There was this golden time a few months ago when my 3 months old puppy used to get crazy when she smelled her kibbles as I opened the bag to feed her. Suddenly, out of nowhere, she would not want to eat her food anymore. It is not that I used to feed her a lot of human food, but as filler, she would get a few meals safe for dogs like chicken, rice, carrots, curd, and fish. My relatives had come to my place for 3 weeks, and as you know how puppy eyes melt heart, my family could not resist her begging and would give her a little of their food at times. After they returned, I was left to deal with a dog who loves human food and hates her kibbles.
Giving human food to dogs is actually harmful, as it can cause gastrointestinal and other problems which can make the dog sick. That was one of the main reasons I needed to get her food habits back to regular. Here are a few tips that helped her change her habits.
1. Do Not offer free Food Access
Remove any auto kibble feeder if you have one. Also, do not keep the meal bowl down the entire day for the dog to eat. The golden rule is to give your dog 10 minutes to finish the meal. If the dog does not eat the food by then, they will probably not eat it anymore.
Just remove the food and do not feed them till next mealtime. If the dog does not eat even then, again, do the same. Dogs can go on without food for many days, so nothing to worry about.
Repeat this for a few days till your dog learns that this is the only food it gets and eats the food completely. It took 5 meals before my double doodle dog actually started eating her meals back.
2. Only Provide Food in a Dog Bowl
Your dog should eat their food only from its dog bowl. You should not feed them off your plate and use your hand ever. This only leads to destructive behavior and will make your dog want your food more often. Your dog may beg to be hand-fed its meal, but do not buy into the begging.
You should train your dog to eat from the food bowl only. There have been times when my dog just looks at me plainly and begs me to feed her. I feel like feeding her as she would go hungry otherwise, but I put my motherly instincts on hold for her own good.
Remember, it is a dog, not a human child. As canines, they have different rules that we need to stick to so that the dog learns discipline.
3. Make Dog Food More Appetizing
Let us be honest; eating the same kibble for days can get really boring for the dog. We get bored eating the same meal twice a day as humans. Dog food is not always appetizing; hence, you should add a few toppers to make it tastier. You can simply mix the kibbles with a few chicken pieces so that kibbles get coated and the dog will enjoy the meal.
You can use any other source of protein to do the same.
Remember to heat the meat, as the smell of the meat will make the food more appetizing. There are readymade meal toppers available for picky eaters, which you can try as well.
4. Don’t Leave Human Food Sitting Around
If your dog is addicted to human food, you should ensure that no food should be sitting around in your home unattended. This might be an opportunity for the dog to eat the unattended meal. You should also teach your dog to leave any food on the table slowly so that they know their boundaries. Teaching the ‘leave it’ command will help in disciplining the dog.
5. Do Not Feed Them More Treats
Sometimes, when you feed your dog more treats throughout the day, they may just skip their meal entirely. This is because they are getting high valued food throughout the day; hence, why will they want to eat non-appetizing kibbles? Stopping treats ensure they eat their dog food. They need to be hungry, so stop feeding their treats until they are over this bad habit.
6. Exercise Them Enough
When you make your dog exercise enough, they will get tired and hungry. Take them out just before mealtime, and they will feel famished. A dog who does not get enough physical activity has a lot of pent-up energy and can misbehave. Once it is exercised, a lot of issues will get resolved. You can take them out for several walks. To tire them faster, play fetch with them, and they will be physically and mentally stimulated.
7. Be Disciplined in Feeding the Dog
Dogs have a strong sense of time, which is why it is crucial you feed the dog at the same time every day so that they know when to expect the food. If you feed them timely, they will be full and crave less human food. Puppies need to be fed 4 times a day, and as they grow bigger and reach about 6-8 months, you can start feeding them twice a day at 12 hours apart. Gradually, as they get into a routine, the bad habit will slowly leave them.
8. Ensure You Dog Knows Who the Pack Leader Is
One of the main reasons dogs create fuss while eating is because they are not sure who the pack leader is. Your dog may try to dominate you at times and want to be equal. Demanding human food is one of the signs. In the canine world, the pack leader gets to eat the best food; hence, make sure your dog knows who the pack leader is. As you become firm and dominant, your dog will learn this eventually and give up on demanding human food.
Usually, many dogs start demanding different food as they see you have a variety of meals. Once you set some ground rules and be firm about them, they will not want to push the boundaries. If you are a firm pack leader who does not change rules just because your dog goes on a strike, the dog will get the message clear and start eating their dog food and also be grateful about it.
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