How to Train Your Dog to Eat His Food

Easy
5-110 Days
General

Introduction

You might think every dog should automatically know how to eat his food and be more than ready to do so as soon as you put his bowl down.  But, not all dogs will do so; some are fussy and will spend time sniffing the food, licking it, and looking at it, yet he still will not eat it. What's going on? Isn't he hungry or maybe he just doesn't like his food? If you are under the impression that the reason he won't eat is that he wants variety in his foods, it's possible that nothing could be further from the truth. The simple fact is, your dog will keep eating the exact same food day in, day out for the rest of his life.

It is your job to make sure you offer him a tasty nutritious meal. In fact, chances are good that the biggest reason he won’t eat his food is that you have probably been feeding him table scraps. When he gets used to these tasty morsels, he isn't going to want the dry or canned food you have been putting in his dish. Or perhaps you started him out by offering him several different types of food to see which one he liked the best, now he is simply holding out for a better food. No matter what the cause, now you have to teach him to eat the food you put out for him. 

Defining Tasks

In this particular case, there really isn’t a specific command to teach, such as "Eat" or "Chow Down". It is important that your dog learns to eat, but at the same time, if he takes a day off from eating, it is usually nothing to worry about. Not all dogs eat every day and some need to eat more than once a day. In most cases, training your dog to eat what you put in his bowl is nothing more than a matter of time and patience. You can teach a dog of any age to eat what you put out for him; in most cases, it could be no more than waiting until he is hungry enough to eat.

Remember, your dog will not starve himself to death, he will only go without eating until he can no longer stand being hungry. Be patient and in time he is sure to put his nose down in the bowl and start scarfing down his food. 

Getting Started

If your dog is being fussy about his food or seems to be refusing to eat what you put down, patience is the only real tool you need. Be sure to keep his food bowl in the same location at all times and pick it up when he is done eating.  Try to pick a quieter spot in your house such as the kitchen floor and choose a time when no one is likely to be in there to disturb him while he eats. Again, there aren't any real commands you need to use to make him eat, you just have to be patient. 

The Single Food Method

Most Recommended
1 Vote
Step
1
Choose the food
Choose one food that you know your dog normally likes to eat
Step
2
Put his food down
Put a bowl of it down at the normal feeding time (try to find a different time than family dinner time).
Step
3
No more than 30 minutes
Leave the bowl in place for no more than 30 minutes.
Step
4
If he won't eat
If he doesn’t eat, take the bowl away.
Step
5
He will eat
It might take him a couple of days before he is hungry enough to eat. But you can bet when he finally gets hungry enough, your pup will eat. It might take a few sessions like this, but he will eventually get tired of going hungry.
Recommend training method?

The Schedule Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Start at three times a day
When your dog is a puppy, feed him two or three times a day.
Step
2
Cut back
Over time, you can whittle this down to once or twice each day.
Step
3
Same time every day
Be sure you always put his food down at the same time every day without fail. In time, he will associate the time of day with when his food comes.
Step
4
Same food, same everything
Use the same food and the same amount every time you feed your pup.
Step
5
Consistency is key
Consistency is the key to getting a fussy eater to eat what he is given when he is given it. Keep in mind that no matter what type of training method you decide to use to convince your dog to eat, there are going to be days when he simply won't eat because he may not feel well or he simply isn't hungry. If for any reason your pup won't eat for several days, you should take him in to see his vet for an examination to make sure his lack of appetite isn’t due to a medical condition.
Recommend training method?

