It is hugely frustrating, not to mention concerning, if as an owner you put down a bowl of food and the dog turns up their nose. You worry they will be hungry or that they're ill, and so rummage in the back of the cupboard for something that's a little more tasty. Bingo! You put down that tuna and the dog wolfs it down. This makes you feel so much better... until their next mealtime. This time, same again. Dog chow goes down and your best buddy turns up his nose.
The tuna is all gone so your raid the fridge to find some chicken breasts. You pop those down, and hey presto, it disappears in a flash.
Can you spot what's going on here?
The dog has learned that if they don't eat their boring old dog food then something much tastier will appear. In fact, you've trained the dog NOT to eat dog food. How so? By rewarding their lack of eating with a tasty snack. This is reward-based training at its most basic (and manipulative... from the dog's point of view.)
So, avoid this pitfall by following the advice below.
Teaching your pup to eat at the right time and the right food should start as soon as the puppy comes home from the breeder. Think about the basics of what you want to achieve, such as eating from their bowl (rather than the table), eating at meal times, and eating their chosen dog food. When following the advice below, be sure to be consistent and that way the puppy will learn quickly what happens at mealtimes and the consequences of not eating is a rumbly tummy.
Be aware that most puppies will come to no harm if they don't eat for a meal or two. Just be mindful of extremely small puppies such as teacup or toy breeds. There is a slight risk of them developing low blood sugar if food is withheld. The way around it with these little guys is to stick with the rules, but offer several small meals over the day so it's never too long until their next mealtime.
Once you begin in earnest you will need: