View Full Version : Help Needed Getting my Puppy to Eat!!!

19th November 2010, 07:04 PM
Coco is 15 weeks old and loves food. When it comes to meal time however, she has some strange habits. We first tried feeding her 3 and even 5 meals a day, but found she just would not eat. She would have a bite or two, then run off being more interested in playing. We now have her on two meals a day because this way she is more likely to eat her food.

She is eating the same food she had at the breeders. I found she eats better when I sit on the floor next to her, and then tell her she is so good after finishing her bowl. Recently I found I don't have to sit next to her if I start off by putting a few pieces in her bowl, then another scoop with a few more pieces, then the third time adding the rest of her portion.

I have NOT been giving her treats or switching her dog food around, and I have been taking her food away all together if after 15 minutes she does not touch it again. I just worry because she is so young! But she is always willing to eat treats. I do not give her treats on days she didn't finish her meal, I am trying to teach her there is no dessert if her meal is not finished first!

Do I have a picky baby? Should I give in and change her dog food? I don't know what else to do to get her to eat. Maybe I should free feed her?

19th November 2010, 07:47 PM
oh i feel your pain!:)
Ive had this with both my girls at different times.If you do a search thro old threads(possibly in health&diet) youll find lots of help on this as lots of others have had this too. Some of the advise is hard to follow when youve got a teeny puppy but it does help.From what i can remember unless theres a medical problem your little one wont starve herself to death,stubborn yes silly no! My vets advise was"if she's taking treats ok then she's playing you"

I hope you get more informed answers than mine& im sure you will:) You dont say what food Coco is on but if its a dry biscuit have you tried adding some warm water to make a mushy mix? I did that whenever my puppy was off food especially when her big teeth were coming in.

Its so hard with a wee one not to be drawn into a game of trying everything from begging&hand feeding to feeding flipping roast chicken! All of which might help one mealtime but in the long run only teaches them that refusing food gets no end of attention & rich rewards-take it from one who has done all of the above!icon_blshing Arnt they darlings!

19th November 2010, 09:28 PM
What brand are you currently feeding? Science Diet is popular among vets and breeders because they receive a lot of "freebies" for using and promoting the brand. I've personally known several dogs who hate the taste, though.

As stated elsewhere, I've been very happy with Solid Gold brand. Blue is another brand I've heard good things about, and I think it is easier to find.

If there is a specialty/natural pet store near you they may be able to give you samples of several foods to try.

The Rouge Princess
19th November 2010, 09:53 PM
It's hard when they're young and think we have all experienced some type of food fussiness over time.I worried, like yourself, because she was tiny and young.The thought of them being hungry and so tiny can be such a worry.

Is Coco wormed?

Dogs are drawn by scent so it could maybe that the food isn't smelly enough to keep her interested.Pilchards, strong cheese,sliced hot dog can do the trick.Or try a smellier food, such as JWB or Wainwrights.The Lamb & Rice is very smelly :yuk: :)
Obviously when introducing a new food, it should be a gradual transition.

Are her anal glands ok? Scarlett will sometimes go off her food when her's need emptying-just a thought.

Also - tell me to mind my own business if you like - but my vet advised against free feeding Cavaliers as it's important to keep their weight down, for knee and heart health :thmbsup:

Good luck with whatever you decide.Coco is a beauty! :l*v:

19th November 2010, 11:35 PM
Please read the post on 'finicky eaters' in the Caring for your Cavalier part of the library if you haven't.

You need to absolutely NOT sit next to her, not cajole her to eat, not praise her when she eats, not start her with a few kibbles then add a few more then a few more. Think about this: she has now trained you to spend loads of time with her and forced you into interacting with her simply by not eating. Just put the food down, give her 10 minutes, utterly ignore her when the food is down, and after 10 minutes remove it and do NOT make a fiuss, do NOT feed a single treat and do NOT try to get her to eat again and do NOT sit next to her, giver her starter amounts, zilch. Wait until the next SCHEDULED mealtime. Do NOT swap in new foods, try different things to tempt her, etc etc etc. Just feed what you expect her to eat. Very few dogs are truly fussy. But you can easily train them accidentally to be that way, which is actually what is happening right now. Treats should not be 'dessert'. They should be in exchange for doing something and should be tiny -- eg *no free lunch*. They should always be part of an opportunity to reinforce positive training messages. :thmbsup: pkease never free feed this breed (or any dog). Cavaliers are one of the well known problem breeds for obesity -- they seem genetically to have no 'shut off' and will eat until grossly obese if free fed. So please do not consider this.

I can virtually guarantee you she will eat normally within a couple of days.

A healthy puppy will NOT starve itself and will have no issues at all with skipping a few meals, even for a couple of days. At her age she is not really tiny any longer -- she is a perfectly robust puppy. So *do not give in and alter this routine*.

If you do what you have been doing you will set her up to have endless fussy food problems. This is a really common issue with puppies and they quickly learn to play you for attention as a trade off for the food. In other words -- she is training YOU to give her attention simply by refusing to eat. This is generally what they want -- not a different food just all the attention that comes along with trying to tempt them with new foods -- but you are already complying with her demands and giving her loads and loads of attention and activity through her meal. She WILL deprive herself in order to get this attention! To most dogs this is much much better than food. Do not let her be in control of eating like this or it turns into a lifelong feeding headache. :thmbsup:

I remember suggesting downloading Dr Ian Dunbar's free book After You Get your Puppy back when you got your first pup. Do you have it yet? It would answer this kind of question and help give extra confidence in making training decisions and dealing with behaviour issues. :thmbsup:

Dr Dunbar suggests in stead of feeding in a bowl to put meals into kongs or treat balls or space it out as training rewards during the day -- in other words, make the dog work to get its food. not have it as a passive activity. Good for your dog's mental health and she gets exercise and a challenge.

