Urgh!

Discussion in 'Dogs - General Dog Chat' started by jaxen, Aug 24, 2012.

  1. jaxen

    jaxen New Member

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    I love my little adopted buddy, but his persnickety attitude toward food is driving me up a wall. I have invested hundreds of dollars in treats and healthy foods of every type, but I have been completely unsuccessful at finding a dog food or treat he will eat consistently.

    He literally turns his nose up at canned food, dry food, and even people food (unless he can sneak under the kid table at dinner). I have tried every kind of protein base too; bison, lamb, beef, veal, fish, and chicken (which I believe he's allergic to). I have tried several grains cooked specially for him including brown rice and sweet potatoes. The only thing he eats consistently is ground hamburger cooked and warm. I have to mix it in with his dry food at more than a 50% hamburger mixture or he will smell it and walk away. I can tell he's hungry because he comes and asks to be fed. He came to me very thin, and I've managed to put some weight on him, but not by much.
    I have tried conditioning him to eat the food he's given by giving him his food twice a day for 30 min and if he doesn't eat then I take it away. The problem is I have 4 small children and no matter how I lock him up during meal time, and no matter how quick I am with clean-up he will get 2 bites of mac and cheese left on the ground and he's set for 3 days of starving himself. Which of course is when I cave and finally feed him something I know he'll eat.
    One of my problems is that he has behavioral issues when he's hungry. He digs in the yard and chews on the kids toys and is more hyperactive. He is the perfect dog when I can get him to eat. I feel like I'm dealing with a picky 2 year old and all of the fun issues associated with a hungry child.
    He was fed kibbles and bits when I first got him and honestly I think he ate only a couple bites a day. I knew right away that I wanted to get him on an all natural diet, but man it has been an uphill battle. He was so so thin when I got him, his ribs and hip bones were very prominent. So I'm fairly certain he has always had this issue. Otherwise he's healthy.

    The biggest upside is that when he's hungry I can teach him anything. I have found one treat he will take if he's been avoiding his food bowl. So in the first month I had him I taught him nearly a dozen tricks with my 4 loud distractions running around. He's not great with anything that involves self control when he's hungry, these skills improve much slower.

    So anybody else have a mega picky eater?
     
  2. Kilter

    Kilter New Member

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    What I would do is feed ONCE a day, and give him 10 minutes max. If he came here, he'd also learn the 'you walk away, you're done' rule. Meaning if you are so fussy you're going to sniff and walk away and think about eating, it's not going to be there when you return.

    You can continue to add goodies if you like, I would suggest green tripe since most dogs will go insane for it. You can get it frozen, canned and even dried and soft enough to break up and mix. But honestly if he's picky, I wouldn't mix stuff in and then have to toss the food.

    If it's raw at least you can put it in the fridge/freezer till next meal, so that's an option too.

    Just put the food down, wait ten, and pick it up. You might have to leave him alone to eat, just see if that works (I had one dog that would not eat if I was watching him, very soft dog, but leave the room and he'd eat fine).

    I would do the ten minute rule consistantly for at least 2 weeks too, if he knows you'll cave, he'll wait, if there's not much option wise, he'll eat sooner or later. Another trick is to feed less than what you think he should eat, like half, when training him to finish his dinner.
     
  3. JessLough

    JessLough Love My Mutt

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    You're showing him that if he doesn't eat it, it's ok cause he'll just get yummy stuff. You're teaching him to be picky.

    Majority of dogs will not let themselves starve to death. If he doesn't eat his kibble, he doesn't get to eat. It's kibble or nothing. Id' do the routine Kilter does.
     
  4. jaxen

    jaxen New Member

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    Let me be clear... I quit using treats after our first month when I was certain he would not eat anything I gave him. After a very unsuccessful round of "15min down and take it away" for the first week without getting him to eat a single bite; I got back to research. This was also the week he started digging up the back yard. (A habit he only repeats when he's hungry) One trainer suggested adding a bit of people food and tapering it off until they were just eating their food. I then fed him a mixture of hamburger and dog food and attempted to taper it over week or so, but he quit eating as soon as I lessened it.

    That's when I got stubborn and put my foot down. So for the next three weeks I fed him one meal a day for 15 minutes. I replaced training with treats to training with his favorite rope toy. Over the course of those 3 weeks he got out of his kennel 2 or 3 times before I was completely done cleaning up (this was unavoidable as I was cleaning while my helpful 2 yr old was saving his sad faced buddy) Each time he would sneak a tiny bite of something and be set for days. I have taught him "leave it" (this is really hard for him but he does it), but I don't always catch him in time.

    He's 2 years old and I've had him for just over two months. I know you can train a dog to do just about anything, but please believe me when I say I have tried all of the default techniques.

    I may try feeding him in a quiet room away from the kids and noise though. He certainly gets nervous when someone is around while he eats. And the green tripe you mentioned; is there someplace I can get a sample? I would try anything at this point. As of right now all the dog foods I have tried have gone to make my Mom's sweet old dachshund happy.
     
