Dog Refuses Food - Eats Trash Instead

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by Crothall, Aug 20, 2010.

  1. Crothall

    Crothall New Member

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    Hello,

    My wife and I adopted a 2 year old female Black Lab a few months ago.
    She's well trained and good natured, great with the kids - we're quite happy with her.
    I'm not sure what her eating habits were before, but when we adopted her we were given a 3/4 full large bag of Pedigree dry food and told that it was what she was accustomed to.
    We noticed that she didn't really take to it though.
    At first we thought it was just due to her settling in, but she began to refuse it all the time.
    Uncertain, we tried other food, which she loved, but this started a trend;

    - Refuses food, refuses to eat.
    - We buy new food
    - Dog loves new food, wolfs it down
    - Three to four days later dog gets tired of it and wants new food.
    - Refuses food, refuses to eat.

    Well I planned to put a stop to that cycle and quick.
    We refused to change up her food.
    And she would refuse to eat.

    We now put her food down and take it up after about 20 minutes if it's not eaten.

    She paces, she knows that the food will go soon if not eaten, but she still refuses.

    (when I say she refuses, she gives in and eats it maybe 20% of the time)

    So how is she surviving without (hardly any) food?

    She's constantly in the garbage or eating the cat food, the second our backs are turned. She knows this is bad, she's submissive the second we walk in the door (often before we even realize what she's done, but her body language says it all).

    This dog has an iron will. It's been 8 months and this is still going on.
    She paces around the house and has the face of a poor mistreated and forgotten dog who's owners aren't feeding her.
    It makes me feel bad, but I KNOW she'll eat the food - she couldn't get enough of it the first time she had it!!

    This is really killing the whole dog ownership experience and making it more stressfull.

    Any tips or suggestions?

    I'm open to any ideas, but I am NOT willing to buy her new food every four days as her whims change.

    Please help.

    I hate feeling like a bad owner.
    :(
     
  2. Kat09Tails

    Kat09Tails *Now with Snark*

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    First off Pedigree is a garbage food. Please don't feed it.

    Feed the cats in a room the dog can't get to. Put the garbage in a spot she can't get to. When your eyeballs aren't on the dog put the dog in a crate.

    Here's how morning routine goes with my lab. I wake up, lab goes outside the back door. I scoop/prepare a bowl of chow, I put it outside the back door. 30 minutes later I pick up the dish. Repeat. No healthy dog will starve themselves. Eventually she will eat and at 8 months she may need to go a couple days but she will eventually eat. Don't hover, and don't punish. The dog doesn't "know" anything.

    This is a management problem.
     
  3. Crothall

    Crothall New Member

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    Interesting, Kat09Tails.
    Is your dog typically an outside dog?
    Or do you just feed your dog outside?


    BTW1
    Pedigree was the food she came with.
    She's on Purina right now.

    BTW2
    She was never, to my knowledge, in a crate.
    I don't suspect that starting her now would go over well......would it?
     
  4. *blackrose

    *blackrose "I'm kupo for kupo nuts!"

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    My dog is like this to, and it is something she has done since she was a puppy. I currently just free feed her. To keep her weight, the bag says to feed 2 cups of food a day so I keep 2 cups of food down in her bowl for her. She'll nitpick at it and eat anywhere from four cups to a half cup a day, sometimes going a day without eating anything. She has stayed at a steady weight so I'm not concerned. When I was giving her a set feeding time (put the food down and pick it up after so many minutes if she hasn't eaten it) she would literally go days without eating and was loosing weight, so offering her food at all times has worked out for both of us. I'm going to switch to a new brand of food with Chloe to see if she will take to it any better or not. Wish me luck!

    So you could try offering her a set amount at all times and see what that does, as that worked pretty well with Chloe.

    You could also try maybe buying a few different kinds of food (in smaller bags) and then rotating them every few days. I know it is cheaper to buy in bulk, so that may get pricey buying multiple small bags of different brands.