The Time Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Half rations
Start by putting half of his usual amount of food in his bowl and putting it on the floor in his usual spot.
Step
2
Count to five
Count to five and see if he is eating, if not, remove the bowl and put it away without saying a word.
Step
3
Wait to try again
Wait for a full 12 hours and try again.
Step
4
Full rations
If he eats, then wait another 12 hours and put out his regular amount.
Step
5
Try again
If after he starts eating he stops eating his full amount, remove the dish and start the process all over again. Remember it is your job to make sure he has plenty of food to eat, but it is his job to choose whether he eats it or not. All you can do is teach him to take advantage of the food you provide.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Jack
Siberian Husky
2 Years
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Jack
Siberian Husky
2 Years

He needs his meals to be fed to him I wanna how to train him to eat by himself

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Brownie
Pomeranian
5 Months
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Brownie
Pomeranian
5 Months

Actually sir my puppy wont eat his food him self if ifeed him by my hand then he eat his food but it took more and more time in a day So what can i do for that. Plz sir help me

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
776 Dog owners recommended

Hello, First, make sure that you are feeding him the right amount. Some overweight puppies and dogs are picky eaters if they are being fed too much. If his weight is good, try feeding him three times a day. Place him in a crate or calm room with his food bowl for thirty-minutes. If he does not eat the food during that time, remove the food again. Repeat this three times during the day. Make sure that the room is very small and completely calm so that he will relax enough to focus on eating if he is hungry. Give this 24 hours to work. If he is just being picky, he should get hungry enough to eat within 24 hours and will eat on his own eventually. Some dogs don't like to eat first thing in the morning and won't finish all their food until night - if he doesn't have a blood sugar issue this should be alright as long as the food is being offered often enough. Second, if placing the food down and taking it up for 24 hours doesn't get him eating on his own, then I would look into a possible food allergy or him not liking the food you are feeding. Gradually switching to another dog food may help. Look for a dog food that uses a different meat or different grains than what you are currently feeding in case their is a sensitivity to something in the food. Ask your vet for further details. Make the switch over the course of a week or two to avoid upsetting his stomach. Third, if the issue isn't the food either, and he is simply a picky eater, then you can mix something into his food to make it more enticing. Place his meal kibble into a ziplock bag and crush up dog food toppers - usually freeze dried meat treats, into the ziplock bag with his dog food. Shake the bag and treat powder up, then let the food sit in the powder overnight. The next morning feed him in his bowl like normal - but this time the food should taste like the powder to help tempt him to eat it. You can also try mixing a little goats milk or low sodium chicken broth into his food if your vet okays it. (I am not a vet). Finally, if non of those things work or he is getting worse quickly, then go see your vet immediately. A number of medical issues can be related to him not eating well. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Nonu
Pomeranian
3 Years
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Nonu
Pomeranian
3 Years

hi my Pomeranian dog is 3 years old and its a female. she doesn't eats by herself. I have to feed her by my hands and that too forcefully. how can i get rid of this problem and how can make her eat by herself

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
776 Dog owners recommended

Hello Shivani, First, I suggest checking with your vet. An underlying medical issue could be to blame, such as a imbalance in bacteria, food allergy, GI issues, infection, dental issue, ect...I am not a vet so check with your vet. You may also want to switching her to another type of food - ideally one that has different main sources of protein and carbs in case she has an allergy to something in her other food. Check with your vet and do this only under their guidance. When you make the switch, do it gradually over a two week period to avoid GI upset. It's also very likely she simply doesn't like the food she is currently eating or just can't digest it well. If the above don't help, try purchasing a kibble topper like stella and chewy freeze dried meat, and crush it up into a powder, mix the power with her dog food in a ziplock and let it sit overnight. Feed her that food the next day so the kibble is scented and flavored like the food. Place the food into the bowl in a room without distractions and leave her in there with it nearby. Give her 45 minutes. If she hasn't touched it by then, remove the food and try again at lunch, then again at dinner. Some dogs are not hungry in the morning or hold out to be hand fed. See if she will end up eating the food by the end of the 24 hours if your vet approves. Make sure the environment where you are feeding is calm and boring - many dogs won't eat with people and distractions around. If you are still struggling, try switching to something like ZiwiPeak dog food. You can also increase interest by having pup work for the food - instead of just giving it for free. Have pup perform a command for a few pieces of kibble at a time - having to work for food can actually increase food drive. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Joy
Poodle
4 Years
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Joy
Poodle
4 Years

