View Full Version : Mealtimes With Fussy Eaters

22nd November 2011, 06:21 PM
Our 4 month old is on a 'no food, just feed me treats' protest.
It's been off and on for the past month or so, and what I thought might have been teething pains (as he was more interested in
chewing his bully stick to shreds), now seems that he's become a fuss pot.
He'll happily eat his puppy food, as long as I sit on the floor and hand feed him now http://www.kolobok.us/smiles/he_and_she/parting.gif
Which isn't always convenient, as I also have dinner to cook usually around the same time.
We've tried using different bowls, plates of all shapes and sizes to encourage him, but the novelty has worn off for him.
He has his three meals per day and a few snacks, such as a carrot to gnaw on and his bully stick. After meals, I'll cut up
apple and watermelon for him, which he has no hesitation in eating and barks at me for more. He also have a high protein
Kangaroo stick every second day or so.

He is being desexed tomorrow and also having his hernia removed, and I worry about him not having enough protein while he's
recovering. He's a very stubborn little thing. Karlin had a thread in one of the forums that talked about finicky eaters,
http://www.cavaliertalk.com/forums/showthread.php?24168-Finicky-eater but sadly the links that she has provided have expired.

Just hoping someone might be able to help, how much protein should a 4 month old Cavalier be getting, and if anyone else is dealing with
a fussy eater, what have you tried that's worked?

Sydneys Mom
22nd November 2011, 07:37 PM
I don't think Jessie is a fussy eater at all, just a spoiled eater, and I say this in the most loving way.:)
Actually, Sydney did the same thing when he was a puppy, and I reacted the same way you did, I hand fed him. No problem with treats either, they came out of my hand! What you need to do is put his food down, and after 15 mins. or so, if he won't eat and has no interest in it, pick it up and walk away. Then NO treats either after that. At then next scheduled mealtime, do the same thing. It's going to be hard since they look at you with those big brown eyes, but it's called tough love. Missing a meal or 2 won't hurt, make sure there is plenty of fresh water around. By the next meal, he'll be hungry enough to eat without problems. Just be consistant at every feeding.

Good luck, because this is going to be harder on you then Jessie!

23rd November 2011, 01:28 AM
My Papillon Cadence went through something like that at that age too. He used to eat his food heartily, but when he turned 4 months old he was more interested in treats and would just turn up his nose at any sort of kibble, raw, or canned food.

At first I tried the "put food down for 15 mins and then take it away" thing, but he ended up going without food for 3 days. So after that I just switched to free feeding him. He still gets 1/2 cup of kibble a day, but I just leave the bowl down all day so he eats whenever he feels like it. I find that he eats while I'm not home, or late in the evening when he actually feels hungry. There is absolutely NO making him eat in the mornings. He just doesn't feel hungry. I don't add anything to his food to make it more enticing. He gets whatever I give him and that's that.

That said, I do vary the dogs' meals up a lot. For the most part they get regular kibble, but now and then they get raw, dehydrated raw, or canned, depending on how much free time I have.

I think all dogs are different and have their own quirks. Some will take to the "put food down for 15 mins" thing, but some won't. You have to figure out what works and what doesn't.

23rd November 2011, 02:38 AM
I'll tell you what the problem is:

He'll happily eat his puppy food, as long as I sit on the floor and hand feed him now

No. And no, and no and no. You do NOT need to do this. :) Each time you do it, you reinforce that this is the best way for him to get his food each day! :)

You also don't need the extra link from my post above. All you need to do is follow the main advice:

1) give food without any fuss. Just give what you EXPECT him to eat and place on floor and do NOt talk to him, look at him, or interact in any way at all.

2) give him 10 minutes to eat. If he does not eat, lift the dog bowl (no special plates, dishes, feeding on floor etc) without ANY interaction, talking to him, cajoling, fussing. Put someplace til next SCHEDULED feeding. In meantime do NOT feed treats, bits of watermelon, or anything at all.

3) at next SCHEDULED feeding, repeat the above.