    Or you could try adding some tasty tidbits to her dry food. Cooked eggs, beef, chicken broth, unflavored yogurt, spoonful of canned dog food, cooked veggies, chicken...the list goes on. This will keep the main diet the same, but will provide the variaty she obviously wants.

    If you are up to it, switching to a raw diet might be the solution, too. But that is a lot more complex than just buying a different brand of dog food every week. ;) Still, it is something to look in to.

    EDIT:
    Yes, definitally keep the cat food out of the dog's reach, as well as the trash. Chloe will scrounge out cat food any chance she gets and she will counter surf to find food any chance she gets. If you keep everything picked up you don't have the aggravation of her getting in to it.

    AND - Purina isn't such a great food, either. You can check out some of the forums here for what would be a good diet for her. Basically, you want to avoid a grain heavy food (corn, wheat, etc.) and you want to try to find a food heavy in named meat meals.
     
  5. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    I agree. If she's eating cat food and getting into the garbage, she may just not be terribly hungry for her meals.... kind of like eating dessert before your dinner. ;) You might try offering her a smaller amount of food whenever you do feed her, it's possible she's just eating too much at one meal to need to eat a lot at the next meal.

    It's also possible that she could have an underlying health problem; though you'll know if she becomes emaciated. If she's a healthy weight, even a few pounds underweight, there's probably nothing to worry about.

    It's also true that she doesn't "know" it's bad to get into the garbage or the cat food; what you see is her being scared of you being mad at her. Dogs are instinctually scavengers; they will eat what they can find, whenever they find it. They should never be trusted around available food, it is a given that they could eat it.
     
  6. Kat09Tails

    Kat09Tails *Now with Snark*

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    I have six dogs. I separate them at feeding time to prevent squabbles. It just works well to put her outside in the backyard while the little dogs eat inside since she's a bit too big for wildlife to fly away with.

    Willow isn't an entirely outdoor dog, she does spend a lot of time outside in late summer through end of hunting season to keep her coat in condition and acclimated to the chill in the air while wet. Actually next month is when she goes back to being outdoors 24 hrs a day. She'll likely be an inside dog again around Thanksgiving.

    Purina isn't really much better than pedigree. It's still mostly corn and wheat. There are lots of dog chows that are better and protein based. If cost is a consideration even Kirkland (costco) brand is better than purina and half the cost.
     
  7. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    The location where you feed your dog shouldn't really matter, the principle's the same.

    You can certainly train an adult dog to use a crate. IMO crates are extremely important, not only for management situations like this; but if she ever has a medical problem where she should not exercise for days/weeks at a time, if she needs to be boarded, if she needs to stay at someone else's house, etc., crates can be extremely useful and are often absolutely necessary. You can do a search in this forum or in the puppy forum for advice on how to crate train.
     
  8. *blackrose

    *blackrose "I'm kupo for kupo nuts!"

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    And, as something else Chloe does that makes no sense to me...she'll eat her food if the other dog is eating its food. It is like she thinks, "Oh, crap, that other dog is hungry so I have to gobble my food up before he eats it all." But if the other dog isn't eating, she won't either. What can I say: my dog is weird.
     
  9. Maura

    Maura New Member

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    Buy more dog food. This time, get a food whose first ingredient is a meat. Yes, you will pay more for the food, but you will see great benefits from it.

    Put kibble into dog dish. Add water, as much water as kibble. Call dog to you, ask for a sit. When she sits, place dish on floor and say "dinner" in a soft voice. Step back. Walk away. Give her twenty minutes. If she is a slow eater, she may need more time. Pick up dish. Repeat this three times a day. Because she hasn't been eating, her stomach may be too small to eat what she needs in two meals.
     
  10. Crothall

    Crothall New Member

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    Wow.
    A lot of replies, and quick!

