You’ve seen the videos: a dog jumping up and down, running in circles and licking its lips waiting for his dinner. But some dogs aren’t so excited for their kibble. Some are slow eaters. Some turn their noses at what seems like everything you try for feed them.
Dogs can be gluppers. Doesn’t everyone know a Labrador that is done in 10 seconds flat? But dogs can also be very slow eaters. They nibble a little now and nibble a little later. This isn’t a bad thing unless the dogs refuses entirely or isn’t eating enough to maintain body condition. Then, there’s the truly picky dogs. How do you handle the truly picky ones?
Feed on a Schedule
For the most part, feeding your dogs on a schedule is the best bet: it allows you to see how much your dog is eating (or not eating), and it keeps unwanted critters away from the open food bowl. If your dog is a slow eater and the food can safely be in the bowl for a long time, then free-feeding (not free amounts, ALWAYS measure the dog’s daily amount) your dog can be fine. Feeding time can be bonding time, so if your dog is reluctant, try some praise.
Cut Out the Table Scraps
It can be hard to ignore those puppy-dog eyes staring up from underneath the kitchen table, but it’s best for you and your dog to avoid giving in. Your dog knows that there’s food on the table and people to hand it down, so they may decide to wait for that food instead of eating their own. Keep an eye out of the softies at the table and get their help to stop the scraps.
Check the Food
Picky eating is almost always the dog, but as a responsible owner, check the food too. Dog foods can go stale and expire. Be sure to close the bag every time you measure out food to ensure it stays fresh. Keep in a closed container to keep out pests. Check the expiration date on every container coming into your house.
Mix It Up
Some dogs LOVE the new. They seem to want the change so try out some new textures and maybe even brands. Give your pup a surprise every once in a while. Tear open a pouch of Mixables dog food toppers to liven up their regular meals. When completely switching food, however, make sure to do it gradually — changing food too suddenly can upset your dog’s stomach.
We all need a little encouragement sometimes, and that includes our furry friends. Eating is a behavior that you want your dog to do, like sitting or fetching — so train them to eat, too! Give them plenty of praise, pets and smooches after they’ve eaten to show them that it’s a behavior that gets a reward.
A Word of Caution
Being ‘off its feed’ can mean many things. You should always consult with your veterinarian to rule out any medical conditions if your dog is not eating like it normally does.