I will guarantee you he will be eating normally and with gusto within 2-3 days and probably, by the next morning. A healthy puppy can go without eating for a day or two without a problem. If you keep letting him train you to to what he wants when it comes to feeding, he will keep holding off til he gets all this extra activity and attention. The interaction is far ore interesting to a puppy than the food -- but sets you up for years of misery. And a dog that will ONLY hold out like this for you. Surprisingly, most finicky eaters are never finicky at all when they go to kennels/home boarding/are looked after by a friend or relative! The issue is almost always that they behave this way with the person/people they have trained to give them such attention.

My Tansy came from a puppy farm where I promise you, no one was hand feeding her. In only a month in foster, she managed to teach the fosterer that she had to have all the extra attention of hand feeding, having her food specially mashed/crushed etc. :rolleyes: She came to live with me and learned in two days that either she ate her food like everyone else or everyone else (four other hungry cavaliers) would eat her food. She now devours her normal food fed in a normal dog food bowl. :D

23rd November 2011, 02:41 AM
Thanks for the advice ladies, it's a comfort to know how common it is.

Sydneys Mom, I couldn't agree more. It's mostly my own fault for catering to his whims.
He is more than happy to eat roast beef when I'm cooking, chicken breast and lamb, also a small amount of gummy shark,
more as a little treat after his meal. He'll happily eat out of his bowl then. I've been trying to keep his diet interesting,
but a fair chunk of commercial and premium puppy food is all chicken, rice and vegetables. Which is great, but we've tried to introduce
the premium brands, but he wont have a bar of it once we stop adding it to his regular food and he is on the new brand only.

Lucidity, how does your little one go with having a variety of different foods?

He's a big boy. He's not at all overweight, but he's already well over 6kgs now (13.45 pounds).
I've been putting his meal up after 15 minutes of him not eating so far today and he hasn't bothered to look for it.
He ate a little under half his lunch before leaving it, and out of his bowl as well. So that's already an improvement.
He has his water and bully stick for the afternoon now until dinner later today, when I'll do the same again.

He'll have a snack before 10:00pm tonight then, then it's fasting until after his surgery tomorrow.
Thanks again for the advice, I'll stick with it and as long as he's still eating part of his meals, he won't be going hungry.

23rd November 2011, 03:01 AM
I'll tell you what the problem is:

No. And no, and no and no. You do NOT need to do this. :)
Ohhh, I regret starting it. My fear was that he wouldn't be strong enough to have the surgery tomorrow, that's how it started.
I've been trying the new tactic, and so far it's going better than I anticipated
What has been the longest time frame that you've experienced that a pup has gone without eating?

23rd November 2011, 03:19 AM
Lucidity, how does your little one go with having a variety of different foods?

Oh, they love having variety! Although Lyra is a real food lover and will eat absolutely ANYTHING I feed her, lol. Cadence likes raw and dehydrated raw (Ziwipeak) a lot more than kibble, but I can't afford to feed those all the time so he gets those maybe once or twice a week. He isn't a huge fan of canned food though, so mainly only Lyra gets that.

I actually really like rotating foods and feeding all sorts of different kinds of food. I find that it helps their tummies get used to digesting different types of food... and also, it's a personal preference. I would feel so bored if I had to eat the same thing for years! So I rotate the dogs' kibble every bag. One bag lasts for about 3 weeks to a month. I make sure I get different meat sources with every bag. For instance, right now they are on a duck based kibble. The next bag is a fish based kibble. After that they'll get some sort of red meat like lamb or venison.

25th November 2011, 06:22 AM
People already gave GREAT advice. It tough love, and it breaks your heart, but it works. Brooky was this way as a pup and would never eat. I stuck with it 15 min down and then it gets taken away. My heart broke every time I did it because sometimes she wouldn't touch a bite. But my vet assured me that she will not starve herself and it was fine and to stick with it...she will eventually get it and eat (even eating we have to teach puppies....they don't come on auto which I had to learn the hard way!) :)
Sure enough, after a few weeks to a month, no more problems. And sometimes she wouldnt eat still, but we just went with it.

Although I do have to say, once we switched to Ziwi Peak at 10 months, Brooky NEVER turned her nose up at food again! She thinks she is getting a bowl of treats! :)