    Gyp (short for Gypsy) is not underweight.
    She's actually a bit overweight, believe it or not.
    That's why I'm not afraid of her starving.
    It's more of a matter of getting this under control.
    I've tried switching up her feeding times, to no avail.
    A friend (and former dog trainer) suggested taking up the bowl after 20 minutes to add a sense of urgency.
    Her dogs get so excited at dinner time.
    Mine is so indifferent.
    We've tried other types of food.
    Wet food mixed in with the dry.
    Wet food separate from the dry.
    Water on the dry.
    Dog-branded gravy on the dry.
    All things work great for a day or two, then she just gets bored and it gets wasted.
    That's why I stick to dry food only - cos it can be re-used. ;p
     
  11. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    Trouble is....

    that's a big "if."

    Doesn't it make a lot more sense to say that she's scavenging, that instinctual thing that's kept canines alive for millions of years, since LONG before they ever knew what a garbage can is; rather than saying she does it because she doesn't see you as the pack leader and doesn't understand that it's still your food even when you leave it unsupervised for hours at a time?



    Anyway, if she's overweight it's likely she's simply putting herself on a diet. Just feed her 1/2 or 1/3 the amount of food you normally do, and eventually she'll start eating regularly again.

    Also, adding stuff to the food is ok, but you have to be sure to do it BEFORE you put the food bowl down for her. DO NOT put the bowl down, give her a few minutes to "refuse" it, and THEN put gravy or something yummier on top of it. If you want to put stuff on it, that's fine; but if she doesn't eat what she's offered, then she doesn't eat.
     
  12. ihartgonzo

    ihartgonzo and Fozzie B!

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    You have tried different foods.... but have you tried a PREMIUM food? One that is appropriate for her species (canine)? She's probably finding some actual meat to eat in the garbage, rather than her corn-based nearly vegetarian kibble. As far as maintaining weight, I notice that most dogs fed high grain diets are flabby and bloated. It's hard on their bodies to process so much undigestible matter, as they can only digest 25% of vegetable/grain matter at the most.

    Sometimes our dogs know more about what they should eat than we do. No good kibble comes from a grocery store. Go to your local feed store/specialty pet store, or even a Petco. Find a grain-free kibble with high meat content. Good foods are Orijen/Acana, Nature's Variety Instinct, Wellness Core, Blue Buffalo Wilderness, etc. You will need to feed her much less food as it's very calorie dense, she will slim down, and she will eat happily (more than likely!!!).

    It doesn't hurt and it doesn't make you any less of an ALPHA to add healthy supplements that will spice up her daily kibble. Plain meats, canned salmon, fish oil, cottage cheese, yogurt, boiled veggies, healthy leftovers, and such are a good addition to her kibble and shouldn't make her picky. She might also be more eager to eat if you make her work for it, by soaking the kibble in broth, stuffing it into a Kong, and freezing it! That will also give her some mental stimulation. :)
     
  13. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

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    I agree with the other posters.

    Try feeding her a food that is more appropriate to a carnivore and less appropriate for an herbivore. (those foods you mentioned are primarily grains and very low protein) She might be scavanging because she craves real food. (and no she doesn't know its 'wrong')

    If you ate a diet of straight corndogs and potato chips wouldn't you crave some good healthy food too? Cat food, even the cheap stuff, usually has more meat in it that your average mid range dog food.

    Also ditch the idea of pack leader. Leader is great as long as you aren't worried about being alpha. But dogs aren't pack animals, AND dogs know humans are not strange dogs. Unless you live in the majikal world of reality tv that sort of stuff isn't going to work.
     
  14. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

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    Purina is not a very good food, either. There are a lot of nutrition threads on this site, or check out The Dog Food project (I think it's just thedogfoodproject.com)?

    Don't give in. Be more careful about not letting her get into the cat food or garbage, and other than that, just wait it out. Everyone feels terrible about their dog not eating what they try to feed them, but that's just a bad habit. She's not going to starve, unless there's an underlying medical condition.

    If you adopted her and she's overweight, my guess is her last family put her food down, then offered her table scraps and junk. She probably figures if she waits long enough without eating, she'll get something tastier (and less healthy).
     
  15. Maura

    Maura New Member

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    Labs are known to get fat on corn based foods. Being fat doesn't mean she has been overeating. Rather, it means she has been eating a grain based diet. Again, switch her food to a premium one that has meat as a first ingredient.

