Let me start with a few facts about dogs -
It defies the laws of nature for a dog to starve itself to death.
If left to their own devices dog would scavenge to satisfy not only their appetite but their nutritional requirements.
Dog training is remarkably easy and if your dog is a fussy eater you have probably inadvertently trained it that way.
Just think about this situation - We sit a 4 year old child down at the table with a choice between a plate of vegetable broth or Ice cream and Jelly and left the child to make its own decision. You know the answer and you also know which one is the healthy option. As responsible parents we do not allow the 4 year old child to make that kind of decision - we naturally insist on the healthy choice first.
The Pink Floyd Album - Another Brick in Wall – “If you can’t eat your meat, you cannot have any pudding” – it has been drummed into us down through the generations – responsible eating or no treats! So why do so many dog owners ignore these basic rules of parenting with their dogs? Why do dog owners constantly try one food after another looking for something the dog will like? All the while , what owners do NOT realise is that they are encouraging, training their dog turn up their nose at food. The dog learns that this behaviour results is some other form of food, hopefully tastier than the last. . Often as not, and I hear about them every other day – the dog finishes up getting fed nothing but chicken or turkey or mince.
One of the questions I ask in the Pet health questionnaire – “Does your dog eat all its food at one go?” Or ” Leave some for later? ” - The later answer comes through time and time again and it is the first big indication that the dog is getting too much food and someday will probably stop eating for a number of day and the owner starts to worry! The dog is not eating! An owner gets comfort from seeing the family pet eating and if it’s not eating, it’s a worry.
So how do we deal with the Fussy dog? How do we retrain the dog to eat naturally and to eat the healthy option and make both the owners life and the dog, much healthier and happy. Let us take a lesson from normal parenting – What do we do with children? - We exercise discipline!
Firstly, to prevent the problem developing we should be feeding enough that the dog eats all that is presented and is going round the bowl looking for more. So if your dog walks away leaving food then that needs to stop. Measure out the amount of food presented and if any is left measure that and deduct from the next meal plus a little more. Use this approach at every meal until all that is presented is eaten – At every meal!
With the fussy eater – put food down – if it does not eat- remove all food after 5 minutes – and do not give any food until the next meal . At the next and subsequent meals follow the same procedure until the dog eats the food. Do not worry if it takes 1 , 2 or even 8 days – the dog is simply not hungry enough. By taking this approach you are exercising discipline and at the same time training your dog that there are no alternatives!