How to Get Your Picky Puppy to Eat

Some puppies are picky; it is as simple as that. They are willful, and they often refuse to eat the things that their owners put out for them. Unfortunately, having a picky dog is fairly common; just like humans, they have their own likes and dislikes. Dealing with your dog’s food preferences is not always easy, so below is a list of helpful tips and tricks that you can use to get your dog to eat. 

Is Your Dog Definitely Picky? 

While there are a lot of picky dogs out there, first things first, you need to make sure that your dog is being picky and there aren’t other factors at play. Sometimes what presents itself as picky eating might be an allergy. An allergy often has accompanying symptoms like itching, vomiting and diarrhea. If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms whilst also having an aversion to their food, they might not be picky at all. Allergies can’t be cured, but they can be treated either at home or medically. For example, you could try these home remedies for dog allergies by Native Pet, who also have a range of allergy-friendly pet chews too. 

A Hungry Dog Will Eat Eventually

Once you have established that your dog is not suffering from an allergy or overfed, you can begin to work on their picky tendencies. To start with, you should decide on the diet that you want to feed your dog. You may already have one in place, or you might be looking into the merits of the raw food diet or kibble. Once you have worked out the best diet for your dog and your lifestyle, you can get to work. 

Start by dishing up their food and leaving it out for them for twenty minutes. If your dog hasn’t touched their food after this time, you should take it up. Do not feed your dog any other food or treats during this time. After a couple of hours, repeat the process and put their food down for them again. It may seem cruel, but eventually, they will be hungry enough to eat their food. 

If your dog hasn’t eaten anything in 24 hours, then you might want to consider giving them something that they will eat. However, most of the time, your dog will give in well before this time. Therefore, you should never give in immediately and give your dog something else because this reinforces the idea that if your dog turns their nose up, it will get a tasty reward. 

Make the Transition Slowly

Another method you could use to get your picky dog to eat is the transition method. First, start them with a diet of things that you know that they will eat. The next step to this diet is to slowly introduce the food you want them to eat while decreasing the amount of the food they already like. 

For dogs that are particularly picky, this process can take some time; it might be a month or more before your dog is completely transitioned to their new diet. Use twenty percent increments and work them up weekly. For example, week one’s food should consist of eighty percent old or reliable diet and twenty percent of the new food. Week two will be a sixty-forty split and so on. Changing their food too quickly can have adverse reactions on their health.

Remove All Distractions 

It is easy to find yourself hovering around your dog’s food bowl anxiously waiting for them to eat, but this could be part of the problem. Dogs are adept at picking up on moods and then mirroring them back to their owners. In addition, some dogs can have their own anxieties around food and simply prefer to eat in private. 

Put their food down and leave them to it. Give them twenty minutes to eat in private before returning to see how much they have managed. You should always feed your dogs before preparing or eating yourself. This ensures that your dog isn’t distracted by the sights, sounds or smells of all the food that they won’t get to eat. 

Make the Food More Appealing 

If you aren’t having much luck with the other methods, then you might want to try boosting the appeal of their meals. This does not mean that you have to resort back to subsidizing their meals with snacks or treats. Instead, you could try increasing their exercise around mealtimes to make them more likely to eat.

Adding in some vegetables can provide some extra flavour and texture, which can encourage them to eat while also keeping the calories low. You could also add some chicken, vegetable, or bone broth for some extra flavour. Make sure to check the salt and fat content before giving it to your dog. Finally, if nothing else works, then warming the food or hand-feeding can help. Although neither is ideal, you can’t let your dog starve. 


Dealing with a picky puppy is stressful. However, following the above tips can help to lessen your stress at mealtimes and combat your dogs’ picky tendencies. It is all about maintaining your resolve and sticking with it. It will come down to a battle of the wills; you simply need to last longer than your dog.

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