    The reason she acts guilty when you find her in the trash is because she reads you. The guilty looking expression is actually a submissive expression. A submission expression because she IS recognizing you as the pack leader. Stop worrying about it.
     
  16. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    I agree with most of the others. I'll just reiterate. Stop watching Cesar Milan on TV....lol...if that's where you're getting this pack leader stuff. He is exceedingly unknowlegable about dogs. He's a showman and that's about it.

    Domestic dogs are not true pack animals. They are primarily hard wired to scavange. (occassionally, to hunt) Scavanging animals are doing so individually and not as a pack in an organized hunt and take-down of large game. No one, "alpha" or otherwise decides when they eat or where other than themselves when they're feral dogs, for example. They'd have starved to death a long time ago and wouldn't have succeeded the way they have as a species, if that were the case. There are good ways to demonstrate that you're a guide or caregiver to your dogs and that you control their resources, dependent on their behavior. That's about training, not a linear heirarchy. The reason to ask for a sit and few second wait before setting the food down and letting him have at it, is to teach a dog manners so he doesn't leap up and knock the food out of your hand, scattering kibble all over the floor. Nice manners make a dog more of a joy to live with. It has nothing to do with rank or social status. The same goes for the reason to train dogs to have some self control in other areas and other obedience skills. Who wants a dog who is pushy and demanding? That's just spoiled, obnoxious behavior that comes from undertraining. It is not the dog scheming to rise to the top of the corporate ladder and to take over your home. They may wind up taking over your home, lol...but that is not their design... to intend to run your life. It is lack of training, lack of communication that makes obnoxious dogs.

    So, to reiterate: the garbage seeking is scavanging behavior. It is not the dog not recognizing you as an alpha or not (wolf, dog or other canid) completely irrelevant. The cowering/submissive look comes from your dog predicting punishment from you, due to a history of punishment...not from "knowing" she's doing "wrong." And certainly not because she is thinking of you as an "alpha" wolf...or dog. An awareness of rank or status is highly unlikely to be what's causing the dog to cower. Scavanging, getting into things is absolutely not wrong from a dog's point of view. It is very RIGHT.

    Prevent your dog from getting into garbage or cat food, as was mentioned. Lock that stuff up. Get a premium dog food that has lots of meat and little to no grain. Some other brands besides the other good ones mentioned: Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover's Soul. (very palatable) Taste of the Wild, even Costco's Kirkland brand if you want something less expensive and still quite good. (you can browse the food forum for more info)

    It's perfectly okay to add a tbsp of cottage cheese, a tiny sprinkling of parmessan cheese makes it nice and smelly, a wee bit of scrambled eggs, a few tiny cut up pieces of chicken for other meat from the night before and add some water. Put it down for 20 minutes and pick it up until next time if it's not consumed. Make smaller meals, but more frequent if you're afraid of wasting it. Leaving any left over in the fridge for a few hours until the next meal will keep it fresh. Or even if you don't, it won't hurt a dog if it's only left out for half a day or so. They can handle bacteria better than we can. If you don't want the dog to get picky and don't want to have to add these things, then don't start. Just add some water. It's suppose to be much better for them to have water added, from the research I've done. I almost always put a little something on my dogs' food just because I love to see them enjoy extra goodies and some of those things add a little extra protein. But I make sure it's very small so as not to disrupt the balance of the planned out ingredients in the food or make them too fat.

    If your dog loses more weight than you think is normal, compared to the amount of food consumed, then I'd recommend a vet check. As it was said, it is quite rare for a dog to starve himself. She'll eat if she's hungry. Just keep the junk food away. And be sure you're not expecting her to eat more than she should for her size and activity level etc.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2010
  17. hankster

    hankster New Member

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    Would having 3 or 4 different types of dry dog food and rotating to a new one every couple of days work? That way you would not be adding any "treats" to the food.
     
  18. Brattina88

    Brattina88 Active Member

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