Firstly, it’s important to know that fussiness is common with a lot of breeds, particularly the smaller ones. A lot of the time this can be fixed up with some simple changes to routine, environment or even their daily treat intake. However, if you are seriously concerned, and their fussy behaviour is leading to suspected health-related issues or rapid weight loss, we urge you to immediately consult your local vet.
As always, we hope to illuminate some fascinating tips to help your furry friend fall in love with mealtime, whether that is for the first time, or just the first time in a while.
1. Keep things consistent
What time do you tend to have your breakfast and dinner? Would it throw you off if you weren’t in control of whether dinner was on the table at 5pm or 8pm, or even more so if that time changed constantly?
Well, you’re not alone. In fact, your dog pays more attention to the time of day than you’d think. Dogs are very habitual creatures, and setting a routine can be hugely beneficial in creating more consistent clean bowl results. We’re not saying to be down to the minute fanatics, but for example, if you’re feeding their evening meals at 6:45pm one day, and 7pm the next day, this is predictable; however, feeding at 7:30pm one day, and 5pm the next day can cause a bit of confusion.
We also see dogs that are given time frames to eat, such as 20 minutes before the bowl is taken away lets the dog know if they have not finished their meal, it will be a few hours before they get their next. Leaving the bowl there all day is not only a health hazard, but also gives your buddy no reason to gobble up their meals when they should.
2. Time for a change?
Some dinner choices can certainly be a bit less exciting than others. As their commonly called, those ‘burnt brown balls’ might not be what your pup is champing at the bit for when dinner time comes around. It might be time to jazz things up.
Look into alternatives, and more specifically meals that have been proven to entice the fussiest of pups. Fresh dog foods that are packed with high quality meats and fresh vegies are far likelier to see even the fussiest of pups coming back for more.
If you’re unsure where to start, we will give you some suggestions at the end of this blog.
3. Reward eating at mealtime
Now, we are going to talk soon about what motivates your dog, but when we say reward, your brain might instantly jump to treats, or other edible incentives.
What we really mean is get excited, if they don’t usually lick the bowl clean, make sure you make it a big deal if they do. Affection or a quick walk can really incentivise your pup to make sure it happens again.
4. Understand it might not be about the food
Some dogs are very motivated by food, it may even seem like it’s all they think about. Other dogs have different ideas; walkies, affection and attention may be what your pet truly desires, and mealtime is just to satisfy hunger.
In this case, it’s really important to make mealtime as comfortable and simple as possible. Environment can come in to play here. Where does your dog usually eat? Do they have a separate and dedicated eating area?
Find a spot where their food and water lives permanently, and don’t have them eating at different ends of the house at random. This may make a big difference in getting that bowl consistently licked clean.
5. Too many treats
This one might sound like a no-brainer, but it is important to mention that treats can really fill their tummy up if given in excess.
If they’ve had a big day of learning tricks and have ended up smashing through half a packet of treats in an afternoon, odds are they’re not going to be devouring their din dins as usual.
In a more common example, giving a little table scrap because those eyes beside you at the dinner table are just too much to handle, for a smaller dog a decent off-cut chunk of your steak could be equating to a quarter of their dinner in one mouthful.
Like tucking into the cheese platter before a big family dinner, this can really ruin a good appetite for the main course!
6. Their meals are just not exciting anymore
If you were asked to choose one meal for the rest of your days, you might trivialise that the tasty chicken schnitzel at the local pub would suffice. But the reality is that our dogs are at the mercy of what we choose to feed them. If you’re always serving up the same bowl of brown burnt pellets and expecting that chef’s kiss moment, that just isn’t it.
If you are seriously considering changing your dog’s diet for better, and you're yet to see what food designed for fussy dogs can do, take a moment to check out the below meals.