10 Tricks for Encouraging your Fussy Dog to Eat

15th September 2021 6 min read read

Guest Blog: Smart Bark

There are two kinds of dogs. The first kind lives to eat, you know the type, they devour anything you put in front of them and quite a few things which you don’t. The second kind of dog eats to live. These dogs are the fussy eaters, they pick and choose what they eat, take forever to finish meals, and sometimes don’t finish them at all.

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10 Tricks for Encouraging your Fussy Dog to Eat

There are two kinds of dogs. The first kind lives to eat, you know the type, they devour anything you put in front of them and quite a few things which you don’t. The second kind of dog eats to live. These dogs are the fussy eaters, they pick and choose what they eat, take forever to finish meals, and sometimes don’t finish them at all.

A dog’s breed and age often determine whether they are passionate about food or couldn't really care less. Every Labrador is food motivated whilst smaller dogs, such as Yorkies and Cockapoos, tend to be more discriminating. Fussy Cockapoo's probably drive the dog food industry with distressed owners changing food constantly.

You offer a tasty and nutritious meal, yet your dog merely sniffs at it and ignores the food. It’s time for the next meal but the previous one hasn’t been eaten. Clearly, this can make any dog lover feel apprehensive and even distressed.

Feeding our dogs is a ritual which encourages us to feel more attached and devoted to them. They are completely dependent on us, by providing them with food, we fulfill their basic survival need, which in turn makes us feel really good about ourselves. So if you have a picky dog it can be extremely distressing.

To solve the fussy dog dilemma you need to STOP, relax and think more like a dog.

Here are our top 10 tricks for encouraging your fussy dog to eat.

It is really important to make sure your dog is not ill or has dental problems which can prevent them from eating – please visit your vet if you are in any doubt. This advice is not for ill dogs – just those that are fussy.

1. Set the Dog Table

Getting your dog to eat might be as simple as providing a dedicated place for their meals.

Choose an out-of-the-way, quiet and relaxed spot where they can eat undisturbed by any other pets or noisy children. The kitchen is often the centre of the home. It's usually such a busy and noisy room that it may not be the ideal place to offer your dog their meals. A safe, quieter place where they can take time to eat might just be the answer.

Interestingly, some dogs have an aversion to the bowl itself. If your dog will eat food from the floor or your hand but not from a bowl, it could be a negative association with the bowl itself.

Try a different style of bowl or even a flat plate or washable mat.

There is evidence that particularly sensitive dogs can often prefer shallow bowls and plates which don’t block their eyeline. They are happier when they can keep a watchful eye on their environment whilst eating.

LickiMats are one solution if your dog prefers a flat surface to eat from. The patterned surface design encourages your dog to work for their food and it creates a tasty and fun game for your dog as they work around the mat to seek out every last titbit with their tongue.

They pair particularly well with raw dog food which works it’s way into the multiple ridges. Paleo Ridge is a chunky raw food by design and is easy to spread across a Lick mat. There are several designs available and a whole host of benefits for your dog and you.

Lastly, it's worth considering the type of bowl you are using. Could their ID tag be banging against the bowl making a noise which spooks them? Bowls made from stainless steel can be noisier than other materials. Maybe try a plastic or ceramic bowl, both of which make less noise.

2. Vary the Protein

It is as important to dogs as it is to us humans to enjoy a varied diet. Offering variety will ensure that all your dog’s dietary requirements are being met.

However, this doesn’t mean constantly swapping food brands. It’s crucially important that once you find a brand that works well for your dog, you stick with it. Continually changing brands and food types can not only cause stomach upsets but can make picky eaters much, much worse. You will be unintentionally training your dog that if they hold out they might get something different or better.

When we talk about variety, it refers to the range of proteins offered by a brand. Dogs will gain different levels of nutrients from different animals so, the more variety the better. When feeding a raw diet, you should be aiming to feed at least 5-6 different species over a 2-month period.

