View Full Version : please say i've cracked it!

27th August 2006, 09:01 AM
i held out for two days, leaving his food out. maybe we are getting somewhere with jadans food. i have stopped trying to give him different things and am sticking to my guns on his food....not so easy when he looks at me with those eyes!! :roll: i am sure his will is greater than mine. :? this morning i tried all sorts of different bowls instead of the food..lol!!! he went mad for a glass bowl with patterns on it and started bowing and barking at it like a puppy wanting to play. i had never seen anything like it. went on for ages. wouldnt eat out of it though!! finally settled on a casserole dish lid. ate the lot :p :p :p :p :p but will it last or is this just another one off?!!! will keep you posted. i was just starting to flag after only two days. how sad am I!!! :? have i cracked it :sl*p: :sl*p:

brid kenny
27th August 2006, 09:53 AM
Here's hoping!!!

brid kenny
27th August 2006, 09:53 AM
Here's hoping!!!

27th August 2006, 10:13 AM
I've found sometimes that they prefer a flat plate to a bowl...maybe because they can see over the edge whilst eating?

Keep strong, it sounds like you are winning!!

27th August 2006, 10:37 AM
:lol: :lol: :lol: So it's not just mine who will only eat out of certain dishes! I've got some smallish oblong pyrex dishes that they like to eat out of but they also like these oval pie dishes that I sometimes use in an emergency (like when I've forgotten to put the dishwasher on!).

It's funny but my two hate to eat out of 'proper' dog food dishes - maybe it's because they are really small furry humans :lol: :lol: :lol:

27th August 2006, 01:16 PM
To be brutally honest -- from the dog's point of view, you are still allowing him to control this. You have just allowed him to control it in entirely new ways with the same end result. :)

Don't leave the food out -- that just sets you up for a dog that expects to free feed (not good for this breed which will free feed intself into gross obesity and health problems). It also lets him control when he feels like eating. This is very frustrating for you if you need to feed and then take the dog somewhere -- or if boarding dogs, where most places will NOT just leave a bowl down all day. Or if worst comes to worst and the dog is ill and must be left at the vets and NEEDS to be eating -- the last thing you want is a dog trained to hold out on its food and demanding all sorts of fussy alternatives when nutrition becomes a life and death matter. So this is indeed a very serious issue to nail right now.

Second: switching around bowls is no different from giving in on types of food and hand feeding etc -- it is all part of the rewards you are granting to this dog for NOT eating. Stop viewing this in terms of FOOD and start looking at it in terms of what the dog is now getting, very effectively from you, which most dogs consider even better than food: ATTENTION.

What you are training the puppy to do is to not eat -- for look at all the great rewards! From puppy's view: "I get food set out all day long for me to eat whenever I want. And if I don't eat, my humans fuss over me, keep taking out new bowls and pouring the food back and forth, which is all a game and great fun and I get so overexcited at their willingness to play MY game that I bark at the bowls and play with them but STILL don;t eat as I have learned if I don't eat, this goes on even LONGER and is even MORE FUN!!!"

For yes, that is why the pup reacted as it did -- take it as a clear sign that you are doing exactly what the dog wants -- turning eating into a huge game with lots of attention rewarded for not eating....and an overexcited dog is even less likely to eat and more likely to try this new successful technique over and over... :yikes:

Back to the pup: "She keeps encouraging me to eat and fussing over me and talking to me... this is SO much better than eating that I think I will keep right on doing this for the next 12 years! After all she eventually gets me to eat somethingand often something really tasty like specially cooked meals and then I get even MORE attention and praise and the whole time, everyone is looking at me and acknowledging me and waiting to see if I eat, which in my dog language means **all the lower ranking, servant humans are acknowledging my superiority, the fact that I run the house, the fact that when I demand it, I get attention...** --- and given that this is the case, I am sure I can get away with all sorts of other things to as I am clearly running the house. I can boss people around, maybe nip at them, maybe bark all day if I feel like it, growl at people who try to take my toys or move me from my bed. I don't need to learn *any manners*. Though it might start me having some anxiety problems a little later on when I realise I am running the whole house and ALL these people and this gets me very worked up and then maybe the behaviouralist will have to come in and sort me out but for right now, what FUN this all is!!"

