At one point or another in our dog-owning lives, many of us are faced with the dilemma of dealing with a picky eater. Sometimes a dog is simply not food motivated. At other times the problem is actually caused by us, the owners.
Generally speaking, smaller dogs tend to be pickier eaters than larger breeds. Was there ever a healthy Labrador Retriever that wasn’t food motivated? Not likely! However, regardless of size or breed, picky eaters can be a conundrum for their owners. Here are some tips on how to feed a picky dog.
First Things First
A dog that is unwell, for any reason, may refuse to eat. If your canine buddy is normally a consistently good eater, be sure to rule out possible medical issues that may be the cause of sudden picky eating.
Set Some Rules
When you are dealing with a picky eater it’s important to set some household rules that the entire family agrees to abide by. Changing a dog’s eating habits is no easy task, and it takes the co-operation of everyone in the house to effect changes for the better.
Don’t Over-Indulge Your Pet
Often a picky eater will be the result of over-indulgence on the part of their owners. Feeding from your dining table or giving treats all day long will dull your dog’s appetite and, in the end, cause them to turn up their nose at plain dog food. After all, who wouldn’t prefer a tasty morsel of human food to a bowl of kibble?
Top Tip: Cut out excessive treating, and under no circumstances offer any sort of ‘human’ food to your pooch during the day, or from your dining table or kitchen while you are cooking.
The general rule of thumb should be to offer a treat no more than two or three times a day, preferably when you are training or your dog does a trick or something that pleases you. Put two or three treats in a special container that everyone in the house knows about, and once the container is empty that’s it for that day.
Set a Feeding Schedule
While some dog owners tend to free feed – leaving food down for their dogs non-stop – setting a feeding schedule and sticking to it may help you convince your canine buddy that eating promptly is a good idea if he doesn’t want to go hungry. Feeding two smaller meals a day rather than one large one can make a difference. Give the dog 15 minutes to clean up his meal and if he doesn’t, pick it up. He will soon figure out what is going on.
Think About Where Your Dog Eats
Some dogs are very sensitive to activity around them when they are eating. Additionally, other dogs in the household who are more dominant may send out signals that prompt your picky eater to walk away from his food. In cases like this it’s a good idea to provide a quiet area free of distractions for your pooch. Our dogs were always fed in their crates, where they felt secure and were not threatened or bothered by activity or other dogs.
Should I Add ‘Extras’ to My Dog’s Meals?
Many people turn to adding tasty extras to their dog’s food to encourage them to eat. Chicken broth, canned food or special flavour-enhanced toppers can all be helpful in encouraging a dog to consume kibble. Just be sure not to make the ‘extras’ the main part of the meal, thereby unbalancing the diet. Sometimes a simple change in the brand or type of kibble can have the same results, with no additions needed. We have always fed a good balanced kibble mixed only with warm water, which brings out all the enticing smells in the food. So, start with that if your pooch isn’t keen on straight dry food, and go from there.
Consistency is Key
Remember, for dogs consistency is more important than variety when it comes to food. If you hit on a formula that works stick with it, and don’t keep changing things. The important thing is to convince your dog to eat a well-balanced diet, kibble or canned, on a regular basis. Consistency on your part will bring about consistency on his.
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