  5. MericoX

    MericoX Roos, Poos, & a Wog!

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    Feed him in his crate. He gets his food for 15 minutes, he doesn't eat... too bad so sad. Crate him when everyone else eats so there's no possible chance for him to sneak something. He won't starve himself to death, he'll eventually cave in and eat.

    Kiba got to a point where she got picky because I stopped adding things in her dish. It took her a few days but she finally caved in and started eating again.
     
  6. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

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    I'm looking at this from a different perspective, as someone who owns an animal who *will* starve himself to very near death (or would, maybe we finally have a handle on it).

    I'd be doing some intensive vet work ups. I've spent 7 years or so on this roller coaster with my horse. We'd written it off as behavioral for a long time after thousands of dollars of testing came back with no results. Very last ditch effort was to try corticosteroids, and low and behold, he's eating like a champ for the first time in a long time.

    I got a lot of the "just give him a handful and if he doesn't eat it, take it away", "don't try to tempt him with treats" and such, and he dropped nearly 20% of his body weight. I don't like to blame anything on behavioral issues until I have done everything in my power to rule out a physical cause.

    For now, I'd be mixing in whatever to get him eating and maintaining some level of condition if he is significantly underweight right now. And I'd be talking to my vet if you haven't already.
     
  7. stardogs

    stardogs Behavior Nerd

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  8. jaxen

    jaxen New Member

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    The funny thing is he's hungry...He doesn't lack an appetite at all, he just doesn't like anything I have to offer. He was adopted, but not fixed (don't ask me how that happened) so he'll be in to the vet soon to remedy that and this will certainly come up in the conversation.

    When we first fed him hamburger and dog food mixed he ate every bite. He gained weight and started to look like the muscular little jack russell he is, but now he's dropping weight again. He's not down to his previous weight yet, but he'll get there soon at this rate.

    The post Stardogs mentioned had some good points about routine. I mentioned before that I'm the mother of four, so I am fully aware of how a routine can effect the efficiency of a given day. I'll implement those into our day, but I have to say I don't think they will make a difference.
     
  9. Kilter

    Kilter New Member

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    If you have switched foods that often in a 2 month period, that's likely not helping either - since he's learning that you'll go buy him new food sooner or later.

    You should think 'gradual' in the form of months, not weeks. Mix burger in, gradually (a teaspoon at a time) reduce it if that's the route you want to take.

    You should be able to buy canned green tripe where you'd get better quality dog foods. I think the brand name is 'trippette'. Good, stinky stuff!

    And yes, there are dogs that will starve themselves to death but I'd say that's a huge minority of the fussy dogs out there, that are mainly taught that if they hold out long enough, new, different food will come their way.

    He might prefer a raw diet if he likes hamburger, just a thought.
     
  10. CrazyDogLady

    CrazyDogLady New Member

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    Agree with the above poster. I have a VERY picky Chihuahua, and she adores raw. Its the only thing I know she will eat reliably.
     
  11. PWCorgi

    PWCorgi Priscilla Winifred Corgi

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    If he likes hamburger, does he like canned dog food? You could always mix that instead of hamburger and at least then his diet will be more complete.

    Fromm Pork and Applesauce is notoriously excellent for picky dogs.
     
  12. jaxen

    jaxen New Member

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    PWCorgi
    I'm afraid he won't get within a foot of the canned I've tried.

    Kilter
    I've been getting our natural dog foods from a local petsmart. I'm afraid that's the only option we have for good dog food in my tiny town. I'll give tripe a try before I give up.
    My goal was to avoid being a short order cook. I won't do it for my children; they get what I make for the group, no special orders. So doing that for our pet seems a bit absurd. That being said I will certainly go the route of a raw diet if that's what it takes.
    You're absolutely right about the time frame being too quick. I'll admit this problem has caused a bit of a desperation to get him to eat, and that has pushed me to act too hastily. I guess I was hoping I just hadn't found the one he liked. Though I may be calculating the time I've had him wrong. My life can become a bit of a whirlwind blur; I've been known to lose whole months... ;)

    I joined these forums just because of this issue. In my small town dogs are treated as farm animals. It's not easy to find someone who can offer genuine, well meaning advice in such matters around here.
    I am grateful for all of your advice.
     
  13. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

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    If he ate well with the hamburg mixed in - can you just do that? Our Bedlington had hamburg added to his dog food daily for years. My mother would just toss some in a frying pan once a week or so, and keep a small bowl of it in the fridge. Toss a couple of spoonfuls on his dinner - done. Unless he's requiring a ton of it to get down a small amount of food, I can't imagine it would throw off his nutrition much.
     
  14. PWCorgi

    PWCorgi Priscilla Winifred Corgi

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    I think she said it has to be at least half hamburger or he wouldn't touch it.
     

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