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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

My Dog is a Picky Eater

Well, we thought we had it beat.
In fact I was about to declare success!
The husband blames me, "Way to go mom. Giving the boy wet food.."

Let me explain myself!

Little Miss Ziva, goes through phases of bed destruction so we've been giving her frozen Kong treats for example stuffing said Kong with wet dog food (the good stuff of course!).

I had a little extra left over and didn't want it to go bad before I was able to use it so I mixed it into the dogs' wet food as a little extra yummy in their dinner kibbles. They loved it of course and both dogs cleaned their bowls - not a single kibble survived.

Well breakfast came and Dante snubbed his dish, he does this sometimes so we figured he'd just had a big dinner and wasn't hungry.

We then went to Grandma's house to visit my brother in law and his wife who were visiting from Florida, our dogs played for hours! We stayed late and ended up going home and giving the dogs dinner hours past their normal feeding time. Dante being a dog of schedule snubbed his dinner.

Well breakfast this morning came... he ate just a couple bites, enough to get our hopes up, and snubbed it again!

Looks like we're back on Strike! The Picky Eater has arose from the grave to haunt us!

"Maybe if I look pathetic enough she'll give me goodies..."

So just a recap of what to do if your dog is a picky eater:
  • First make sure your dog doesn't have any health issues going on by visiting your veterinarian. In our case Dante is very healthy, he's just picky about his food.
  • No bribing, no fuss, no treats unless he is eating his food regularly.
    • Fussing and making a fit about your dogs eating habits is enabling behavior - you are the problem with your dog.
  • A hungry dog will eat - give your dog a choice, eat or go hungry. 
  • We offer food twice daily and give our dogs plenty of time to eat. However if they walk away from their bowl then they are clearly not hungry or interested in eating. Remove the bowl feeding time is over when they walk away - their will be no snacks in between meals unless they are eating regularly.
  • Do not cater to your dogs demands - just like a good parent won't allow their kids to eat candy for days straight, your dog should eat what he is given and be grateful.
  • Food is a valuable resource - the ULTIMATE resource for animals in fact.

Just remember you're not being mean, you gave your dog a choice and it was his choice to go hungry. Your dog will not starve himself to death.

For more on this subject and additional resources please read my first article about picky eaters - Today's Menu ~ Eat it or Starve

Training Tip Tuesday blog hop about dog training and behavior


  1. Great points! Yeah we experienced what you mention in the earlier article - a couple dogs who just didn't like their food! It was after we adopted them, so we were in that transition period, and we noticed that changing them to better food or different foods (until we found that right one) was key.

    Nerves played a huge role in this. They weren't nearly as picky about anything after they grew more comfortable in their general environment (ie: we though we had a picky eater, and he ate *anything* as soon as he was no longer shy!)

    Until that point, we used a bit of parmesan cheese sprinkled over the food to make it more enticing. That did the trick :)

    1. We've switched Dante a couple times, his current food - Merrick. He loved at first! It seems like the key with him is just to not add anything to his kibbles and he'll eat it fine, but as soon as something is added he ends up expecting it and snubbing his dish if he doesn't get it. Little stinker! :-) I think I have his game figured out though.

    2. Oh my goodness, how cute! I mean, stinker indeed but stinking cute :) Isn't it fascinating the games that they do, or sort out. My mom's cairn terrier used to spit out very specific things she'd add to the meal. For example, she'd add a mix of some diced up carrots and peas, and he'd eat all the carrots but she'd find the peas all scattered about on the floor... he spat every single one of them out!

    3. Ha! Yes that is exactly like Dante! And here he has me once again..considering switching flavors!

  2. It's so funny that dogs can so easily manipulate us when it comes to food. You're absolutely right - a hungry dog will eat. I've been making such good progress with Laika over the past few months with this bad habit.. Then my boyfriend comes along and assumes that she's starving (and she gives the sad eyes to him) so I catch him sneaking her blueberries or carrots.. Which is fine as a treat if she was eating normally. He's a complete enabler.

    1. Yep - they are smart and good at figuring out who they can charm.

      Now I know better - no goodies in his kibbles. :-) Good luck training the boyfriend!

  3. Do you think maybe something is wrong with the food or makes him feel bad? Just curious, because my sister's dog started snubbing food and she found out that the formula had been changed, or that it was a bad bag, or that it had been making him feel bad. I just couldn't imagine having a dog who snubs food! (Ok, granted my pups are pretty picky about their human food choices, but I've yet to see them snub any canine specific food or treats-with extra yummies or without!) I really hope Dante starts eating again soon though! :)

    1. Hmmm....that's a good idea..I hadn't thought about it. But his poop is normal, no tummy growling, no bad gas. It's still the Merrick brand of beef and sweet potato, we know he has chicken allergies and their is no chicken in it. And Ziva is eating it just fine.