My dog won’t eat his dog food. He’s already 4 years old and never ate his dog food. Last couple of months we tried mixing the dog food dry and wet with meat ( beef and chicken) he only eats the meat and leaves the dog food. How can we teach him to eat his dog food? And is it safe to leave him hungry for couple days so that he will start eating the dog food?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
776 Dog owners recommended

Hello Meri, As far as the medical side of things - I would ask your vet. Some dogs can easily go 2-3 days safely and will eventually learn to eat simply by only offering them the dog food. Other dogs get low-blood sugar and that's not a safe option for them. Consult your vet on what to do based on health questions (I am not a vet). Purchase a freeze dried kibble topper such as stella and chewy's or nature's variety - see if pup likes the freeze dried meat. If he does like they, crush the meal topper into powder, place it in a ziplock bag with pup's dog food overnight - so that the powder flavors and makes the kibble taste good, then feed pup that dog food. If pup likes freeze dried kibble toppers, you also might want to look into switching pup's food to something like Ziwi peak - which is a dog food brand that's based on freeze dried meat - but with the convenience of a kibble. Another option is to soak pup's food in goat's milk in the fridge until the kibble tastes like the milk but pup has to eat the kibble to get that flavor - how well this works will depend on whether pup likes the goats milk - many dogs do. Ask your vet about pup's weight too. If pup is overweight or you are feeding too much that can lead to picky eating. If pup is underweight or generally seems to have a sensitive stomach, then there could be a medical reason for the picky eating that needs to be discussed with your vet - even something like a lack of digestive enzymes, lack of good bacteria, food allergy, low blood sugar from going too long between meals, parasites, or pain could cause a low appetite. (I am not a vet though so ask your vet if you suspect something medical). Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Joy
Poodle
4 Years
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Question
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Joy
Poodle
4 Years

My dog won’t eat his dog food. He is already 4,5 years old but never ate a dog food. Last couple of months we tried to mix the dog food dry and wet with meat ( beef or chicken), he eats only the meat and leaves the dog food. How can we teach him to eat his dog food? And is it safe to leave him hungry for couple days and will he start eating the dog food? I know that poodle is very cranky breed, but we need to teach him to eat the dog food. How should we do that?

So what do you feed your dog. Ours does not eat either. Please help!!

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Lexa
Rottweiler
3 Months
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Lexa
Rottweiler
3 Months

Lexa does not know to wait, she just jumps over the bowl the moment i place it. How can i teach her to eat at command?

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Josie
Yorkshire Terrier
14 Years
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Josie
Yorkshire Terrier
14 Years

My dog has been on small breed Kibbles for 14 years. We have had to transition her to low-fat diet due to pancreatitis. She has no interest in the large Kibbles, possibly due old teeth??, so I'm trying canned food. She doesn't seem to be able to get the idea to bite at the food, she licks and licks at it and hardly gets any and gives up. Then it is packed flat and there is no hope of getting any in her mouth. Any tricks for getting her to actually learn 2 bite the food and not lick at it.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
776 Dog owners recommended

Hello Ellen, I would start out by adding more texture to her food to help her get the concept. Use some of the hard kibble and either place it into a ziplock bag and use a meat mallet to pound it up into smaller pieces, or place it into a food bowl, cover it with water and let it sit out until it starts to get mushy. See if she will eat either of those two options. At that point you can either stick with the hard kibble crushed up or softened, or mix that more texturized food with some of the moist food. At first just a spoon full or so so that the food tastes like the moist food and has a bit more water but is mostly in larger pieces to bite. As she gets to where she is doing well with the mixture, gradually add more and more of the soft food and less and less of the harder food overtime. You can also try rolling the moist food into little balls and hand feeding her those as if they are treats for a bit. Once she gets the hang of eating those, roll some up and place them on a plate with some space between each of them. Gradually add more and more of the food to the balls on the plate overtime as she adjusts to taking bites out of the softer food and eventually no longer needs it to look like her old kibble pieces rolled up. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Teddy
Poodle
1 Year
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Teddy
Poodle
1 Year

