Chicago Paws Dog Training Blog

Covers positive reinforcement dog training strategies and tips. Jeff strongly believes that positive reinforcement training is the only option and he is a vocal critic of other methods. You can also find product and book reviews and clicker training tips.

Your dog doesn't like food?

This topic comes up quite frequently with my private clients. Dogs of all ages and sizes can be finicky eaters. While I normally don't like to contribute to "breedism" I have found in my experience that small breeds can be more finicky than large breeds.

Here are some tips and suggestions that I have found to be helpful. If you are ever unsure or worried about your dog getting enough nutrients, make sure to consult with your veterinarian.

  • Dogs can go multiple days without eating. You need to make sure your dog is still drinking regularly, but if your dog is "holding out" for different food and skipping the occasional meal, don't worry about it.
  • On the other hand, if you don't mind "spicing" up your dog's food with little bits of chicken or flavoring, that is fine. If you get tired of doing that you can stop at any time. Your dog might resist eating at first, but he will eat when he gets hungry.
  • Take away food after 10-15 minutes. If your dog is hungry, he will eat. If you leave food down all day long, he will not be motivated to eat when food is available. If he doesn't eat one meal, feed him the same meal the next time, don't double the quantity.
  • Feed puppies a varied diet when they are young. Puppies that eat more variety are less finicky as adults.
  • It is not true that you should feed one food for your dog's whole life. This myth probably got started when dogs showed sensitivity to switching food, but if you do it slowly it is fine.
  • If you switch food, give 25% of the new food mixed with 75% of the old food and slowly increase percentages of the new food to avoid a too-sudden switch that could lead to loose stools.
  • Make sure your dog is getting a meat-based, protein rich, high quality food. Look at the ingredients. Your food should not have corn or soy listed in the ingredient list. Also avoid by-products. Good dog food makes a difference.

When you are training and using treats, adjust the amount of food your dog is getting to avoid overfeeding. Use good quality, nutritious treats and use your calories wisely.  


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