting fussy to earn that special time with you, rather than it actually being about their food. Follow the tips above instead to try and encourage your dog to eat.