There can be a lot of different reasons why your dog becomes a fussy eater. For instance, their appetite can diminish because of sudden changes in their environment (like moving house or re-organizing your dog’s areas), diet modifications, illness (particularly dental) and even household changes or additions like new pets and babies can affect them.
However, once fussy eating has started, dogs can often realise the potential in rejecting their usual food and the attention it brings with it. Trying to remain firm over what they eat works with most dogs, who within a day or so, learn that there isn’t a second option, but this is not good to try with puppies or elderly vulnerable seniors where missing a meal can have more serious consequences. With these groups, making the food as tasty as possible to tempt them into eating, adding warm water and low-salt gravies to soften kibbles can also make it easier for them to eat. Alternatively supplementing small amounts of wet dog food can provide another texture and aroma to encourage them to eat.
Preventing dogs from becoming fussy eaters can be a lot easier than re-training them and there are a number of things you can try to help prevent it in the first place. Keeping human and dog food separate so if your dog has scraps, these are transferred to your dog’s bowl first, creating a clear defining line between human and dog food, which will also help avoid scavenging and begging behaviours. If you are changing your dog’s food, gradual changes over at least a week will help to ensure that the new food is accepted easily. Eliminating snacks and treats and sticking to regular mealtimes will help your dog learn the routine and let him build an appetite for meals. A regular programme of regular daily walks may also provide your dog with enjoyable mental stimulation and exercise to help him with his appetite and general health.