A little (and only a little!) exaggerated, but all true -- from the DOG's point of view, in dog communication, you are reinforcing all the things you are hoping to change. You need to stop considering this a food issue and recognise it as a behaviour issue that just happens to be connected to food. As you saw, it quickly became connected to bowls, instead -- I am sure the puppy was delighted with all these new and interesting objects beeing brought out, no doubt while you got more exasperated, and cajoled hom to eat and he got to watch all the moving around of food and cupboards opening and all the while him getting *constant * attention... finally he got bored, ate his food, and can;t wait to try this new technique again! :yikes:

This can be really hard for people because we aren't used to understanding the ways dogs think.

Here is what you must, MUST do.

Choose a bowl and that is the dog's bowl, full stop. If you want to try a flat plate, then try a flat plate, but try it for A MONTH before switching back to a bowl. You don't want to keep rewarding the dog for not eating/fussing over food bowls/finding new ways of getting your constant and ongoing ATTENTION.

Then: put the food down for 15 minutes. Do NOT even look at the dog in this time. Do NOT talk to him, encourage him, sneak glances at him, respond to him if he jumps up. Just find something to do and do it and pretend he is not there.

At the end of 15 minutes, lift the food remaining and put the bowl somewhere -- in the fridge if there's wet food or into a cupboard if dry food that will keep. Do NOT acknowledge the dog as you do this. Do NOT praise for eating, encourage to eat, talk to the dog about why it hasn't eaten. Just ignore, lift the bowl, put away, and go on now normally with your day.

Do NOT offer a SINGLE treat during the day -- NO TREATS until the dog has started eating normally when you put food down for at least one week.

At the next SCHEDULED feeding time, repeat all of the above.

Also do not add new things to the food, try new foods, try to offer tempting scraps. Just feed what you have decided is the dog's regular meal and *that is it*. You must make feeding times a time for feeding, not a time for allowing the dog to try all sorts of bad behaviour. That means you must totally ignore the dog throughout the entire process. EXCEPT I would recommend asking the dog to sit before putting its bowl down. You want the dog to start viewing the food as its reward for acknowledging YOU by obeying YOU. Psychologically this also shifts the dog's perspective to seeing the food as something to east right away as the food is rewarding in itself. Again, once that bowl hits the ground you are to *TOTALLY IGNORE THE DOG*.

If you do this for one week I guarantee you the puppy will be eating when you put the food down, in whatever bowl you are using, and whatever you are feeding.

Please do not waver in this or you are going to be setting up not just a fussy dog but a dog that will be tempted to use all the same techniques in other areas -- creating other problems. It is really important to stop this behaviour now before it escalates.

Many of us have been there!!! And if it helps -- consider what you would do if this were a child. Would you try all sorts of different plates, cook 15 different meals, beg and plead? Most of us would see through this type of behaviour right away and would never allow a child to manipulate us to such an extent. Don't let those puppy eyes fool you into thinking this is a different case!:lol:

What you are dealing with is really a very central issue on understanding what rewards dogs *accidentally* when we think we are doing otherwise and understanding this clearly is very essential to training dogs well and not being manipulated... hence I have tried to explain at some length!! :)

PS if all of this is difficult for you consider getting someone else in the family to take on the feeding tasks til you solve this.

It is so important for both the dog's and your future happiness. Dogs that are able to manipulate typically become very anxious, unpredictable, problem dogs. Think of what a child would be like in a similar situation where the child is never given any supportive behaviour guidelines, and I am sure you can see what I mean.

Cathy T
27th August 2006, 03:55 PM
I went through he** trying to get Jake to eat as a puppy. I tried gravy, different foods and believe me....every thing I could think of as far as bowls. I used paper plates, glass, metal, pottery, bowls, flat plates and on and on. Finally did exactly what I was told. Put it down, pick it up, nothing in between. After a couple of days he was eating and we've never had a problem since.

