Not all dogs gobble up their food in seconds ...
Q: I have a nine-month-old Labrador-golden retriever cross, which is not growing well because it is not eating properly. It has been checked by my vet and he is satisfied it is healthy. I have been using dry all-in-one dog food since it was a small puppy and providing water in a separate bowl. It is fed morning and evening, but it will not eat its meals but picks at the food for an hour or so. I have tried gravy, which works for a week then we are back to square one. I was told not to feed raw food because the dog will be used as a gundog and that food will spoil its mouth. Can you please advise?
A: The last point is totally incorrect. Feeding fresh meat and other raw foods will certainly not affect its training nor subsequent use as a gundog. It would be much better to feed a healthy raw diet to make sure your puppy develops into a strong adult. Over many years I have fed all types of diet and I found that the best was raw food; however, it was more costly, more difficult to obtain and to store. Therefore when I had a kennel full of dogs, Skinner’s Working 23 served me well for more than 20 years.
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Picky eating can be cured quite easily, but you need to be firm with your feeding regime to effect a cure. I would make sure that no other treats are fed in between meals, just clean fresh water while the training takes place. Put a small bowl of food down for your dog and give the command to release it to eat. If it does not go straight to the food, pick the bowl up and do not present it again until the next meal time. It may take three or four days but hunger will eventually overcome its picky eating and the contents of the bowl will disappear immediately.
And what if your dog bolts his food down?
Q: My spaniel bolts his food down, and then almost immediately regurgitates it. Any suggestions on what I can do about it?
A: This is a common problem in both greedy and fearful type dogs.
They make no effort to chew food and just swallow whole, dry kibble, often also gulping down large amounts of air. Some will regurgitate and then be able to re-consume their meal without problems, although an acid burn of the oesophagus can occur if the problem becomes long term.
Sometimes soaking food can help a little but you could try one of the four solutions below.
Tips to stop your dog bolting food
- Feed from a height, so that the dog has to stand up on his hindlegs to reach food.
- You could try the Buster Dogmaze from Kruuse UK, an interactive toy that allows the dog to see and smell food but requires it to use its nose, tongue and paws to chase individual bits of kibble to the exit points. It can be particularly useful for easily bored dogs or to entertain dogs that have to be rested due to injury.
- Experiment with a few large (so that they cannot also be swallowed!) smooth pebbles placed in the food bowl so that the dog has to work around them to pick up food.
- Dry food can be put in a two-litre plastic drinks bottle with a few holes cut in so that the greedy hound has to roll it around to get food to drop out.