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Eight Ways to Deal with a Finicky Eater

You've likely had your puppy on the same food for awhile now so it's no surprise if he's starting to turn up his nose at it. Many dogs are finicky eaters, some breeds more than others. The Basenji, Siberian Husky, and the Yorkie are just a few. In the wild, dogs will eat most anything but, in our homes, they learn that some foods are edible and some are fantastic. Even if you're diligent about not feeding your puppy people food, they smell it and see it on the dining table. Never feed your puppy from the table as this whets his appetite for steak and lowers your position as alpha.

There's a difference between a picky eater and a finicky eater. A picky eater will only occasionally refuse to eat and can be easily tempted with a slice of cheese added to his bowl. A finicky eater is what we deal with here, a dog who has decided he's giving up dog food for good. First, you want to rule any health issues out first when a dog makes any behavioral change but if your vet gives your puppy the thumbs up, there are several ways to get him to eat without disrupting his stomach.

Ways to Persuade a Finicky Eater

  1. Lessen the Treats - A finicky eater is more likely to eat if he's not comparing his dog food to a liver treat.

  2. Feed Often - Try feeding smaller amounts three or four times a day.

  3. Exercise - It's good for so many things and it increases a dog's hunger. Try always exercising your pup before a meal.

  4. Spay or Neuter - If you haven't already, fix your puppy. Besides the many health and behavioral benefits, it can help prevent a finicky eater.

  5. Make it Positive - Always make feeding time a positive experience. If your puppy associates it with irritability or punishment from you, he will be less likely to want to eat.

  6. Keep It Quiet - Feed your puppy in a quiet area without children or other dogs mulling around.

  7. Try Different Times - Some dogs eat better in the afternoon, others eat better an hour after you're home. Test it and see what time and situation work best for your puppy.

  8. Resist Temptations - Try the other tips before giving into the urge to tempt your finicky puppy to eat with people food. You'll find that a few pieces of cooked chicken will perhaps tempt him for a time but he'll soon grow bored of that, too.

The proper amount of food is essential for a healthy puppy. A finicky eater can be underweight or even overweight because of the goodies his owner tempts him with. An underweight dog can have trouble with his bone density, and his kidneys and liver and are more prone to skin infections. An overweight dog can have heart trouble and joint trouble.

If all else fails, ham it up. Before you serve your puppy his dinner, raise it close to your face and pretend to eat it saying "Yum!" and "Hmm, hmm!" You may feel silly but remember there's no one around and your puppy won't tell on you.

Advice from Other Dog Owners 

Transitioning Your Puppy to Adult Dog Food

Most dogs, as long as they are gaining enough weight, can transition over to adult dog food when they turn 1 year old. It is easier on their digestive system to start mixing the adult food with their puppy food to get them used to it.

I transitioned my pup over about 7 - 10 days, then by the 10th day he was just eating the adult food. But I would check with your vet before changing his food-just to make sure.

~Rebecca H., owner of Labrador Retriever mix

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