We all have preferences about what we like to eat. If you have a picky dog, then you already know that dogs also have preferences on the dog food they like! But what do you do when your dog doesn’t want to eat any of food that you choose for them? While your dog has to like their food to eat it, there are ways that you can train your dog to love their food!
With luck, you’ll only need to follow step #1 to get your picky dog eating their food. Here’s how to do it.
Before We Get Started…
If your dog has suddenly refused to eat or is losing weight because they will not eat, please take them to the vet immediately. Sudden, extreme refusal to eat is a sign of medical illness.
Step #1: Stop Over-Feeding Treats
When you have a picky eater, many dog owners tend to give their pups more treats or even table scraps in an attempt to get their dogs to eat something.
Unfortunately, feeding them these kinds of foods too often can cause dogs to become picky about what they are willing to eat.
Don’t let your dog train you into feeding them treats because you are worried about them being hungry. If they’re hungry, they will eat!
Step #2: Limit Meal Time
When I was growing up, we gave my dog a big bowl of dog food each morning, and she ate it throughout the day. I never knew there was any other way to feed a dog!
Now, I always recommend that dog owners feed their dog two equal-sized meals per day. If you have a picky eater, you will want to limit how long they have to eat the food.
When you put out their morning meal, give them 30 minutes to eat it. After the 30 minutes is over, take the bowl away. Do the same thing at dinner time. Don’t give them extra treats if they start begging during this adjustment period.
Within just a few days, your dog will learn that they have to eat at meal times if they want to eat. Once they learn this, you can go back to regular treat feeding habits, but it’s good to keep to the 30-minute plan so that they do not revert back to picky behavior.
Step #3: Try Three Brands
If your dog still seems reluctant to eat and you’ve never tried another brand of dog food, you may want to try something that they will like better. Some dogs simply do not like the taste of certain proteins, and getting them to eat it will always be a struggle.
I recommend trying up to three different brands of high-quality dog food to find out what your dog likes. You may also want to try mixing in wet dog food with dry dog food to see if your dog prefers to eat a different texture.
Step #4: Change Food Gradually
If you decide to change your dog’s diet to a higher quality dog food, you will want to make this adjustment gradually so that your dog will not get sick or reject the food.
Start by mixing in ¼ the new food with ¾ the old food for one week. Then, switch to a half-and-half combo the following week. Finally, feed your dog a ¾ new food, ¼ old food combination for one final week before moving on to their new food!
By doing this, you can stop your dog from going on a hunger strike because they aren’t used to the new food. It is also good to transition slowly so that their bodies can adjust to the new levels of protein, fat, and other nutrients that they will be eating.
Keep Your Dog Eating Well
Even though it is frustrating when your dog refuses to eat their food, dog owners need to have patience in figuring out how to get them to eat well. After all, they keep us healthy, so we should keep them healthy, too!
It can take time to establish good feeding habits, but you will find feeding your dog very easy once they are established. Remember: Limit treats, no table scraps, set meal times, and test new foods.
Do you have any more tips on how to get a picky eater to enjoy mealtime? Make sure to share it with us in the comments – advice from other owners is always helpful!
Guest article written by James Shore of Labrador Training HQ.