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How To Feed A Fussy Dog

Every dog can be fussy at times, but for some owners, it seems as though their own dog is fussy all the time. Well, we can make and fuel the fussy eaters habits, so following the advice in the video and article below will help you enormously to overcome these problems. I will show you how feeding your dog naturally will solve fussy eating habits.

My Quick Starter Checklist

  • Feed twice a day
  • Start with a calm and thinking dog
  • Prepare food and pop into his bowl or plate. Ensure its room temperature and drizzling with warmed bone broth really helps.
  • You take a nibble of human food ( literally something the side of a grape) …. It’s just what dogs do, eat and go, I’ve finished, your turn. Simple and with no eye-contact. Dominant behaviour is if you eyeball the dog when you take a nibble. Teasing is when give and then take. Keep it simple and do what the dog understands.
  • All four paws on the ground and you place food opposite side to where he is standing by you, so he has to walk to it. He needs to make the effort as nothing comes free.
  • Movement is powerful…you don’t get something for nothing
  • I don’t ask for a sit as I wish the dog to exhibit self-control
  • When the bowl or plate is down, I take a step away and turn away. I’m done you fill your boots is the message I’m conveying
  • Remember you must stay in the same room ( have door shut)and ensure its calm and quiet, no people rushing in and out.
  • The dog can relax because you’re there ( especially if they follow you constantly round the house) and eat with-out you looking, which can be taken by your dog as a challenge or anxiety.
  • When dog walks away from his bowl…remove it. Your dog has shown you he’s finished.
  • If he hasn’t eaten it all or sniffed and walked away … Remove the food, he’s told you doggy style he’s not hungry.
  • Repeat the process at the next meal time and no treats between.
  • He’s going to get hungry and won’t want to miss out on the opportunity of a meal.
  • This can go on for a day or two … don’t panic he won’t starve himself, he will eat if you stay consistent and calm. Don’t give in. It’s a battle of the wills and he’s testing you. Think about feeding children, if they don’t eat main course and get a pudding anyway, then they never will eat what’s put in front of them unless it’s the naughty but nice stuff.
  • To prevent aggression around food, don’t approach him when eating or, if you like you can put extra in to the bowl when the dog has finished and he can have a little more.
  • Remember by removing the bowl as the dog is eating will in many cases lead to food aggression …. Rightly so. How would you feel if that happened to you?

SO remember that at no point when your dog is eating should you approach him or look at him or you could quite possible end up with a food aggressive dog.

How To Flash Fry

Changing to a raw diet is going to help your dog both physically and mentally. This method of feeding your dog will solve your fussy dog’s fussy eating habits.

How do you encourage your dog to eat his new raw diet?

Also see video above

see our guide to raw food – what, how and why

The raw food: it’s different, it’s a new texture and smell. They are used to smelling gorgeous human cooking and getting a kick out of sugar with dry food. Have a go with these ideas:

  • Try flash frying little burgers.
  • Ensure the food is at room temperature
  • Drizzle with some warm bone broth or coconut oil melted in little warm water.
  • Be calm, don’t fuss or your anxieties will transfer to your dog – anxious dogs pick up from anxious parents.
  • Remember hand feeding is over pampering, however you could incorporate calling them to you and giving them little flash fried burger as a reward, so don’t bribe but when then come when called, you can give a short gentle massage then produce the food. Remember to wean them off this as soon as you can once they have got the idea that’s it super delicious and return to the natural feeding technique.
  • As the days progress flash fry less of them until your dog eats complete raw.

The Recall Method

The recall method is great for dogs after an operation or recovering from an anesthetic, as they may need to get motivated into eating again. They will have pain, discomfort and be a little stressed.

  • Flash fry mini burger shapes in coconut oil
  • Call you do to you even just one step and reward with the treat
  • Repeat a few times
  • The last few pop on a plate for the big reward
  • Phase in feeding as demonstrated in the top video

The Opportunist Method

Dogs are opportunists and some respond really well to you making the mini burgers and as you are busy cooking for instance in the kitchen is to flick one on the floor and take no notice of your dog. He’ll want to snatch it up before you realise you’ve dropped it.