He doesn't want to eat. No matter what I give him, he won't eat.I have to beg him to eat just a litle bit. He went 2 days without eating and then he threw up. Don't know what to do. Took him to the vet, he said he has some tummy issues because of the bile, give him some injections, but he still doesn't eat. How can I make him eat and stoo begging him to eat?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
776 Dog owners recommended

Hello Andreea, I suggest a return to your vet or consulting another vet. This sounds like a medical issue, not just a behavioral issue. I am not a vet. Once the medical issue is dealt with, you can try using more enticing food, like Ziwi peak, and real food - based dog food. Having pup perform simply tricks and commands and feeding the pieces of food as treats can sometimes make food seem more enticing to a dog as well, but whatever is going on medically needs to be addressed. Speak with your vet about what type of food would be easiest for them to digest with their particular issue. Pup may need something that's low in fat or low in protein in order to be able to digest it. It sounds like another vet consult is needed. Get a second opinion if you feel one is needed. There is also an ask a vet section of wagwalking.com. I would suggest asking this question there as well. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Joey
Poodle/Chihuahua mix
7 Months
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Joey
Poodle/Chihuahua mix
7 Months

I rescued my puppy at a local shelter. I've never seen this in a dog. I'll put some wet food out for him, and instead of opening his mouth and eating it, he will just push his snout into it. Its as if he needs to be taught to eat. It looks like he also uses his snout to try to flip the bowl of food over. What is the best way to get him to eat his wet/dry food?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
776 Dog owners recommended

Hello Shawn, First, I would start with a heavy bowl pup can't flip to discourage him from even trying - like a food safe ceramic type bowl or glass bowl. Second, pup may figure out eating on his own after a few meals - it's possible that the wet food is new to him and that's why. It may be worth experimenting with just dry food to see if he does better with that, then very gradually add wet food to that if you prefer to feed wet, or a combination. Pup may not know how to approach the pudding-like consistency if it's new, so making it chunkier and easier to bite can help. If the dry food doesn't work to help pup make the transition, I would put a little of the food on something like a shallow small plate, hold it out to put and praise pup whenever they lick and nipple/eat the food, and calmly pull the food back if he tries to shove his nose into it, then count to three and offer the plate again. Praise pup and let him keep eating whenever he successfully licks, nipples, or otherwise attempts to eat the wet food. I suspect this is specifically an issue with the food being wet food - I have seen a dog used to dry food do similar when first introduced to wet, and it was because of the change in consistency. I also recommend breaking the wet food up so it's a bit more chunky looking, instead of a smooth surface at the top of the food, so pup can bite at it a little better. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Pika
Shiba Inu
1 Year
0 found helpful
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Pika
Shiba Inu
1 Year

Dog won't eat at all, the take away food method doesn't work because she will just starve. She will eat bare minimum to survive. Half a cup of dry food every 2 days. If we mix it with wet food, she picks out the wet food. How can we get her to reliably eat dry food?

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Hello, you may want to take Pika to the vet to rule out a medical issue just in case. Her teeth will be checked as well, to ensure there is not a problem there. After you are certain her health is fine, I would suggest that you add a little low-sodium broth to her food to make it more palatable - you can also let the vet know that she is having eating issues and perhaps they can recommend a food. I do think the veterinarian is the best one to help you with the problem as I am concerned she will lack the proper nutrition to grow if she does not eat enough. All the best to little Pika!

