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Is yours a finicky dog?

You feed your dog the most nutritious and tasty food you can buy, and he simply sniffs and licks at it. It's time for his next meal but he's not eating. It looks like you have a finicky dog!

You may think your dog wants or needs variety in his diet. In truth, he will happily eat the same food every day for the rest of his life - provided, of course, it is a tasty nutritious meal.

Remember, your dog is descended from opportunistic hunters that were accustomed to getting whatever they could get whenever they could get it.

Bad habits

Frequently, the problem of finicky eating in dogs isn't caused by their behaviour, but ours. Feeding your dog scraps from the table or too many treats can encourage finicky behaviour. Your dog will learn to avoid eating in the hope of getting more exciting food than what's in his bowl. So stop feeding your dog from the table and cut back on treats.

When your dog was younger, if you tried giving him several different foods to 'see what he likes' you may have given the impression that he can hold out for something better. If you're opening multiple cans of food and trying to coax your dog into eating something every meal, then your dog has got you trained.

The most effective way of correcting this behaviour is to help your dog understand that there aren't options. Put out his food for half an hour and if he doesn't eat it, take it away. When it's time for your dog's next meal, put out his food and again take it away after half an hour. After a day or two of this your dog may start nosing around for extra treats. Don't give in and stick to your schedule. Your dog isn't starving. If he's hungry, he will eat. You may have to endure some complaining, but this technique is very effective in stopping finicky behaviour.

Gradual change

If you're changing your dog's diet you should do it gradually. Start mixing in a bit of the new food with the old food, gradually increasing the amount of the new food as you reduce the amount of the old food. This will be very helpful in getting your dog used to the new food and avoid a hunger strike. If you're switching from wet food to dry food, try mixing in a bit of warm water with the dry food. Don't leave out wet food for too long as it may spoil, especially in hot weather.

If your dog just suddenly becomes finicky after not previously displaying this kind of behaviour, he may be suffering from a medical disorder. Watch out for vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy or loss of weight and don't hesitate to take your dog to the vet if you think he's ill.

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