Phase this out over 24 to 48 hours to then be able to pop a bowl down and feed as in the first video above.

More Explanations About Canine Eating Habits Including Aggression

Why is your dog fussy with eating food?

Behavioural issues around food are only one symptom of unrest in dogs and to get the complete “fix” so to speak, we need to look at the dogs whole life with you from how you walk it, how you address your dogs fears and questions in and out of the home and playing constructive games. Myself and Lesley Harris use a holistic natural method that addresses all issues rather than trying to fix one stand alone problem, which in the majority of cases is one of many problems the dog is indicating. If you read my book “Why Does My Dog Do That? You’ll get a good understanding of why dogs do what they do and how to help them move forward to a more relaxed and happy life.

Remember, if your dog is stressed then he will not be in the right frame of mind to eat. Many prefer to eat in the evening as all threats to safety have come and gone, so they are more relaxed to eat. Also do remember that if your dog also is an avid follower of you about the home and suffers separation anxiety then you’re not being in the same room, is a massive issue.

How Do You Stop Dog Aggression Around Food?

We can all get a bit grumpy when we have our favourite food or something we value. Remember if your dog has issues like this around food, it is not wise to give them bones, antlers etc that they will take the opportunity to put you in your place. Ensure all human food is out of reach. No children or adults to walk around with food in their hands as they may drop it and as they pick it up, the dog has gone in for possession. Take a look at this blog and video to help you move forward. https://www.bellaandduke.com/guide/dog-behavior/help-solve-aggression-around-food/

What are dogs saying When They…

 Eye ball you or another dog when eating? a dog who stares at you whilst eating

So you’ve got a dog, who, when eating his food or chewing on a bone staring and possibly growling at the same time. This dog is possibly displaying a dominant behaviour or an anxiety that you may remove it from him. Keeping you at a distance.

Do not reciprocate with eye contact, so do turn away so he can relax. Watch the  footage of how to feed dogs aggressive with food. It’s all about fear of losing what’s theirs. It is advisable not to give these dogs big bones or toys stuffed with food. Not that I advise those anyway.

Give Food To Dogs To Prevent Food Aggression

Equally it could be a dog whose previous owners favour the approach of “I can take my dog’s food away at any time – he doesn’t do a thing” and he is afraid of this happening again. It’s his and he’s giving you the please stay away look and let me enjoy this, you gave it to me, you’re not going to take it back are you?. Let him enjoy it and do not make eye contact or walk towards him, he will drop his eye contact and enjoy the moment. Do not approach as he would be in his rights to get grumpy. You gave it to him, so don’t take it back until he’s indicated by walking away that he’s finished with it.

Walk Away Or Face Away From Dogs Displaying Anxieties / Aggression, When Chewing On Possessions.

Dogs will also do this with other possessions (whether his or not, in his mind if he has it, it’s his) bones and toys. In these cases remove yourself from the room. If the dog hasn’t got an audience then there is no point to his display … it didn’t work!

The point is, if he can get eye contact he will try to control a situation rather than enjoy the moment. Don’t look down and engage in eye contact when a dog is eating.

See … How to feed your dog naturally and to solve aggression around food as this behaviour will very probably escalate.

Your dog may be a Grazer / fussy eater

Dogs naturally just eat their food in one go and pretty quickly if there is another dog about. If they don’t and come and go on it or just will eat come evening says a lot about how your dog is feeling and how he perceives you.

A dog who can come and go on their food all day is dictating when he will eat and how much. The canine stomach is not set up for grazing. Wolf it down and crack on is what nature intended. When dogs have finished eating and had their fill, they walk away. This is the indication to others that they can then go in and get theirs.

So leaving it down, you’re showing your dog that it can control its own feeding times and you’ll keep away. He’s making these small decisions (big in his mind) and you standing back not taking control of meal times. The food stays down, he knows it belongs to him, so he may feel the need to guard it, and he can quickly become anxious and stressed.

Keep it simple as you would with children. Meal is at this time and if you don’t want it then it goes and no eating between meals until you eat your meals.

