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Is Your Dog A Picky Eater? Try These 6 Tips & Tricks!

Written by: Dina Fantegrossi
Dina Fantegrossi is the Assistant Editor and Head Writer for HomeLife Media. Before her career in writing, Dina was a veterinary technician for more than 15 years.Read more
| Published on July 12, 2017

When it comes to food, there are two types of dogs: those who live to eat and those who eat to live.

If your pooch lives to eat, pickiness is definitely not a problem in your household!

But for dogs who aren’t motivated by food, convincing them to eat a healthy, well-rounded diet can be quite a challenge.

Image Credit: Flickr | Andrew Vargas

A dog’s eating personality is usually established early on, so it is best to insist on a strict feeding routine right from the start. These 6 tips can help you get off on the right foot or inspire your already-picky-pup to get back on track!

Note: Picky eating can be a symptom of a serious health problem. Dogs that have always been picky, but maintain a healthy weight, active lifestyle and a shiny coat are not as concerning as those who suddenly go off their food and have additional symptoms like a dull coat, poor energy and weight loss. When in doubt, consult your veterinarian.

Tip 1: Get the Entire Family on the Same Page.

Image Credit: Flickr | Paul Bettner

Are you thinking of adding a new canine family member to your household? Dr. Louise Murray, director of medicine for ASPCA’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City, recommends discussing a feeding plan with the entire family first.

“You and your family need to sit down and decide what the rules will be,” Murray says. “And you must all be on the same page. If mom gives food off the plate, but dad plays by the rules, it won’t work.”

Related: 9 Best Dog Foods for Picky Eaters

Tip 2: Don’t Feed From the Table.

Image Credit: Flickr | Ed Schipul

Fresh meat, veggies, beans and whole grains can be excellent nutrition options for your dog. Deciding to feed a raw diet, a homecooked diet, or a mixture of dog food and “human foods” is fine, but skip the rich/fatty/spicy/fried options!

Not only will table foods inspire your pup to hold out for these options over his own healthy food, they can also lead to begging, diarrhea, constipation or serious health issues like pancreatitis.


Tip 3: Keep Dog Food and People Food Separate.

Image Credit: Flickr | Jeffrey W

Want to share your healthy dinner of lean meat and fresh veggies with your dog? That’s fine! Just be sure to serve his portion in his dog bowl, not from your plate or from something you are preparing for yourself. Dogs should never associate your food with their food.


Tip 4: Stick to a Schedule.

Image Credit: Flickr | Laura Washere95

Dogs should eat anywhere from once to three times per day depending on their individual needs. Decide on a feeding schedule and stick with it. If your dog does not eat within 15 to 30 minutes, pick the food up and try again at the next scheduled meal time. Stubborn pups may hold out for something better, but if they get hungry enough, they will eat!


Tip #5: Provide One or Two Healthy Options, Not A Full Menu.

Image Credit: Flickr | Deb West

Dr. Murray says that the reason for a dog’s picky eating habits can usually be found by looking in the mirror.

“If you asked your child would she rather eat spinach or a Twinkie, the answer is obvious. If you’re going to sometimes give your dog bacon for breakfast or steak from your plate, why would you blame him if he shies away from dry dog food?”

Remember, your kitchen is not a restaurant! Decide on one or two meal options that are best for your individual pup and stick with them!


Tip #6: Go Easy on the Treats.

Image Credit: Creative Commons/Live Once Live Wild

We tend to give our pups too many rewards in the form of food which allows them to turn up their nose at dog food and wait for treats and table scraps instead. Every little morsel outside of meal time helps quell their hunger and inspire pickiness. Instead of a treat after every potty break, try rewarding them with a brief play session or a good old-fashioned “Atta boy!”


H/T to WebMD Pets

Featured Image via Flickr | Megumi

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