      It sure would be easier if he was a pig! My suspicion is that the wet food mixed into his kibbles made him think he should have it every time. The only reason I don't give him wet food regularly is what we went through last time, where he was only eating rice and meat and refusing kibbles altogether even when we were warming up and adding goodies to his food.

      At this point we're pretty sure he's just a food snob - so we're holding out and making him appreciate what he is given. Maybe in the future we'll switch both dogs to a raw food diet (which i'm sure he'd love!), but right now its just too spendy with how much food and calories they require. :-)

      Thanks for the idea though! I'll watch him close to see if he has any signs of something being wrong.

  4. Do you guys use or know anyone who uses, a multivitamin powder that maybe I could sprinkle on their food at meal time that the dogs would love?

    1. We have this one for dogs, and an Only Natural Pet multivitamin sprinkle for our senior cat (I know they have ones for dogs, at

    2. Quick note - our dogs and cat right now aren't picky in the least about *anything* (my cat eats anything at all, even jalapenos if I don't get them off the plate in time) so I'm not sure how they resonate with picky eaters!

    3. Thanks! I'll talk to my husband about it, I was also thinking of adding like a fish/salmon oil to his food. I know he's not lacking in anything but I was thinking that maybe it would help him to stop snubbing if I could find something he would go nuts for.

      Lucky you! Ziva tries most random things I give her but neither of my dogs are really food/treat hounds. They are more into their toys. :-)

    4. We were using the Only Natural Pet Multivitamin powder with the Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil:
      It smells really good and the dogs seemed to enjoy it.
      Right now they are using some other multivitamins (Hip and Joint for Bella and Skin and Coat for Kronos and Terra), so we're holding off on including the powder until we talk to a vet about proper and compatible supplements and nutrition-we don't want to over-supplement.

  5. Thank goodness we are both good eaters for Mom and Dad! My cousin Mia is picky and her mom always worries about her not eating enough!

  6. We eat everything but our human sisters are a different story! BOL! Great info, thanks for sharing!

  7. We had a Terrier growing up who was kinda weird about his food too. My mom had fed him off of her plate (and he would steal off her plate-I wouldn't leave him alone with mine), so he seemed to think that only human plates should be eaten off of. Well, my grandma decided she wouldn't press it and she fed him on a paper plate. When I came home from school, I told her that he had eaten from a bowl his whole life (I think he was about seven years old at that time) and had no problem with it. So while I was there I fed him in his normal bowl. He refused to eat out of the bowl for just a couple of meals (since the other dogs were fine eating the food and he was a pretty big food hound I knew there was nothing wrong with the food and he would eat it if it was offered on a plate or by hand but if had snubbed it even if offered by hand or the other dogs wouldn't eat it then I would have known something was either wrong with the food or maybe with him), then went back to eating on a normal schedule out of his bowl.
    Completely understand about it being too spendy (which is why wet food and yummies besides some supplements are a special addition to the regular kibble fare in our household). Have you tried adding water to the dry kibble to soften it a bit? Maybe he prefers the softer consistency which is why he snubs the hard dry food by itself and only eats the other things? Then you're not technically adding goodies to the food, although it does create a sort of gravy with the food. Anyways, good luck with your food quest with Dante :)

    1. Dante is a total weirdo - when we first switched him to the Merrick Beef that he's on now, he loved it and was excited to eat. I think he just gets bored, we've tried adding hot water and making it softer (he'll eat it for a while then snub it again) and that's when we started adding things to try and get him to eat. This became crazy! We did veggies, rice, wet dog food, ground beef...etc..he'll still snub it if he's in the mood too.
      We had him checked at the vet, brought in stool samples - nothing but a bill. He's healthy, everything seems to work just fine.
      So once we reached the point of silliness and fussing over him to eat we realized that we'd have to just tough love him out of it.

      No more fussing, no more messing with the kibbles, and no treats in between meals unless he's eating regularly. In my first post I mentioned an article I found called "The Cure for the Picky Eater" and it worked!

      He has been eating fine ever since, but now we're back at it, I think my mistake was mixing the wet food into his kibbles (i think it brought out his snobbery again). On a good note he ate his dinner and some breakfast this morning!

    2. Yowza-that sounds like fare that many dogs would go bonkers for and a lot of effort on your part to convince him to eat!
      Very glad Dante is eating again and not snubbing his regular food! ^^

  8. If I know nothing is wrong with Bain, I won't play any games. He'll eat if he's hungry, if he doesn't eat I do what was described above.

    Though recently I know the issue has been heat this time. Sometimes I will run out of everything, and just kibble on it's own without anything can be a little boring if it's all of the time and I haven't purchased turmeric, oil or wet food to throw in.

    My ex-boyfriend's mom would feed their Chihuahua only sandwich meats because the dog was that picky. Not going to happen in this house!

    1. Agreed! Since we've been letting him decide, no bribery Dante has been eating no problem. :-)


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