Paleo Ridge offer an extensive collection including more familiar proteins - chicken, lamb, duck, beef, rabbit and fish alongside some more exotic proteins such as wild venison and kangaroo.

You can take advantage of their mixed hampers which make it incredibly easy to ensure your dog experiences the full variety of proteins on offer.

It’s worth remembering that as raw dog food is less processed, it more closely resembles proteins in their natural state. Providing a balanced and varied diet is easy and because of raw dog foods consistency and smell, it is more palatable for picky dogs.

3. Dog Snack Attack

It's difficult to ignore those puppy eyes isn’t it. Sharing food with your dog may seem generous, but it can do more harm than good. The food scraps can quickly add up and even tiny bites can be a lot of food for small dogs. The result is that your dog will be full by mealtimes.

So, if you're working hard on encouraging your dog to eat at mealtimes, avoid those snacks.

4. Dogs are Creatures of Habit

Like people, dogs can be creatures of habit. If your dog’s day is unpredictable, it could be elevating those stress levels. Once established, a routine provides a predictable stream of information which reduces stress and enables your dog to fully enjoy life with you.

Dogs need consistency, especially when it comes to their basic needs of food, shelter and safety. Try to create a ‘Feeding Window’ which is their opportunity to feed. Offer a meal at the same time every day and give your dog a certain amount of time to eat, say 15 minutes. Then remove the meal even if it's uneaten.

5. Offer Quality Dog Food

Always offer the best food you can afford.

Raw is the most nutritious food you can source for your dog as it contains all-natural vitamins and minerals, not synthetic ones as most processed foods do.

Paleo Ridge provides the highest quality, human-grade meat to ensure your dogs reach optimum health. One of their biggest priorities is animal welfare so all of their meat is ethically sourced through sustainable farming and is organic, free-range or wild where possible.

Being the most accredited Raw Dog Food manufacturer in the UK, they can guarantee every pack has been made with care and with the freshest ingredients.

6. Keep Your Distance

Our dogs are great at picking up on our feelings. If we are anxious then they will be too, which is only going to deter them from eating their food. Place your dog’s food on the ground and walk away. Even though you're concerned, don’t be tempted to watch to see if they’re eating. Some dogs can feel really uncomfortable if watched or at times distracted, if you continue to talk to them.

Another good tip is to wait to prepare your own meal until you've given your dog the opportunity to eat their food. The sounds, sights and smells of the food they're not being offered will almost certainly distract them from their own meal. Remove all distractions and you are providing the perfect opportunity for them to focus entirely on their food.

7. Reduce Portion Size

Offer just a small amount of food per meal, gradually increasing to an appropriate meal size when the smaller volumes are eaten consistently. Reducing the size of their meals can help them get into the habit of clearing their bowl.

Psychologically an empty dog bowl will make you feel more positive when you're struggling with a dog who's a fussy eater.

8. Avoid Dog Grazing

Never leave your dog’s food down for long periods of time, this supports your dogs ‘grazing’ mentality. You need to train your dog to eat their food when it is put down for them and to understand that this is their one and only opportunity to eat. Remember your dog is descended from opportunistic hunters so you are helping them by recreating this window for them. By removing the food, you are telling them that they need to wait until the next opportunity to eat.

9. Ignore the Puppy Eyes

In a day or two your dog may start checking around for extra treats. Stay strong and maintain your strategy. Dogs which have developed a taste for human food in particular can take time to enjoy the taste of dog food again.

The expectant gaze or the “puppy eyes” are a very successful tactic used by most dogs to get what they want, most often it is exactly whatever you're eating at that moment.

10. Stay Strong

It’s going to be tough and require 100% agreement from the entire family, so make sure that everyone's on board with your plan. Remember that dogs love consistency so it's really important that no one strays off plan when you have a dog who's a fussy eater.

Stay strong and, I promise, your dog will love you all the more for it.

Blog by Smart Bark.

For further information on our Paleo Ridge Raw review and Lickimat review see the website below :


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