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How to Make Your Dog Love Meals – Genius Ways to Get a Picky Pooch to Eat

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I am seeing a lot of people having trouble with feeding their puppies. Is your dog a food critic? Does this sound like a familiar scenario: your dog takes one sniff at the food bowl, turns his head, and ignores it? Then, you have to find something that will meet your dog’s gourmet standard. Well, I am here to tell you it shouldn’t be that way. How to make a picky dog eat?

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Well, it starts with building a good bond. But also, you have to understand your dog. Remember, not all dogs are food-driven. Some smaller breeds, for example, toy dogs and apartment dogs want attention and praise from you, not food. Pay attention to motivate your dog, and then you can turn a picky dog into a food-driven pooch.

Why is your dog refusing food?

There are many reasons why dogs do not love their bowl. Some dogs do not like dog food at all. Others, are just not into it. Even if you get the best dog food on the market, your fussy dog might not like it.

Let’s try and talk about the four most common reasons dogs refuse food. I’ve been around dogs for more than 30 years, and I can tell you firsthand, that while there are many more reasons for your picky eater to refuse food, these are usually the standard.

  • Your dog is not food-driven, especially smaller breeds. Food for some dogs is not all that important. These dogs do not see food as the ultimate award. Instead, they want attention or praise, and for them, food comes secondary
  • Anxiety causes problems, when your dog is nervous, his appetite goes down. Humans are the same. When they feel anxious, stressed, or just down, they do not want to eat. There are a couple of factors that can contribute to anxiety, like boredom, loneliness, or being home alone for most of the day
  • You’ve spoiled your dog by making treats more than treats. As a responsible dog owner and pet parent, you should reward your puppy for good behavior. But giving too many treats can spoil his appetite. Think about this for a second. Our parents never gave us candies before lunch and dinner, right?
  • Dinner is boring. And it doesn’t matter if that is wet food or dry food. Some dogs just find dinner boring. You can try and mix some treats with canned food, or a bit of warm water. There are even sauces you can add. You can try a healthy food meal topper like peanut butter, coconut oil, fish oil, and other healthy options that will make dinner more interesting

How to get your dog to eat?

Now, let’s talk about how to make a picky dog eat. Mealtime shouldn’t be a battleground. When I see a dog owner and a pet parent struggling to feed his dog, I want to help. So, do you want to turn your picky eater into a happy and healthy eater?

Here are a couple of ways you can outsmart your dog. And it works with all dog breeds.

Walk away

With this food game, you are targeting your dog’s curiosity. Dogs are naturally curious, and they want to explore and see new things. So, put the bowl and new food down, and then walk away.

Curiosity will get the best out of your puppy. Do not watch your dog. That can make him feel uneasy. Instead, wait for 10 to 20 minutes, and then pick up the food. Put it back in the fridge and walk away.

Then, offer the food for the next meal. Do not worry, your dog will not starve. More on that later.

Entice your dog

Dogs love to sniff. They have so many more sensors than humans. And it is your job to use their sense of smell to your advantage. You can use it to entice your dog to eat, especially if you are feeding raw food. Light cooking will change the texture of the food and the cooking aromas will entice your puppy to try what is in the food bowl.

Make food a treat/reward

This is one of my favorite ideas. And I can tell you, try it for a week, and you will completely change your dog. Even more, if you can combine it with hand-feeding.

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What is the idea? Well, the idea is to reward your dog for good behavior with food. I use it every night for feeding dinner to my dog Milo.

We go over some basic obedience training, repeat old stuff, work on new ones, work on impulse control, and so on.

Dogs love to work and get rewards. So, use it to your advantage.

Now you try game

Do you remember when we were little kids, our parents would try food, and then offer it to us? Like, this is so good, now you try it?

Well, that is another trick you can use. Pretend the food is yours, and have your dog watch you bringing it to your mouth. Pretend to eat it, and then offer it to your pooch. You can even put a dinner plate if you like to take it to the next level.

Turn feeding into a game

One of the best ways to get a picky eater dog to love food is to turn mealtime into playtime. You can put the food in a toy, and make your dog work for it. Dogs love to play, even those small breeds and apartment toy breeds.

When you turn mealtime into playtime, you also provide some physical activity and mental stimulation. If you want to do it all the time, you can try freezing a Kong toy with food and make it last even longer.

Will my dog starve?

This is a common question among pet parents. Your dog refuses food for a while, and you are afraid you might be starving your puppy. Do not worry, your dog will not starve.

Most dogs will not let themselves starve. They will eat after refusing a few meals. Even if they do not like the food at first.

Also, some dogs self-regulate their mealtimes. Cats do this all the time. And some dogs do it as well. They miss a meal because they do not feel hungry.

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Do not stress too much about your dog not eating. I see a lot of pet parents fall victim to their picky eater dog’s stubbornness and offer tastier and tastier food. Well, if you go down that rabbit hole, there is no end.

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