My dogs are such fussy eaters that it’s driving me crazy. I used to use treats to train them before I found your training system, and I’d give them various food scraps as well. Now they’ve gotten to the stage where they won’t eat their meals unless I give it to them from my hands, and they keep turning their noses up at all types of dog food (even the premium, high quality brands) unless I do something to make it novel.
If I don’t cater to them, they refuse to eat. They’ve even gone days without really eating at all. I became worried about them each time, so I gave in. The only thing they’re guaranteed to consume is the little bit of raw goat’s milk I give them as a reward after eating, and they also really like the bully stick I offer them now and then. Is there any hope for me with my dogs’ eating habits?
Sorry to say, but basically you have created a nightmare for yourself by all the precedents that were set in the early stages including using treat rewards, constantly switching foods when the dogs snubbed one particular type, etc.
Firstly, I would stop giving the dogs any “novel” food such as your leftovers. In the dogs’ minds, why should they settle for the “lower grade” stuff when they can eventually coerce you into giving them the “good stuff”?
Secondly, stop giving them anything other than their regular necessary meals (including the bully stick). Proper/safe chew bones for entertainment and healthy teeth are fine and very beneficial.
Thirdly, decide once and for all what you want to feed your dogs for the best nutrition and then stick to that only each day at predetermined times, and in their designated food bowls only. Never again feed your dogs from your hand(s). If you don’t fully understand the importance of this then I encourage you to read my Blog post titled, “Nature-Based Discipline, Praise & Play Method™ vs. Treats.”
Nutrition is key because your dogs’ bodies will respond positively toward the food that is helping them the best. If you need to mix a bit of the goat’s milk in with the food to entice them then that’s fine, but I would stop giving the goat’s milk to them separately after their meal. If they want it that badly then they will need to eat it along with their food in their designated food bowl. It will work well as the dogs will still be able to smell the goat’s milk even though they won’t see it, and it is very nutritious.
You have to be determined to ride this out and not deviate from your plans. You might even need to endure a few days of them not eating. Your dogs are psychologically manipulating and dominating you when it comes to food and you have to break the cycle.
Generally, a dog will not starve himself, so your dogs will eventually give in. However, for liability reasons I have to recommend that ultimately you do whatever you and your veterinarian deem best.
I hope this helps and encourages you. – Don Sullivan
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