Many owners say that they can not get their dog to eat, that they try to give it in all possible ways and that the dog still prefers not to eat before eating the dry feed.
This is not usually is so radical because the owners, motivated by love for their dog, try at all costs to feed the dog replacing in many cases the dry food for something more appetizing to prevent the dog from going hungry.
When we talk with the owners we find particularities that help us explain and therefore solve the problem more or less quickly. Each case is unique, without a doubt, but in problems of this type we can usually draw general conclusions that help us to propose more or less generalizable solutions.
The first thing to do is analyze the problem in depth for Determine the factors that are influencing. Normally the dog has learned not to eat the feed and to wait for its owner to take pity on him and give him another type of food much more palatable to feed himself. Therefore, in animal learning, the behavior “do not eat feed” is considered a learned behavior based on external stimuli that act as reinforcers. Let’s analyze what the dog does, how we react and then propose solutions to make it clearer.
1st- What does the dog do: eat or not eat?
Normally the problem is not that the dog does not eat nothing but not eat dry feed. In the hypothetical case that it is true that the dog does not eat anything throughout the day it is important to inform the veterinarian in case it could be related to any pathology. See video of our veterinarians: My dog does not eat
If on the contrary we find that the dog does not eat dry feed but that if we put sausages, pâté, wet food, etc. then it does eat, we immediately discard the physical problem and consider it a learned behavior. The latter is usually the most common.
2nd – What do we do?
As we have pointed out before, normally owners have a hard time when they see that their dog does not want to eat and they do everything possible to feed trying to make it think more appetizing. Usually they add pieces of food mixed with the feed, or they add sauces that moisten it. At this point two things can happen: that the dog actually eats the feed or that it eats only the pieces of sausages, ham, etc. and leave the feed in the bowl. In other cases, the owners choose to offer a different food so that they do not go hungry: wet food, rice with meat, etc.
In all these cases, the behavior of the owners reinforces the fact that the dog does not want his I think. No doubt the owners do it with the best intention, but the dogs learn the fact that if they do not eat the feed, sooner or later someone in the family will give them a more appetizing alternative.
3 . What can we do?
The first thing we must do is clarify a couple of concepts.
First of all we must be aware that there are a lot of feed on the market with very different compositions and qualities and that it may happen that dog a particular brand you find unappetizing. I would always recommend in this situation to make a change of feed with a different composition to evaluate if the dog really does not want to eat dry feed because he does not like it.
Water can not be absent but we should know that dogs can not eat several days. The veterinarian does not advise that they are more than two days without eating anything (small dogs no more than a day) in case the sugar goes down. If the dog is giving us a pulse waiting for us to end up giving him the food he likes (sausages, chicken, etc.) he will endure those two days without eating. For this reason we must act in the following way: we hold for two days without giving anything and if the dog does not eat the feed we give it a little food just to avoid lowering glucose but leaving it to remain hungry. This is very important because it is going to be hunger the motivation that leads you to eat feed. Without hunger, we will hardly get him to finish eating dry feed.
It is very important that during the fast we offer nothing but dry feed and water for the treatment to be successful. If we are several members of the family, it is necessary that we first agree on how to act and that we are all in agreement. Nobody should feed him at any time anything else. Nor must we believe in the exceptions (“I give only this little bit now and nothing else”) since this in animal learning is called intermittent reinforcement and as we always warn you, it makes the behavior more difficult to eradicate and more lasting in time
The method is based on theories of animal learning and only works if it is carried out in a rigorous way. We have to make it clear to the dog the following message “the only food there is is the feed; the pieces of turkey, the sausages, the remains of food … “Once the dog catches this message will begin to consider the option” eat feed. “
Some owners may consider this cruel system but nothing is further from the reality. No doubt with the food and intermittent bits with which we feed him if it is not with feed will not meet their nutritional needs, however much you like.
With children we see it much clearer. If we left them and did not force them to eat foods that they do not like like fish and vegetables, they would eat only macaroni and tomato, and no father or mother would feed their son like that.
Another way to try to convert the feed into something more appetizing is to propose a smell job where you have to actively look for the feed. Instead of putting it in your feeder, we scatter it a little so you have to find it using the smell. It is demonstrated that the simple fact of having to search with the sense of smell is satisfying and stimulating for what often becomes a surprising and fast solution.
We encourage you to try this method with determination and firmness to verify that your dog before suffering from hunger will be eating the food cheerfully.