Does your dog hate her new medication? Or that new food that you spent way too much money on? Or does she turn their nose up at her new chew bone?
Dogs, just like people, have individual preferences for food tastes and textures.
It’s perfectly fine to seek out foods and treats that they actually like.
But sometimes, you need to persuade your little dog to try something new.
At first, something that smells and tastes unfamiliar may not register as “food” to your dog. But with a little coaxing and a few good experiences, you can actually teach your dog to like something.
Here’s some things you can do to persuade your dog to eat something she doesn’t seem to like:
Use It As A Training Reward
Dogs like working for their food.
Doesn’t dinner always taste better after you’ve had a long day of work?
Try asking your dog to do a few of her tricks before giving her that unwanted treat.
She may be more open to eating it just because she earned it.
Pretend It’s Prey
Similar to the above, food seems to taste better after it has been chased.
If it’s a new kibble that your dog won’t try, see if she’ll give it a chance after you roll around a few pieces on the floor.
Or, try hiding them in a towel, or a snuffle mat. Make eating an adventure!
Smother It In Smelly Stuff
Maybe the thing your dog doesn’t like is too bland. Or, your dog just doesn’t like the flavor.
Dogs have a poor sense of taste, so as long as you are able to mask the scent with something pungent, you’ll likely be able to get her to eat almost anything.
A spoonful of mashed, canned fish like sardines in water or salmon can coat almost anything. You can also try freeze dried liver treats, or even the dust from the bottom of the liver treat container.
If you’re spicing up dry kibble, I’d suggest mixing it with some warm water and then adding your topper, then mixing it all together and letting it soak for a few minutes before serving. That way, the flavor will completely permeate each and every bite.
Peanut butter makes everything tastier, too. A little goes a long way, and remember, it can be high in fats and sugar. Extra fat isn’t too bad for your dog, as long as it isn’t excessive. Too much fat can cause acute pancreatitis.
Pretend It’s Forbidden People Food
Does your dog rush over every time you drop food on the floor?
If so, she’ll probably eat anything if you put it on a plate, sit at the dinner table, and pretend to drop it.
This won’t work, of course, if you actively discourage your dog from eating things that you drop. I personally don’t mind if my dogs hang out in the kitchen and scavenge; it’s not the best manners, but I like not having to clean up when I drop things.
If it’s something edible, for example, a vegetable, try eating it and letting your dog smell your breath. No, really!
In a study, researchers seasoned bowls of dog food with basil and parsley. They let a first dog eat one type of seasoning, and then allowed a second dog to smell its breath. The second dog usually chose to eat the food that matched the seasoning on the first dog’s breath.
Of course, I can’t find this study. Maybe it came to me in a dream… because really, who would fund that??
Update: YES. I found the University of Alaska study. It was basil and thyme, not parsley.
Anyway, dogs really do use social cues to decide what to eat.
It can also help to have a second dog nearby who likes the food your other dog doesn’t want.
Change The Temperature
Try splashing some warm water over the food or treat. Or, sear it lightly on your stove-top, if possible.
Warm foods release their aromas more potently, making them more inviting.
You can also try freezing it to alter the texture.
With certain chew bones, like Himalayan yak chews, it helps to use a bit of warm water to get the chew started. It’ll be easier and more rewarding for your dog to begin chewing, and she’ll likely take it from there.
Hold Onto It
If you’re feeding a bone, chew, or something similar, it can help to hold onto one end to stabilize it while your dog gives it a try.
Dogs may give up too easily while sampling their first bones or chews because they may not know how to hold it.