Are you one of those pet owners who find themselves saying. ‘My dog is a fussy eater?’
Well you’re not alone.
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 a dog would scavenge to satisfy their hunger. Not just to feed their appetite but also their nutritional requirements.
It’s a lot to do with dog training.
Dog training is remarkably easy and if your dog is a fussy eater you have probably inadvertently trained it that way.
Imagine this scenario;
A 4 yr old child sits at the table with a choice between a plate of vegetable broth or a bowl of ice cream and jelly. The child is left to make its own decision about what to eat.
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’ features “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!
Why so fussy?
Just 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 don’t realise is they are encouraging, training their dog to 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 ends 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 again and its the first big indication that the dog is getting too much food. And someday will probably stop eating for a number of days 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 re-train the dog to eat naturally and choose the healthy option? Making both the owners life and the dog’s life much healthier and happier.
What do we do with children? We exercise discipline!
Let us take a lesson from normal healthy parenting.
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.
Use this approach at every meal until all that is presented is eaten – At every meal!
1. Measure out the amount of food presented.
2. Measure any remaining food that is not eaten and deduct that amount from the next meal – plus a little more.
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-time.
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! So no more. ‘My dog is a fussy eater’. Become a pet owner who can say. ‘My dog was fussy but got over it’.