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Gus
Border Collie
11 Years
0 found helpful
Question
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Gus
Border Collie
11 Years

He always looks scared to eat. He'll hover over his bowl, frozen and then stare at me. He'll starve himself until he's brining up bile, it's worse at night. What in his behaviour am I not understanding? How can I help him to feel comfortable enough to eat his food? It's beengoing on for 6 months now

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
210 Dog owners recommended

Hi there. Due to his age, he may have a health issue going on. Dogs are resource driven so they will usually eat no matter what is going on. If a dog suddenly stops eating, it could be due to pain. I would consult a veterinarian.

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bhairav
Labrador Retriever
6 Months
0 found helpful
Question
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bhairav
Labrador Retriever
6 Months

Hi Trainer, My 6 months lab puppy doesn't chew food at all..I started giving food in the slow feeder bowl but still there is no improvement,he eats too fast. Could you please tell me the solution

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
210 Dog owners recommended

Hello! One of the only other tricks besides a slow feeder is something called a buster cube. It is a large plastic ball or block and they roll it around and it releases a few pieces of food at a time. That might be the best solution. I am dealing with a similar issue with my own puppy! The buster cube seems to really help with the digestion issues he was having. And it also keeps him entertained for a good 20 minutes!

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Zeke
Maltese
5 Months
0 found helpful
Question
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Zeke
Maltese
5 Months

He is very picky about food and likes to eat table scraps

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Hello, be careful not to give Zeke only table scraps as this can lead to issues like pancreatitis (from rich or fatty foods that a dog's body finds tough to digest). Speak to your veterinarian about the problem and they can recommend a highly palatable food that may pique Zeke's interest. If you find that Zeke will not eat food without table scraps, try to make the amount you mix in as small as possible. Stick to bland foods like boiled chicken (no spices), white rice, shredded mild cheese - but not too much, and low sodium beef broth. Bits of scrambled eggs without salt and pepper is another choice. Fresh vegetables like broccoli (no spices) are good as well. All the best to Zeke!

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Aella
Kelpie x phu quoc
20 Months
0 found helpful
Question
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Aella
Kelpie x phu quoc
20 Months

Super anxious all the time and won’t eat food.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
776 Dog owners recommended

Hello Rachel, I would work with your vet and a trainer who specializes in behavior issues like fear in person. I would need a thorough history and details on pup's behavior, fears, and environment to offer detailed advice, to address underlying fears. Many dogs won't eat while highly stressed. If the stress can be addressed through behavior modification or changes in the environment the stress should decrease and pup feel like eating again. If there is a medical issue, that would need to be evaluated and addressed with your vet. (I am not a vet). If pup is crate trained and not fearful of the crate, sometimes crating pup in a quiet location away from others with their food and something tempting in the food like goats milk or powdered freeze dried meat meal toppers can help a dog relax enough to want to eat. Pay attention to how pup is drinking also since dehydration is the first concern if pup also isn't drinking. Some dogs are allergic to certain ingredients, so sometimes switching to a different kibble very gradually, with different protein and carb sources, avoiding some of the major allergens, can help if the issue is pup's appetite and not just behavioral or another medical issue. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Charlie
Cavalier Bichon
2 Years
0 found helpful
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Charlie
Cavalier Bichon
2 Years

Charlie wouldn't eat his food no matter what method I try because he's been hand-fed since we got him. How do I break him out of the habit?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
776 Dog owners recommended

Hello Nari, First, I recommend having pup work for the hand feeding - give pup commands and give pup a couple pieces of food each time they obey to get them into a working mindset. Second, instead of handing pup the food by itself when they obey, start giving pup dog food stuffed chew toys that are loosely filled with kibble, and setting things like a kong wobble down for pup to interact with - you want pup to feel like they earned the reward and its fun. Once pup is eating food out of the hollow chew toys, like kongs, and kong wobble regularly, then try taking the top off of the kong wobble, which turns the wobble into a red bowl. You can also try having pup perform commands for their treats for a while, then instead of handing the treat to pup after they obey, drop the treat into their bowl at their paws each time they obey. As they improve and are motivated to earn the food, drop larger and larger amounts of food into the bowl, until you are simply telling pup to sit before a meal and putting all of their food into a bowl. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Buddy
Maltipoo
10 Months
0 found helpful
Question
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Buddy
Maltipoo
10 Months