Dogs Who Counter and table surf For Food

So here’s the situation, when you get up from your chair at dinner time and your dog goes and scoffs the plate full of food that you intended to finish, but just got up to grab a drink? The plate of food left on the side unit unattended? If you leave it, you don’t want it, is what that indicates to your dog. Yes, there are many dogs that won’t touch your food and have heaps of self-control, but likewise there are many that are driven by instinct and desire.

Remember if your dog snatches your food when you’ve left it, it’s not naughty, it’s just being a dog and you actually indicated that you’d finished. By walking away from your plate of food, you’ve indicated that you’ve had your fill.

The scrounger at meal times

Have you or your children ever fed your dog from the table? They learn quickly, it only takes once and it will be remembered. Say nothing, face away then walk them away using a line away from the table.

If he gets nothing for the behaviour, then what’s the point in doing it. You’ll have to repeat many times in some cases for the message to get through. Remember not to feed your dog from the table. He gets food when you feed his as in the clips. Otherwise human food times become part of his day to join in on. The same goes for when a dog is trying to get to food when you’re cooking.

Why does your dog Hoard or hide their food?

Do you have a dog, that when you leave you give him a treat and when you get back after a couple of hours then will eat it. This could be anxiety affecting eating habits – he feels anxious when you are not there so has no desire to eat, but when you return he relaxes and is happy to do so.   A controlling dog may do the same thing for a different reason.  He won’t touch it until you return, but then will pick it up and look at you whilst chomping it. I’ve got food, you’ve not, I’m top of the food chain here guys.

You’ll also get dogs who save bits of food through the day from their bowl so when it is empty or removed, they still have the equipment for display.  Situation control techniques.

If you have a dog like this then best not to leave them with food. In fact I’m not a great one for leaving dogs with food unattended for health as well as behavioural reasons. Choking alone can be fatal and hence I leave no toys about either.

When you’re out your dog should be able to grab a nap, if he’s  been shown to his satisfaction that all is well with you leaving, and he can be calm safe and happy in his own skin, with or without you.

Some dogs seem to be naturally fussy around their food, but what about dogs who normally feed really well and now all of sudden don’t?

For dogs who are grazers or fussy eaters, those who can manipulate their owner into changing food regularly or are given too many treats in a day, it is more of a behavioural/anxiety issue.

If your dog has always eaten well and then suddenly stops eating-  it is most probably due to a medical reason and you should visit your vet.

7 Possible medical reasons why your dog may have stopped eating

    • He may have something stuck in his mouth or throat
    • Ear ache
    • Stomach problems
    • Neck problems
    • A bitch in season
    • Phantom pregnancy
    • Unwell for other reasons

In general It is not natural behaviour for a dog to refuse food. Dogs are scavengers and opportunists. Food is survival. So Visit your vet if at all concerned.

  • A painful or cracked tooth

What type of bowl should you use to feed your dog?

Some don’t like metal and the clink of their tag on the bowl. So just be aware when you’re having issues with feeding. Others are unsettled by the fact they can’t see anything with their heads deep in a bowl. A china plate on a mat maybe more conducive to happy eating.

Where you place the bowl may effect eating habits

It may be worth re thinking where you feed your dog. He may prefer his plate or bowl popped in a safe place where he can eat unhindered. In his cave space under the table or covered open crate may be better suited to his needs.

Who should feed your dog?

You must stay in the room when a dog is eating, but do not face towards or look at him. All family members in the house at the time ideally should also be in the room. If there are any noises to disturb your dog, he will step away from the food. If he’s a dog that following and checks on family member’s in other areas of the house, then it’s not going to help if they are elsewhere.

Remember the door must be shut for the dog to feel safe and with no thoughts of checking out the front door or sounds from another room.

Why your dog should be calm before feeding

Before you begin anything with your dog, he needs to be calm and relaxed. Do not ask for a ‘sit’ as with many this is counterproductive. He needs to be able to stand back and wait patiently; sitting or standing…it’s his choice. Relaxed meal times will help massively.

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