I think the biggest thing I was told...what had the most impact on me...was that he WILL NOT starve himself. He WILL eat if he's hungry enough no matter what kind of bowl I serve it in.

27th August 2006, 09:29 PM
wow. thanks for taking the time to write all that it means a lot to me and i am going to take it very seriously. i hope i didnt give the impression that he gets something different every time or the attention. he normally goes about three or four days on the same then decides hes had enough. i make him sit and leave the room. but in between when he doesnt eat i know i shouldnt try him on different foods. he actually went for it this morning. however i did the same this evening and he turned his nose up. i didnt expect it to work straight away but i am going to persevier with this although as you say, i will take the food away. I had heard others saying they left it all day so thought i would try it. :? :( and to be honest it was left all day and night as it was dry food and he didnt touch it. i just wanted to see if he had a particular aversion to the food and thought that if he got hungry enough he would eat when he wanted and at least he would be fed this time, then i would start taking the bowl away. I would normally take the bowl away after 10 mins. i am guilty though of giving him his treats during his training.What do i do then?

27th August 2006, 11:11 PM
:oops: I didn't realise you were having problems with him eating full stop!

Karlin & Cathy are right, I have done this with all of my dogs when they wouldn't eat. they get given 10 minutes and if it's not gone, I take it away.

These days the food is gone almost as soon as I say 'Take it' :lol:

28th August 2006, 12:10 AM
...i hope i didnt give the impression that he gets something different every time or the attention. he normally goes about three or four days on the same then decides hes had enough.

zack used to have this pattern. he'd usually eat a new food at least once with some real eagerness, and sometimes for maybe three days max. then, he'd look at it like "eat that? you got to be kidding," and walk away.

I thought i needed to find something he liked and that being a growing puppy, if he didn't eat, his health would be at risk.

but then i heard the ring of truth in what karlin said and i chose one of the several kibbles i had collected and just put it down and after that, didn't worry about it. Like Cathy said, i got it that if he didn't eat for a few days, it wouldn't hurt him, and if he was really hungry, he'd eat the kibble, just like he ate it the first time, before he passed on it. i also got that a key piece of success was me showing that i did not care if he ate or not, just treating the whole thing like it was no big deal, it was of no concern to me if he ate. I was lucky because he apparently got the message right away and started eating the first night. But if he didn't, that would be OK. I was psyched up for the long haul, whatever he decided. I knew that i had given him nutritious wholesome food, and that was all i could do, the rest was up to him.

at first, he didn't always eat all of it. because i left it down and didn't take it away, i don't know how much he ate exactly but i felt happy that i knew he was eating some of it, that's what mattered, that he was choosing to eat it when he felt hungry, without me being involved.

At first i still let him have bully sticks and similar, but eventually he taught me that if i let him have those, he would consider them his food and would not eat the real food, or would eat much less of it. Once i removed those and otherwise ignored the whole eating thing, he started eating regularly and good, 1/2 cup twice a day.

i am going to persevier with this although as you say, i will take the food away. I had heard others saying they left it all day so thought i would try it. :?

Each person's situation is different and i had reasons why i chose to leave his food down all day on a temporary basis, planning eventually to only leave it down for feeding times, but although i left it down, he didn't nibble at it throughout the day. He put himself on a structure and ate the whole 1/2 cup at one time, twice a day. I think he just got hungry at those times, and it's just the natural way, to eat when hungry. He has never related to food as just something to do when bored, except for the bully sticks.

i am guilty though of giving him his treats during his training.What do i do then?