He is constipated and a picky eater

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
776 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kavita, It sounds like the picky eating is likely related to the constipation, and actually a sign of a digestive issue that needs to be addressed with your vet. Pup may need a change in diet, a probiotic, or something else medical that needs addressing to help normalize their digestion so that they feel more like eating. I am not a vet. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Mustard
Staffordshire Terrier
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
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Mustard
Staffordshire Terrier
3 Years

I think my dog is just spoiled. Having trouble getting him to eat his special diet dog food .

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
776 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sunny, To get him to eat dog food again, I suggest mixing his food with something he likes the night before feeding him. Start with a higher quantity of food he likes and a bit of dog food, then gradually increase the dog food and decrease the food he likes overtime. Test out freeze dried meat dog food toppers, like stella and chewy or nature's variety first. If he likes those, crush them into a powder in a ziplock bag, then place that and some of his dog food in the bag overnight to flavor and scent the food. Feed that regularly if he will eat it, then gradually decrease how much powder you use and increase the dog food slowly in place of it - go slow so that eating the new food has become habit and he doesn't think about it changing gradually so keeps eating it. If pup is on a special diet due to health, consult with them about what's safe and not safe first. I am not a vet. If he likes the kibble topper, you can also feed something like Ziwi peak or nature's variety raw boost long term - which is composed of freeze dried food or has it mixed in, if that's in your budget. If pup doesn't like the freeze dried stuff, then do the same thing but use things like minced chicken, liver paste, or goats milk mixed with the dog food and refrigerated overnight (you may want to do the goats milk last minute because it will get soggy though). Another option, is to have pup work for all of their kibble. Have pup perform commands and tricks and use the dog food that has been mixed with freeze dried powder from a ziplock bag, as rewards for pup obeying commands. Many dogs are actually more enthusiastic about their food if they have to earn it and consider it a treat. Feed pup entire meal amounts this way so that he is hungry during training in place of the bowl for a while. When you do so, act like the food is treats - you should act like you have a great prize not like you have to temp pup to eat. It may seem opposite but what a dog can't have without working for it, often makes it even more appealing. Once pup is working for their food, decrease the extra flavored powder so that pup is just eating kibble as treats. You can also start putting some of pup's food in a hollow toy, like a Kong or kong wobble and have pup earn it that way, then transition to toys that are bowl like - such as a kong wobble with the top screwed off - sort of tricking pup into eating out of a bowl again, once they associate eating with something fun. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Chancho
Boston Terrier
4 Years
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Chancho
Boston Terrier
4 Years

My dog won’t eat his kibble at all. We usually gave him kibble mixed with ham but now we thought we would only feed him kibble but he won’t eat it alone. What should I do?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
776 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jose, If pup won't eat even with the added ham, I highly recommend a trip to your vet to check for a medical issue. If pup will eat the human food fine and is simply turning up his nose at the plain food, I recommend gradually decreasing the amount of ham included in the food overtime. Feed pup 2-3 meals per day. Give pup 45 minutes to eat and if pup isn't eating at all after 45 minutes, remove the food until the next mealtime, then give that meal's worth of food plus the amount not eaten in the previous meal. I would also try using puzzle toys, dog food stuffed kongs, kong wobbles, or similar toys, and using the kibble as training treats. Sometimes having pup work for their kibble can actually make it more desirable - with you acting like it's something tasty they want. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Bella
Newfoundland
9 Months
0 found helpful
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Bella
Newfoundland
9 Months

