“How to let my picky dog eat?” 😑 “My dog is not eating.” 😥 “My dog is a fussy eater!” 😐
We hear you. Rara and Skippy both hear you too. So we are going to share with you 8 tips on how to make your picky dog eat better. It seems to be becoming a norm that dogs are getting picky, and our data shows that certain breeds may be fussier than other breeds. Fussy eating seems to be one of the main problems of caring for our dogs. As a result, some pawrents are worried of giving food that are “too good or yummy” for fear of encouraging pickiness. This is reasonable. But we would like to share that the problem of picky eating is usually not the type or nature of food itself.
The problem is pawrents themselves. And many pet parents are giving in to their dogs, which is encouraging this picky cycle to continue!
Some pawrents decide to give in to their ‘demanding’ pups by replacing the rejected food with treats or sinful food because they cannot bear to see their dog ‘starve’. This creates a ‘bad habit’ loop, and the sequence of events are as follow –
Bad habit loop 🙅♀️:
Dog refusing food > hooman gives new food > dog eats new food > hooman gives original food again > dog refusing food again > hooman no choice but to give new food again > dog eats new food again
In this context, the dog is ‘in control’ of the situation. They know that if they reject any food, they will be able to get something new or something that they want.
These dogs are then ‘conditioned’ to think this way, and then they become picky. We ever encountered pawrents who feed roasted fats because their pets do not eat anything else. (Yes, like barbeque meat! 😨) It’s a vicious cycle if it turns out like that. The dog will be trained to think that “oh, if i reject this food, my mama will feed me roasted fatty meat!”
It all comes down to your behaviour! And it’s not the food’s problem.
Yes, many picky eating issues all stem from the pet owners’ behaviour of giving in too much.
What if you can create a positive habit like below –
Good habit loop 💁♀️:
Dog refusing food > hooman takes food away after a fixed time > hooman offers the same food during the next feeding time until dog gets hungry enough to eat > food eaten > repeat the process again
In this case, the hooman is ‘in control’ of the situation and is not giving in to the ‘demanding’ dog. After a while, the dog will have no choice but to eat the food again as it is hungry. Don’t worry, dogs can live without food for 5-7 days easily. Some can go even longer than a week and can still run and jump. (See fact.) If your dog is famished, it will most likely eat. Almost no dog will choose to starve!
Tips to managing a picky dog who is not eating – from Rara and Skippy
Of course, we have our fair share of success stories and failed stories. Also picked up and exchanged pointers with many pet parents so far. Here are some of the most simple and easy behavioural tips for you to try, if you have a fussy furry animal at home. Remember, you must be more disciplined than your fussy furkid! 😠😬:
1) If your dog does not eat his food, don’t give treats.
Ban all treats if the main food is not eaten. Please, no softening of heart if your dog comes begging later!
2) Reduce to just 1 meal per day
There may be more reasons than just straightforward pickiness. Sometimes, the dog may just be too full. So, try to cut down on food amount for a while.
3) Confine your dog with his food and only let him out after he has finished his food
This is to condition your dog to learn that this is the time to eat, and he has to eat before doing anything else.
4) Stick to a fixed meal time every day
Also a conditioning action to let your dog learn about daily ‘must-do’ eating habits.
5) After 15-30 minutes, take away food, no matter finish or not. And no more feeding until next meal time!
If you want your dog to come out a more easygoing dog, you need to overcome this step and not let your worries overwrite your action. If your dog does not eat, take away food and ban all treats and any other feeding. At the next mealtime, feed the same food again.
6) Feed with variety
Instead of hopping into different food frequently, rotate among a few different types of proteins. This may be useful in sustaining interest and excitement for some dogs. (Try Pawmeal with 4-9 different flavours each month if you want to try feeding with variation).
7) Try sprinkling dehydrated toppers on top of the food (short term solution)
Some picky dogs are not eating, and their pawrents use Pawmeal’s dehydrated toppers on top of the fresh food and their pets ended up eating the food! However, this is just a short term fix and the dog should not become dependant on these toppers. The idea is to coax them to eat and gradually taper away the use of dehydrated toppers.
Higher difficulty level:
8) Do not change food so quickly if your dog rejects it initially
Many pawrents’ initial reactions are to keep changing food as they think that their dogs do not eat. Some also feel that they do not want to waste the food and money. However, remember the above bad habit loop. If you change the food so readily, your dog will learn that as long as it continues to reject food, you will keep giving new food. (Not good!)
As always, every dog is different by nature. Many pet owners are in a fix when it comes to finding solutions on how to make their picky dogs eat. Although these may not be sure-fire methods, you can start off on the right foot with these tips. In order to see a positive outcome, managing a picky dog requires discipline from the pawrent. Most importantly, if your dog is a fussy eater, you cannot give in! 💪
Remember, you are training your dog, not the other round! 😂
Note: These tips are a culmination of Rara, Skippy and our customers’ feeding (and learning) experiences. We have more content on picky eating up soon, and cannot wait to share with you! 😊🧡
Try Pawmeal, a fresh food that picky dogs love. 😊