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Question
Posted by: Jo | 2011/05/11

battle of wills

Hi Scotty,
Thank you for all your advice you have given me so far.
I have 2 Jack Russells, one 3 years old and the other 4 months old. The 4 month old is a pleasure to feed, he eats all his food no problem. The problem I have is with the 3 year old pup, everytime it comes to feeding him it becomes a battle of wills it can take up to 45 minutes to feed him. When I call him to eat he wont come, I either have to go to him our fetch him and bring him to his food, then he''ll stand looking at his food for ages and it becomes a case of who outwaits who. It is not the food because he does this with all dog foods. This is not a recent thing either he has done it his whole life so its not like he''s ill. I have been told to take the food away and he''ll eat when he''s hungry but my problem is that he will go for days and not eat. He quite happily eats grass all day and people food, but I cant feed him our food because he tends to put on weight very easily. How can I get him to eat without this daily battle of wills?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageDog Behaviour Expert

Hi Jo, nice to hear from you again!

The person who gave you that advice is, unfortunately correct! The dog has figured a way to get and keep your attention, so will keep on doing it! What i would suggest you do is the following:-

a. Put the food down and walk out the room. Give him 15 minutes to eat and then take it away.

Here i would suggest putting in a little bit of cooked chicken or something equally yummy to encourage the dog to eat. When he is eating every time, then start reducing the quantity of the treats added to the food. Try to use something that you can mash so that the cubes get coated with it as well.

b. Repeat at the evening meal. It can take a dog up to 3-4 days before they cave in.

c. In between - ensure that nobody gives the dogs any food at all!

d. You need to bring in some basic house rules as well. Your little one is ruling the roost and an unbalance like this is not the ideal situation for a happy well behaved, well adjusted member of the family.

I gave Health24 an article about adopting a shelter dog which contained the basics, but i dont think they have linked it yet. If you cant find the article, have a look in my friendsofthedog website and you will find it there. Read the bit about Human/Canine Hierarchy which is towards the end and that will give you a good foundation to work from.

Do let me know how you go please, take care, Scotty

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

2
Our users say:
Posted by: Nic | 2011/05/11

I can vouch for this method. I used to spend ages trying to get my Basset pup to eat, eventually I realised how ridiculous I must look running after a dog with a food bowl. For the last two weeks I have been putting her food down for 15 min and then leaving her to it. She''s caught on like a little champ. The hardest part is your own feelings of guilt that your dog is being deprived - but they are your feelings not the dog''s. The animal''s survival instinct will win over it''s wish to manipulate you every time - it will not starve itself. Good luck and stay strong!

Reply to Nic
Posted by: Dog Behaviour Expert | 2011/05/11

Hi Jo, nice to hear from you again!

The person who gave you that advice is, unfortunately correct! The dog has figured a way to get and keep your attention, so will keep on doing it! What i would suggest you do is the following:-

a. Put the food down and walk out the room. Give him 15 minutes to eat and then take it away.

Here i would suggest putting in a little bit of cooked chicken or something equally yummy to encourage the dog to eat. When he is eating every time, then start reducing the quantity of the treats added to the food. Try to use something that you can mash so that the cubes get coated with it as well.

b. Repeat at the evening meal. It can take a dog up to 3-4 days before they cave in.

c. In between - ensure that nobody gives the dogs any food at all!

d. You need to bring in some basic house rules as well. Your little one is ruling the roost and an unbalance like this is not the ideal situation for a happy well behaved, well adjusted member of the family.

I gave Health24 an article about adopting a shelter dog which contained the basics, but i dont think they have linked it yet. If you cant find the article, have a look in my friendsofthedog website and you will find it there. Read the bit about Human/Canine Hierarchy which is towards the end and that will give you a good foundation to work from.

Do let me know how you go please, take care, Scotty

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