Hello. When we got Bella she was 8 weeks. Was very sick with worms etc. We got this all cleared up and vet says she's at a healthy weight. 85 pounds. Unfortunately, unless we put something in her food she refuses to eat. We have tried the pick up bowl, maybe she'll eat tomorrow approach. Not working. We have 2 other dogs, great Pyrenees. We thought she would learn from them. However, my Pyrenees don't eat everyday, it's just how they have always been. All 3 are inside dogs. As far as treats during the day, it's one bone each. We wouldn't worry as much if the Newf wasn't a puppy. Suggestions, thoughts?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
776 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kathy, I would check with your vet about potential food allergies and whether a food with different primary protein and carb sources should be tried, if pup is in need of a probiotic after their infections, and adding something to the food to make it more appealing. To add something, first I could try purchasing freeze dried kibble toppers, crush some of the topper into a powder in a baggie, then add pup's daily food amount to the bag, shake it together and let it sit in the powder overnight. The next day, feed meals out of that bag so the kibble is scented and flavored like the topper. You can gradually decrease the amount of powder used when pup is older and eats better, or switch to a food that already includes a topper as part of the formula, like Ziwi peak and nature's variety. You could also ask your vet about adding goat's milk to pup's food or unsalted liver paste. Check with your vet about anything you do with the food though to ensure it will still meet pup's nutritional requirements (I am not a vet). Finally, feeding pup their food as treat rewards and in toys can actually increase interest. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Abbu
Shih Tzu
1 Year
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Abbu
Shih Tzu
1 Year

Hello,

My dog is about to be 2 years old, and we are struggling to feed him food. He is so stubborn, and he only eats his food when we give him some of ours. We know this isn't a sustainable habit.

We usually give him goat milk for lunch and actual dog food for dinner. For both meals, it is a huge struggle to get him to eat. Sometimes he will finish only half his food or not eat at all. Please give us any tips to make him eat his food. Apart from that, he is a good dog.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
776 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sheshu, I suggest mixing his food with something he likes the night before feeding him. Start with a higher quantity of food he likes and a bit of dog food, then gradually increase the dog food and decrease the food he likes overtime. Test out freeze dried meat dog food toppers, like stella and chewy or nature's variety first. If he likes those, crush them into a powder in a ziplock bag, then place that and some of his dog food in the bag overnight to flavor and scent the food. Feed that regularly if he will eat it, then gradually decrease how much powder you use and increase the dog food slowly in place of it - go slow so that eating the new food has become habit and he doesn't think about it changing gradually so keeps eating it. If he likes the kibble topper, you can also feed something like Ziwi peak or nature's variety raw boost long term - which is composed of freeze dried food or has it mixed in, if that's in your budget. While doing this, do not give him your food. I would consult your vet about how long you can let him go without eating if he holds out trying to get your food. Many dogs can be perfectly fine not eating for 2 days if they choose, as long as they are drinking, others can't miss a meal due to blood sugar. Check with your vet. (I am not a vet) If pup doesn't like the freeze dried stuff, then do the same thing but use things like minced chicken, liver paste, or goats milk mixed with the dog food and refrigerated overnight (you may want to do the goats milk last minute because it will get soggy though). The difference is that the amount needs to be decreased and dog food increase overtime gradually, instead of just giving pup that in place of his other food when he holds out for it. Another option, is to have pup work for all of their kibble. Have pup perform commands and tricks and use the dog food that has been mixed with freeze dried powder from a ziplock bag, as rewards for pup obeying commands. Many dogs are actually more enthusiastic about their food if they have to earn it and consider it a treat. Feed pup entire meal amounts this way so that he is hungry during training in place of the bowl for a while. When you do so, act like the food is treats - you should act like you have a great prize not like you have to temp pup to eat. It may seem opposite but what a dog can't have without working for it, often makes it even more appealing. Finally, it would be worth consulting your vet about this if you haven't done so lately. If pup seems unusually picky and won't eat even after 24 hours, I would make sure there isn't something from a GI stand point that needs addressing, like an allergy, bacterial imbalance, parasites, ect..(I am not a vet though, so check with them). Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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