Why Your Dog
Won't Eat

Luzelle & Puppy Sage of HausTralis Malinois at Starbucks Botany Auckland

By Luzelle Cockburn

Now, in almost every class there’s at least one owner with a dog who won’t take their treats. I’ve been down that road myself. I once was THAT owner with THAT dog. I totally understand the frustration.

So, here’s a list of solutions that could help your dog eat their treats, especially when you are out and about or at training and really need your dog to take treats. And help your dog eat their dinner. This advice comes from dealing with my own fussy dogs, as well as helping many other people with their fussy dogs too!

What’s Your Dog’s Favourite Treats

Now this is usually the most common problem I find. Your dog doesn’t like the treats you’ve got. And for whatever reason, you don’t have the right treats. Then, as you are the thinking party here, it is up to you to find the right treats for your dog, and use those. This one thing could mean the difference between your dog concentrating in class, or you wasting your time and money coming to class. Remember if you have a small dog, you only need very small treats. Small dogs have small tummies that fill up quickly.

If your dog is just not hungry, then look at reducing the amount of food you give them. This applies to dogs that are fussy with food as well as dogs who are fussy with their treats, but more on that in the next section.

What sort of treats could you use? You could use frankfurter sausages, cut up into small pieces. You could grab a roast chicken from the supermarket, and cut that up for your pup. Most dogs love roast chicken, so it’s definitely worth a try. I always save any left overs for the dogs. Dog rolls like Possyum and Chunky Dog Roll cut up into pieces work well too. Most dogs love these. Another treat I’ve heard dogs go gaga over is dried lung, and this could be a great option if you’re trying to feed your dog as naturally as possible.

It’s like, I love dark chocolate (so to your dog this could be roast chicken), and I hate white chocolate (this could be the same as their kibble). I find milk chocolate average (this could be the same as supermarket treats to your dog). If you want me to come and hang out with you and you try to entice me with white chocolate, I’ll say, thanks but I’ll pass. I’ll come and hang out if you have milk chocolate and a good movie and you’re decent company. But if you only have white chocolate as a snack, I’d rather stay home with a good book. So think about how that applies to your dog.

I love dark chocolate (so to your dog this could be roast chicken), and I hate white chocolate (this could be the same as their kibble). I find milk chocolate average (this could be the same as supermarket treats to your dog). If you want me to come and hang out with you and you try to entice me with white chocolate, I’ll say, thanks but I’ll pass

What if Your Dog Won’t Eat Their Dinner

Now, one of the main reasons your dog won’t eat their dinner (or is fussy about treats) is because you are feeding them too much. It is much healthier and better for your dog to be slightly under weight than over weight. It is better for their joints and they are likely to have a longer, happier, pain-free life if they are the correct weight. So, if your dog isn’t eating their food, feed them a 1/4 less food at every meal. If this is still continuing try cutting down their food by half. Not every dog needs the amount stated on the packet. Some dogs need more, and others need less.

The second reason is that you are experiencing problems could be that you are leaving food out for your dog to graze on. This causes the most problems with dogs. It can even cause fights! So, definitely do not leave food out for your dog – unless, of course, you are feeding your dog from a boredom buster toy. But if you are coming home and the toy is still full of food then cut out a meal and feed the food out of the toy instead.

Your dog won’t starve themselves. You don’t need to be concerned if your dog is not eating their dinner. Cut down the amount you are feeding instead of trying to increase it. Though, there is one exception to this rule, if your dog is suffering from health problems or feeling sick, they might not be eating their food. Get your dog to a vet if your dog is suddenly off their food. That’s one major clue that your dog isn’t feeling well and it could be life threatening!

What’s Really the Problem

When it comes to eating problems in dogs, 99% of the time it’s the owner who hasn’t got it right. I totally know, we all panic when our pups won’t eat their dinner. When it comes to training, it really is important to select the treats that your dog wants, because if you haven’t got the right treats, you might need something substantially better to offer (and that could be a lot more difficult to figure out and build than just getting better treats).

Your dog might not want their treats or food because they just aren’t hungry. So, reduce the amount of food you are feeding your dog daily to help. 

While I’m not going to change my dog’s food to suit them (because I usually buy good quality foods for my dogs). And they have to eat the food I choose, unless it makes them feel unwell. If they just don’t like the taste, that’s just tough.

But, I will select treats that they do like. If you are taking your dog to a busy place, other dogs might be worth $100 to your dog. And if you’re only offering them treats that only have a $5 to them (to some dogs their every day kibble could be worth $100 to them, but to others it might be lightly seared steak) worth of treats, I’m sorry, but you will lose every time. You have to select the currency that will get your dog working for you. 

Have you found this post helpful? Share your thoughts in the comments below

Need Some Help with Your Dog?

The whole reason I’m a dog trainer is to keep dog out of shelters and rescues and off death row. The best way to do that is to keep dogs with their families! So, I’ve put together some resources to help you with your dog! It’s all kept in The Dog Training Lab – you’ll find heaps of free resources, just pop your email address in The Free Resources Hub to get access and you’re set! 

What information is in there? Tips to help you with walking your dog on lead, toilet training, problem barking and so much more!

Hey, I’m Luzelle!

If it has to do with transforming your naughty, embarrassing, frustrating or worrying dog into an obedient, well behaved member of the canine society that you can actually enjoy spending your life with, I can help.

Wanna know more? Check out the SolutionK9 About page!

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