Do you have a fussy eater on your hands? If your cupboards are stocked with the most delicious and nutritious canine chow that money can buy and you've got plenty of the longest lasting dog chews on hand to reward good behavior, we understand your frustration if your pup is repeatedly turning their nose up at the food that's on offer.
But while it's understandable to be annoyed if food is going uneaten, expert dog trainer and behaviorist Amelia Steele says that while fussy eating can feel challenging to deal with, there are lots of reasons why your pup might not be eating - and rest assured, none of them involve deliberately trying to upset you!
In a video shared to Instagram, Steele breaks down three of the most common reasons that drive fussy eating and what you can do about it. You can watch the video in it's entirety above or keep reading for a summary of the key points.
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1. They don't feel safe
If your first reaction to the idea that your dog doesn't feel safe enough to eat was one of disbelief, you're not alone. If you're anything like most pet parents, you do everything possible to create a secure and loving environment for your fur friend. But it's worth remembering that what feels safe to us may not always feel safe to our canine companions.
According to Steele, one reason your pup might not be eating is that they don't feel safe in the space that you're feeding them. "Some dogs might prefer to have people around when they're eating - I know my dog won't eat unless we're all in the same room - but some dogs might be the opposite. Some dogs struggle to eat in a busy environment, so if it's noisy or there's lots of people around, that can also put them off eating their food."
2. They don't like their food
Yes, sometimes it really can be that simple! Just like us, each dog has their own unique likes and dislikes when it comes to food, with certain brands, textures and flavors getting a big paws up and others getting left untouched in the bowl.
Steele explains in the video that her German Shepherd used to be the fussiest eater, but since switching up his diet, he now can't wait for mealtimes to roll around. "That's why it's so important to find a food that your dog loves," she says.
3. They have an underlying health issue
Whether it's pain or a health issue that you're not aware of, feeling unwell is another reason that your dog might be being fussy when it comes to their food. "It can be really easy to skip straight to training with these things," explains Steele "but it's always important to speak to your vet anytime your dog's behavior changes, including eating patterns."
When it comes to resolving your fur friends fussy eating, we recommend you follow Steele's advice first. "If your dog is struggling to eat or they're not eating like they used to, make sure you book them in for a vet's appointment."
Once you've ruled out any medical reason that may be driving your pups lack of enthusiasm at mealtimes, it's worth considering both where and what you're feeding your dog.
Experiment with changing up the environment in which mealtimes occur. If you serve your dog dinner at the same time you eat and they're not touching their food, try feeding them separately. Likewise, if they normally get fed on their own, try sitting with them to see if they prefer eating in your company.
You might also like to try making some changes to their diet and trialling a different brand of dog food or swapping from wet to dry or vice versa. Before doing this, it's worth speaking to your vet who will be able to offer advice and guidance on how to transition your dog's diet safely.
Enjoyed this piece and considering making changes to your canine companions diet? Then be sure to check out our guide to changing dog food for tips on the best way to make the switch.
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Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.