Teaching an old dog new tastes.

Dogs are exactly like people, in that every one of them has their own unique likes and dislikes. My two little dogs are no different. Maddy has very limited, very unadventurous tastes, and while she will occasionally eat something new, she quickly makes it obvious that her preference in food will always be a simple spiced pumpkin oatmeal cookie. Like a comfort blanket, she always has one within easy reach. Pip has a more adventurous, more sophisticated palate, which is appropriate for a Melbourne girl.

Sometimes it can be hard to persuade your dog to try something new, even if it is good for them.

Trying to persuade Maddy to regularly eat anything other than her cookies is tough, but I have found there are a few tried and true methods that rarely fail.

The "I'm hungry" method

When a dog gets hungry, even a fussy dog will try something new. Like with a child, sometimes feeling the need to eat is a stronger urge than the need to be overly picky.

This is how I first persuaded Maddy to eat the cookies that made such a difference to her life. In her typical fashion, she turned her nose up at them, and in desperation, I left them with her and walked away - without giving her an alternative. Figuratively, I've never had to look back, and it was one of the best things I have ever done for her. Be prepared to do this several times until they have adjusted to the taste of something new.

The best time to try something new is always when your dog is hungry.

The "I'll leave you to think about it" method.

I've often found with my little dogs that persuading them to try something new on the spot doesn't always work, but turning their little snouts up at something doesn't necessarily mean the rejection of something new. Sometimes it helps to break up the new treat into pieces, and put it somewhere that you know they will often wander by. Chances are that within a short period of time, the treat will have been eaten, and a new taste acquired, or at least introduced to their palate.

Sometimes, your dog just needs to be able to have their new food in their own time.

The "Come on, just a little bit" (repeat) method.

When all else fails, as it often does with Maddy, I resort to this method. Even with her shredded chicken in the evening, I have to coax her to eat this way. Once I have made it past the initial taste hurdle, she will generally continue to eat. This is how I acclimatised her to her digestive drops, and now, many months later, she will happily eat them by herself, provided I still break them up. I would take a miniscule piece of the treat, sit it on the end of my fingertip, and stick it under her nose, while gently coaxing her "come on Maddy, try a little piece of this". As often as she would turn her head, I would move my finger to just under her nose, all the time positively coaxing and encouraging, and sounding like a mum trying to cajole a nervous child up a rope-ladder. Maddy is fairly hilarious in that she will stick out her little tongue in the direction of my finger as if to say, "there, see, I tried it", without actually tasting the food. Once she finally gives in and tastes the treat, it is fairly easy to get her to eat little pieces until it is all gone. Bear in mind all the pieces have to be kept very small and non-confronting. Going through this laborious and often frustrating process does over time, yield the desired results, and eventually you will have a dog that is so used to its new treats, it will eat them happily and without all the ritual.

58 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
House of Barkleigh Logo.png