By Sally Diamond, Freelance Contributor
A dog that won’t eat can be a worrying time for any owner and many will schedule an appointment to the vet to rule out an underlying issue. On average, dog owners are charged $378 a year by their vet for treating issues such as injured limbs, gastroenteritis and preventing flea and tick infestations. But, when they rule out any health concerns and diagnose your dog with being a fussy eater, how do you rise to the challenge of getting your pooch to eat?
Change your habits
Canines aren’t born being fussy eaters and in most cases their fussiness is a learnt behavior. Dogs which are regularly fed a raw meat diet or a freshly cooked meal of meat and vegetables aren’t going to take too kindly to suddenly being given an off the shelf dog food and you may find your dog refuses his new food. But, in time, he’ll adapt so long as you preserve and stop providing special meals to him. Feeding table scraps is an all too common occurrence in households up and down the country, however, your dog isn’t going to eat the new diet you’re offering him if he knows come dinner time, your leftovers will be thrown his way. Therefore, if you’re serious about changing your dog’s behavior to food, you need to change yours first.
Don’t give in
When your four legged friend is sitting at your feet, looking at you with his puppy dog eyes, it’s all too easy to throw away the bowl of dog food sitting in front of him and replace it with his favorite meal which you’ll know he’ll eat. However, as tempting as it is to give in, don’t, as you don’t want your dog to learn that by being stubborn, you’ll retreat and give him what he wants, so you need to stand your ground until he relents and eats the meal that you given him. Should you utilize the services of a doggy daycare service, ensure they are made aware that you want them to do the same during feeding times to avoid any slip ups.
Wait it out
A dog will never purposely starve itself. He may go a few days without eating to prove a point, but in the end his growling tummy will get the better of him and he’ll be begging you for whatever food you’ve got. Feed your hound his meals as normal, place them on the ground and walk away to let him eat. Then allow him him 10-20 minutes to finish the bowl of food before removing it. Make sure you don’t offer any further food until your pet is due his next feed and avoid giving treats altogether until his fussy eating habits are under control and ensure you get your dog trainer on board, too. Dog trainers tend to use treats to award dogs when they do well, however, if you feel this will be detrimental in dealing with your pet’s picky eating, let your trainer know that you’d prefer they reward your dog using alternative methods and they’ll happily oblige.
Millions of dog owners experience periods where their dog turns into a fussy eater. In many cases the cause is due to the behavior of the owner, therefore, you need to adjust your habits to deal with your pet’s pickiness. And whatever you do, don’t give in to your dog’s demands and always wait it out as your pooch will give in long before you do.