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Thread: Odd eating behavior

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  1. #1
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    Default Odd eating behavior

    My 4-month old puppy has a very strange way of eating. She's especially bad in the morning. Here is what she does: I put out her food, call her and make a fuss about breakfast time, she seems excited and comes near, then goes away and sits on a rug. I sit on a chair and try to not make contact with her. She will just sit and sometimes start chewing on the rug or furniture. (This takes place in the kitchen, with doors to the other rooms closed.) She continues to ignore her food. I usually end up saying, "how are you doing? Let's check." And then I'll add, "Oh, good job." Sometimes that encourages her to come over and start eating. Other times I'll rattle the food a bit, or bring her a handful. After doing this, she eventually starts to eat. At halfway point, she'll usually come to me and want to show me. I go to the bowl with her and praise her, and she continues to eat. Sometimes I empty the remainder onto her placemat, because she prefers eating on that. (The breeder said this may be the case -- I suspect this is how the puppies ate at her house.) She'll finish the rest and come to show me again, and then I praise her a lot and she wags her tail and is very happy. So all in all, she finishes her food. But what an ordeal! She seems to like the food ok, as when I put it in her Kong bone, she always eats all of it. I don't know if I should be ruthless in ignoring her, and removing the food in 15 minutes, like some advice says. (It takes her between 20 and 30 minutes to eat. Oddly, if I start to remove it, she is more interested in it.) Or should I just go with the flow and hope she'll outgrow this. (Her dinnertime is a little like this, but she's usually hungrier and eats within 15 minutes; sometimes I wonder if in the morning, she'd rather play than eat? I feed her after she goes out and before we play.) I don't want to encourage an eating disorder! Your suggestions appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Cavaliers have been around (in one form or another) for several centuries and they are past masters at manipulating their owners! Just think what a lot of fuss and attention your puppy is getting from you by refusing to eat. Every time you coax her, you are reinforcing the behaviour. Tough love is what is needed, otherwise you'll have a fussy eater for the rest of her life. So: put the food down, go off and do other things, come back 10 minutes later and if it isn't eaten, pick it up and put it away (if a dry food) until the next scheduled mealtime. No titbits, no treats, do the same next meal. A healthy dog won't starve itself. Have you got Ian Dunbar's book on puppy training? You can download it from here for free (though I always forget the link!), but it's one of the stickies at the top - or someone will read this and give you the link!

    Enjoy your pup - they're adorable at that age,

    Kate, Oliver and Aled

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    I agree with Kate she is training you. Its called tough love for a reason, its tougher on you than them!!! She'll get the idea quickly tho sounds like a very smart little girl.
    Melissa
    "If you don't own a dog, at least one, there is not necessarily anything wrong with you, but there may be something wrong with your life."
    -Roger Caras

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    Can't add much more as this is exactly what has to be done. It will probably be tougher on you then her. Just make sure you have water available at all times.
    Joyce - Proudly owned & loved by

    BellaMia (Aug. 30, 2012) My Beautiful Red Headed Baby Girl
    Sydney (
    April 16, 2000~April 4, 2012) Always and Forever In My Heart

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    Oh, dear. I was afraid of this. One thing I am wondering is whether I should change the morning order. I now take her out immediately, then feed her, then play with her. Would it be better to reverse the play and feed, so that she gets some attention first? Thanks for your thoughts on this.

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    Guinness used to vomit up water if he drank too soon after playing. Never bothered him at all, but it wasn't my favorite. He did outgrow that.

    I would take her out, take her feed+ignore, gently play (can lead to bloat).

    Or if you want to combine food plus play, you could do training using her breakfast kibble. Then she's working for breakfast, not you. Mental exercise is phenomenal for puppies.

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    I would take her out, feed her, feed yourself or do domestic things for a little while to let her food start digesting, then some play/training. You could use some of her breakfast allowance for training but I think the no.1 thing at the moment is to make clear that food in the dish means eat it now - and the more practice she has with that, the quicker she'll learn it. And if you're no longer spending time coaxing her to eat, there'll be all the more time for play and training!

    Kate, Oliver and Aled

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    Maggie, and her sister carly (owned by another lady) are having some issues too. getting them intersted in eating lately has been really challenging.
    theyre 4.5 months.. and two vets (we werent in for food related issues but i asked when i was in) have told me its due to teeting..

    i get up...get her outside..feed the cats..feed her..then i sit on the couch(check messages online) wile i wait for her to eat..shes always excited when im prepareing ..but looses interst when its placed. (i should knock on wood because shes acutaly been great this week)

    anyways...we are on acana..and i am happy with it (thinking of changing to vet perscribed food as my insurane pays half of it) but i tried warm water..or soaking it.. we (other owner) and i ahve tried throwing it on the floor.. hand feeding..
    finally i went to the pet store in frustration..and said i wanted some healhty canned food to mix in.
    so i got some..she loved it. Tripett . smelled disgusting..but loved it.

    she lost interest.

    so i went back in and found some other stuff.. i cant remeber what but its healthy 5 stars online. except it made her bm's loose. so..i started mixing the acana with wet food ..canned pumpkin... bms have improved.. shes eating amazng for the most part.
    it was kinda funny..the other day i was sitting on the couch not paying attentionto her..waiting for her to eat her breakfast.. and she came up..was trying to get my attention.
    i said
    "maggie eat your breakfast yummy"
    and she looked at me sad and went "Aweee" i swear she sounded like a child.
    it was the funniest thing.

    once in a rare time ill have to get down and try and hand feed her agian


    maybe they are training us.. but i think the vets are right to..at 4 months 4.5 months their teeth are probably bugging them. shes not even intersted in her blue berries and i tell you she lovessss blue berries. you should see the blue berry dance. its hallarious.
    Oliver and Max and Meeko man, i will meet you at the Rainbow bridge. I love you all. Miss you more then you'll ever know.
    wait for me...
    Chelsea

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    Thanks for all the great responses. Glad to know I'm not alone We've had a big breakthrough! In frustration yesterday, I dumped out what was left on her plate and told her she had 10 minutes. She immediately ate it all up, in 4 minutes. I remembered the breeder telling me she might eat better off the floor. I use a placemat and have started putting her food directly on that. Two more meals have passed, and she has eaten everything within 10 minutes without any interaction with me! So now I'm thinking her problem all along was she wanted me to move her food from the plate to the flat surface. I understand some dogs eat this way. Not sure if I should be concerned and try to move her to a bowl, but since it's working out ok, I'm feeling I should leave well enough alone. ALSO, I found a tooth on her placemat this morning!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by harvwald View Post
    Thanks for all the great responses. Glad to know I'm not alone We've had a big breakthrough! In frustration yesterday, I dumped out what was left on her plate and told her she had 10 minutes. She immediately ate it all up, in 4 minutes. I remembered the breeder telling me she might eat better off the floor. I use a placemat and have started putting her food directly on that. Two more meals have passed, and she has eaten everything within 10 minutes without any interaction with me! So now I'm thinking her problem all along was she wanted me to move her food from the plate to the flat surface. I understand some dogs eat this way. Not sure if I should be concerned and try to move her to a bowl, but since it's working out ok, I'm feeling I should leave well enough alone. ALSO, I found a tooth on her placemat this morning!
    I was going to suggest you try this--glad its working. Perhaps continue with the mat feeding and at some point start putting half in a bowl on the mat too. I suspect she'll clean the bowl out after cleaning the mat. Good luck. And like others said, she won't starve!

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