The Rouge Princess
20th November 2010, 12:31 AM
I agree with no cajoling, they're not silly these lil guys.I also thought afterwards, could Coco's teeth be troubling her? I had this with Scarlett.I tried everything and worried until I realised her gums were to sore for her to be able to eat dry kibble.I found after much whittling, she began "playing me" :badgrin: I soon began soaking it and from then it's been an empty bowl after every meal.

Like Karlin said, again before, Kongs are great for filling and Scarlett loves chasing her around afternoon time, or after a walk.Handy also as she'll tend to have a nap afterwards :D

Let us know how you get on

20th November 2010, 02:05 AM
Thanks for everything guys, and Karlin, I guess now that I see it this way you're right, Coco is training me haha! Ok no more cooing her after she eats or doing anything "special" to get her to eat. I did buy the "Before You Get Your Puppy" book, but not after.

Also to answer what I am feeding her, she's eating a grainless food called "Now!", which is what the breeder was feeding. She is on the small breed adult, the breeder said she doesn't typically feed actual puppy food to pups, but sometimes will to pregnant females.

And about her teeth, she chews on her toys and what not..so if she can do that, I am sure she is able to eat her kibble!!! I am guessing she is just fooling with me to get my attention.

As far as worms go, her last fecal came back negative, but she still has one more scheduled worming next week just to be on the safe side.

Thanks for all the tips, time for me to be a firm mommy!

23rd November 2010, 02:47 PM
how are you getting on :confused:

23rd November 2010, 06:25 PM
Thanks for checking in! We are definitely doing better, but Coco is still trying to play games with me in the morning. It is frustrating because I only have about 10 spare minutes to spend with her in the morning before I go to work and I have been having to put her food away and she has been skipping breakfast!! But, when I get home, she eats all her dinner up, no games. I just don't know when she is going to "get" it..if she doesn't eat in the morning, she goes hungry until dinner.

Today I did get her to eat breakfast. I tried to feed her before she had done her morning poo, wanted nothing with it. We went outside, she poo'd, then ate up her breakfast!


She still sometimes wont eat in the morning, even if she has poo'd already. Is it not good for my puppy to on average, be eating one meal a day? I still worry!

23rd November 2010, 07:51 PM
A couple of things. It is a much better idea to take a dog out to relieve itself first thing in the morning and then feed, not the other way around. She is probably not eating because she really needs to go first thing in the morning and eating would make this worse. As Ian Dunbar's book notes, with puppies the general rule is always to take them out on a lead to go immediately upon waking up from overnight or a nap, immediately after eating, immediately after playing. At her age though -- she really needs meals 3-4 times a day, not to wait a full day before an evening meal? Has the breeder explained normal puppy timetables for feeding? Usually they are on 4 meals til around 4 months old, then three til around 6 months to 9 months, then go to two. Two meals a day at her age is a really long wait. She is eating because she will be pretty starving by that point. :( Can you arrange for someone to come in?

As well, I think you definitely need to be getting up earlier to give her enough decent time with you in the morning as well (part of the adjustment responsible owners need to make when adding a dog to the household! :) ) -- 10 minutes isn't enough quality or productive interaction for a young puppy first thing and they do need to be taken out, walked and exercised, fed, and given some quality interaction before being left alone all day (eg 30-45 minutes minimum of your time -- being left alone then is pretty dreary and dull for a dog and especially a young puppy) -- though presumably someone must be coming in during the day at least once to let her out and give her walk etc and she is not left alone without any interaction for a full work day? And she has the run of a safe indoor room? A dog should never be crated for a full day and if no one is giving her at least one break during the day, requiring her to wee and poop inside on puppy pads etc, housetraining is going to take far longer as she never clearly learns she needs to go outside (this, to be honest, is why so many breeders will not place puppies into working homes -- they need so much work and interaction in their first year -- and so you need to adjust expectations for housetraining accordingly and realise it may be an ongoing issue for her for many months).

Again Ian Dunbar's book is very good on all these points. :thmbsup:

23rd November 2010, 10:04 PM
Hi Karlin,

Thanks again for your great advice. Not to worry, my fiance lives with me and is home for an additional 2 hours after I leave for work in the morning and he takes her out more and plays with her. We are aware, and were made aware by our breeder, that Coco would need 3 to 4 meals a day. Problem has been she wasn't eating them, which is why we were playing with her food, praising her like crazy after eating, and I discovered adding a few pieces in, then a little more, and more, etc. got her to eat!! Then you told me I should not be doing this and I stopped. Food is down 10 minutes, if she doesn't eat, she waits until next meal time. But now I realize the problem is that we got used to doing 2 meals a day for her because she was so hard to get to eat, we will give her another opportunity or two if she is not eating in the morning :)

My fiance also comes home from work for 1 hour during his lunch to let her out and play, and she is only crated 3 days a week. As far as potty training goes, she is doing fantastic! Getting her to eat is another story :cool:

24th November 2010, 06:05 PM
A cavalier that doesnt like to eat :shock:

24th November 2010, 06:25 PM
I have read about the problem with Cavaliers and obesity so I make sure to only feed Chamberlain the recomended amount and do not give him too many treats. However, my problem is that he eats so fast! I have started putting a tennis ball in his bowl to slow him down!

It sounds like things are getting better!

24th November 2010, 08:43 PM
Sounds like things are moving in the right direction. One thing we had to do with Libby is add a little water to soften food. Sometimes their gums are sore from teething and that helps.