It may be that if treats are strictly tied to training exercises, it wouldn't interfere with establishing the feeding ritual. I wasn't using treats for training anyway so for me, it was just a matter of needing to remove the pleasure treats, i.e. the chew treats like bully sticks and edible nylabones.

about your story of trying the different bowls and how he started being playful with one of the bowls, and then ate his food out of another one, thanks for that story, it was cute. I couldn't help smiling. and then, righ on cue, you said "Will it last?" haha :lol: i mean, what you described sounded like so much fun, i would certainly imagine Jadan would love to do that every day. I just wasn't sure if you would have the time and energy for it, i suspected you wanted something a little more convenient for your schedule. It reminds me of a parent sitting in front of a high chair and the baby is sitting in the high chair and the parent is holding a jar of yucky baby food, like strained peas or something, trying to get the baby to learn to eat solid food. the baby would just as soon have the nice warm bottle of milk with the nipple. And the parent is saying "Watch the airplane," and is making the spoon "fly" around above the baby, "bzzzz, bzzzzz, zooooommmm, here it comes..." and then making a sweeping diving motion with the spoon, bringing the food into the baby's mouth while smiling and laughing and talking in a cheery high pitched voice. this is such a common image. The point is, you are not alone, many of us know this feeling and have our own versions of these incidents.

How about this one: Although i do a fine job of showing Zack that i don't care if he eats or not, oftentimes he would not be eating his food (which was left down all day) and then i would come in to the kitchen to make my dinner and while i was in there where his bowl is, he would come in and start eating, "crunch crunch, crunch," ahhh, music to my ears :lol:. It seemed that he just didn't want to eat alone, he came in to eat because i was in there. So even though i was done with what i was doing, the food was on the stove cooking and i would enjoy going into the living room to watch Tv, i would pretend to have something to do in the kitchen and would stay in there, actually doing nothing, because i thought that if i left, he would stop eating. :lol:

For the record, as of a couple of weeks ago, i am now picking up the bowl if there's any food left in it after feeding time. I no longer leave food down all day. The time came when it felt right to me to do that, and now that's the way it is.

By the way, have you tried Innova Evo? In Zack's case, he likes it much better than any of the other kibbles. It passed the honeymoon phase and he almost always eats it up when i put down the bowl. It has more protein in it than most kibble, and no grain.

28th August 2006, 08:16 AM
thanks everyone for taking such an interest. at least i know i am not alone. the funny thing is that i had resolved to do just as you all say this last time round and just give him no choice. i had learned at an early stage that he wanted attention and so would leave the room. i gave the impression of him creating with the bowls, but he only went mad with one. the rest of the time he just sits waiting or follows me from room to room but i dont go back anymore. i hadnt thought of the bowls being as big an issue. just thought the one glass one he went funny with was funny to see. but i knew straight away that i was going to be making another issue there, so knew that would be the last bowl change. just wanted to share the story. anyway. he did finally eat his breakfast yesterday after no fuss from myself or anything. but how do you get through to family. come tea time he did the same and i catch my hubby molycodling him!! NOOO!! for goodness sake i said. ive just got him eating at his own free will and he comes and goo goos over him. hubby felt bad and im back to square one. then my brother comes round who has just got a pup called trixie and starts going on about how she woolfs down science plan and i should try it. again i STRESS!!! that this wont do any good as jadan will think i am fussing again and trying something new. so no thankyou i will carry on as i am. i give him all the stories i have read and advise given and say it worked this morning so no thankyou.... then what does he do... i pop out come back and he has fed jadan his science plan that he especially went home to get to proove a point. :x :x :x :x oh he ate it all up every last mouthfull he says :x :x :x you should get some! :( thats not the point is it i say. you have just set me back another couple of days thankyou very much. as no doubt jadan will see this as another victory. oooo i could scream. :sl*p: :sl*p: :sl*p: should i carry on with his own food or now start his regime on this new one as it was the last one he ate. headache! I really want to stick to mine. specially as i have just bought a big bag of it. jjames wellbeloved by the way. no ... i am sticking to my guns. jadan has proved he will eat it so thats what he is having. give me strength. :yikes

28th August 2006, 10:01 AM
...but how do you get through to family. come tea time he did the same and i catch my hubby molycodling him!! NOOO!!

