What to Do When Your Dog Won't Eat: One Simple Tip
So, you've put the food bowl down in front of your dog, and suddenly you realise something isn't quite right, and then it hits you that you aren't hearing the usual frantic sounds that usually go with canine mealtimes. You turn back to your beloved pet, only to see him/her sit staring intently at you, their eyes communicating one simple message . . . "This again?"
If this is the first time this has happened, your first reaction will be colossal surprise and confusion. You know your dog, and you know he/she will eat ANYTHING, up to and including their own feces. Whatever you've put down in front of them can't be any worse than that, surely?
You may be tempted to fuss over your dog, to coax them, or possibly even to get angry with them, especially when you've spent all day lovingly preparing their favourite meal, and you've been cleaning the house to get everything ready. The solution is brief, stress-free, and mind-numbingly easy to administer . . . if you have the backbone.
Lectures Don't Work
The first time one of our two Staffy crossbreeds turned their nose up at dinner, we told her off. And the next time, we quickly realised—after checking that she wasn't ill or out of sorts in any other way—that if there's one thing that dogs understand, it's a reaction of any kind. Telling them off won't fix it and may only exacerbate the problem. In fact, with ours, the other one then started doing the same thing, and two fussy dogs are infinitely more annoying than one.
The Secret: How to Get Your Dog to Eat
Put the food bowl down and stand over them waiting. If they ignore it and look up at you, count to 10, and then take it away. And then walk away. Don't be dismissive of the dog in any way; just let them know that all that's happened is their food was taken away.
Then, at the next mealtime, give them the same bowl. If the same thing happens, give them the same response. What will probably happen (bear in mind, our dogs take it in turns to try it on about once every three months) is you'll end up in a minor battle of wills.
It'll be you feeling guilty about them not eating and them trying to push you into giving them what they want. Believe me: Stick with it, and you will win. It took our female three days the first time (and then there was no more problem for several months).
Eventually, they will get the message and eat what they are given. We felt TERRIBLE, but ultimately we couldn't afford to keep wasting food and switching brands just because our dogs decided to be fussy. Some owners may disagree, but I believe (along with many other responsible dog owners) that dogs are happier when they know their boundaries and know who's in charge; and that sometimes means making difficult decisions.
So be strong, take the bowl away, ignore the puppy-dog eyes and the whining and pestering, and you'll get a dog who eats what he's given and is happy about it. Good luck.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2012 DoctorDarts