At the beginning of 2018, Woody went completely off his food. Up until that point, I’d been feeding him Wainwright’s Potato and Salmon. I’d just bought him a new 15kg of the stuff, which may I add he chose himself in the shop, when he decided to turn his nose up completely. We’ve tried and tested plenty of tricks for feeding fussy eaters and today I thought I’d share with you some of our favourite!
Tips for Feeding Fussy Eaters
Check You’re Not Overfeeding
Canine obesity is rife at the moment. There are plenty of owners who may not realise they’re actually overfeeding their dogs. Some dogs, like Woody, are good at knowing when they’re full (apart from if there are tasty treats going of course!) but others have less self control. Many dog food manufacturers print a feeding guide on the back of their packaging, which is handy for calculating portions. Simply take your dog’s adult weight, or predicted adult weight if they’re a puppy, look it up on the back of the packet and distribute the amount of food across their usual feeding routine. Of course the guides are just an estimate and it’s important to take into account other factors such as your dog’s age and activity level.
Woody had been maintaining his weight, which is a relief! The only cause for concern was his high activity level. At the time I was dog walking professionally, which meant we were out exploring most of the day. As any spaniel owner knows, when you walk, they run! With Woody walking up to 3 hour walks a day, I was worried when he started refusing his meals. It turns out I had been overfeeding him slightly, so this may have contributed to him being fussy.
Feed Their Kibble As Treats
Feeding kibble during training is a good way to manage canine obesity, giving your dog a more balanced and nutritional alternative to treats. Their also small in size, meaning their easy to give in quick succession and store while out and about on walks. Their fairly robust too, making them less likely to break or crumble in your pocket!
I swapped Woody’s usual treats for the dry food he wasn’t eating. Surprisingly he’d happily munch on his food in treat form, perhaps it was more tasty when given as a reward?! This worked for us for a few weeks, until Woody cottoned on and became disinterested.
Cut Down on Titbits from the Table
Dogs are smart creatures. They know when to pull out their puppy dog eyes to get the best snacks. Some also learn that if they refuse dog food, eventually their owner will worry and give them human food, which is obviously much tastier! Of course we worry about our dogs eating, or in our case not eating! However, it’s important to be strict as owners, so your fussy eaters realise their food is the only option. This means refraining from feeding scraps from the table, or treats during the day to compensate for missed meals. Experts suggest putting your fussy eaters’ food down for a set amount of time (usually around 10-20 minutes.) If your dog doesn’t eat their food, take it away and serve it again at their next meal. They’ll soon realise their food is the only option!
I tried this trick with Woody but it didn’t work so well for us. We stopped feeding him our leftovers after meals and placed time restraints on his meals. We tried this method for a couple of weeks. He still wouldn’t eat consistently and rarely finished his plate. Not what we needed, particularly as Woody is such an active boy!
Ditch the Bowl
A trend I have been noticing recently in the dog world is ditching the bowl at mealtimes in favour of enrichment toys and activities. This could be anything from scattering your dog’s food in the grass for them to sniff it out or feeding them with Kongs to using intricate toys and gadgets you can purchase from the pet shop. Emma and Alfie from Alfie Bear have written plenty of posts on alternatives at mealtimes, so I would definitely recommend checking out their blog!
Woody looks at me unamused whenever I try to scatter his food at mealtimes. Instead, I tried teaching him new tricks, using his kibble as treats. Not only was this a great way to get Woody to eat, it also made him work for his food. Mealtimes were becoming something I looked forward to and it’s a great way to build your bond with your dog. The only downside is it takes up a lot more time, so if you’ve got a busy schedule it may not be a long term fix!
Mix Kibble and Wet Food
I noticed that Woody was particularly uninterested in food at breakfast time. Perhaps it was because he was too excited about his morning walk or maybe he didn’t fancy eating dry food first thing in the morning. I decided to experiment by mixing wet food with his kibble in the morning. It worked a treat!
I also tried mixing his food with gravy, water and one time milk. All of which made the food more appealing to Woody. The wet food I bought from our local supermarket. It was inexpensive (about £1 for 500g) but bulky to store and did stink the fridge out. Living in a house share, this wasn’t ideal but at least Woody was eating!
Swap Their Food
There’s plenty of debate around dogs’ diets. Whether we should feed them the same brand for life, or switch things up from time to time. While trying out all the different tips, we were kindly sent some of Guru’s Cold Pressed* food to try. The delivery arrived just as we’d finished half of Woody’s old food but I was excited to give Guru a go.
Woody took to the new food like a fish to water, it totally transformed our mealtimes. He’d happily much away at both breakfast and dinner and polish it off in one go. I also learnt the food mixes with water to create a wet food alternative, which is ideal for us at breakfast!
Not only was the dog food a success but the team at Guru were so supportive. They’ve created a collection of really valuable resources for fussy eaters; from their feeding guide to tips on swapping dog food gradually. The team are super active on social media too and were happy to answer all of my questions online. It’s been a month since we were sent Guru’s Cold Pressed food and I’m delighted to say I’m no longer feeding a fussy eater! Woody’s now fed on Guru’s Surf & Turf food but they also do a Full on Feast flavour too.
That concludes our tips for feeding fussy eaters. Do you have any of your own? If so, we’d love to hear them in the comments! To keep up with our adventures, be sure to follow us on Instagram!
*We were kindly sent a free sample of Guru’s Surf & Turf pet food, Trip and Road Bones and Venison Sausage treats. All thoughts are our own and as you can see by the photos, Woody loves them!