this sounds familiar. :sl*p: you gotta get everybody on board. not easy.

should i carry on with his own food or now start his regime on this new one as it was the last one he ate.

some dogs have loose stools when their food is abruptly changed so many advise mixing the new food with the old and phasing in the new gradually. from what you said before, it sounds like jadan might like the new food for a few days and then lose interest, so you might as well just pick one and stick with it. I don't think the kind of food matters as much as the message that there is just this certain chance to eat, take it or leave it, whatever it may be. In fact, like what karlin said about if you have to board a dog or leave him at the vet overnight, they may not feed him what you feed him, or they may want to try a prescription dog food, so if he's used to eating different kinds of food, that shouldn't be a bad thing. But what you probably want to avoid is changing his food for the purpose of pleasing him because that goes contrary to the message you want to convey.

Having said that, I had settled on one kind of kibble, zack wasn't thrilled with it but he ate it every day, but he always seemed reluctant, and this bothered me and that's what led me to try Innova Evo which he clearly liked better than all the others. So i relate to wanting to find something he can actually enjoy. but i believe if you do what karlin said, he'll eventually act like he enjoys whatever you give him.

I think you're doing great with a situation that is a challenge to any caring mom, or dad, you're making progress and you're almost there! You might as well continue giving him whatever you prefer to give him. For some reason, i've gotten the impression (maybe wrongly) that James Wellbeloved is a higher quality dog food than Science Plan. It may be that Jadan liked Science Plan because of unhealthy fillers and flavorings that may have been added--i don't know this is true. I know that Science Diet is of mediocre quality, and i believe James Wellbeloved is one of the premium dog foods, but whether Science Plan has any relationship to Science Diet, i don't know.

28th August 2006, 06:49 PM
still nothing. :( :( i didnt cave in and just gave jay his james wellbeloved but he sniffed and turned away. i just left him. no eye contact nothing. he has been very sleepy though and i think this is why it hurts so much because you start to think of them getting weaker and weaker. im sure he doesnt drink as much water either but maybe thats because he is on dry food and that would have made him more thirsty. last night after my brother gave him the science plan he was sooo full of energy, even after a walk and didnt get to sleep till later either. looking back though we did go out for a good four hours with out him yesterday. something we havent done since the beginning of the holidays. maybe he just missed us sooo much that he didnt want to go to sleep and miss anything. bless. :flwr: :flwr: :flwr: no tea either... :sl*p: i get what you say about wanting them to enjoy their food. i think this is what i was trying to get out of him. i wanted to see him bounce about waiting to wolf it down and tried finding something that would get this response. but everyone is right. i think so long as he realises that he has a full tummy he wont mind what it is. its really hard though when we have to keep him on a lead in our park though because he will go and scavange at the really horrid stuff. (poo!!) that he fills up on! yuk..he is ok in other places but the park is just outside our back door. he knows it so well that if he is off lead he just wants to go off as he knows where his back door is. if hes not ready to come back its a struggle. he DOESNT do this anywhere else. he stays close byand is very good at recall with his clicker elsewhere. so keeping him starved means going on lead when we only have time for a quick walk. which we all must do sometimes surely! dont make me feel quilty about that too.! anyway...i do ramble on.and on dont i. ;) ;) :) :)

29th August 2006, 10:39 AM
just after writing the last posting we took jadan for a short walk and he came back and ate a small amount of his tea, no fuss just ate it. your words of wisdom have results after a short time.. normally takes at least two days. thought it was too good to be true because he hasnt had breakfast. talk about testing you! but know it will work eventually :sl*p:

on another note......i am interested in this training without treats...how does this work?? i thought your advise on feeding was great and you seam to know what your talking about whereas as you can probably tell i am sooo new to puppys. books tend to give different advise from each other. any help is great as i am starting to wonder if i am doing anything right. it does knock your confidence abit when something you think so simple like eating turns into a battle of wills against a five month old pup :p :p