Behaviours In Training Logo

I have a picky eater.  At times, coaching him to eat was painful. Then there were the rules around eating: 

1 He had to eat before 8am (No sleeping in! He has a small tummy, so he had to eat before 8am or else he’d puke bile.)

2 Evening snack. (So he’d make it to 8am the next morning.) 

3 Not watching him eat 

4 Food dance (like a rain dance, but for food) 

5 Served at a temperature of 38 degrees (not really, but sometimes…) 

When I at Clicker Expo 2018 and listened to Kathy Sdao’s talk on eating (*”But My Dog Isn’t Food Motivated”), I heard one of the most mind blowing sentences I’d ever heard: 

Eating is a behaviour.   

Once I was home, the first morning my dog went to look at his bowl of homecooked food and turned away from it, I got excited! 

Here are some things I would suggest you check out first: 

•vet check (especially for intestinal or GI conditions) 

•dive into some clicker (or marker) training so the clicker =fun 

•check your dog food (could it have gone bad?) 

In order for this to work, I believe you need: 

  • familiarity with marker/clicker training 
  • super-awesome-favourite treats 
  • animal who won’t eat 

Here are the steps I did: 

  1. Get a handful of the super-awesome-favourite treats (cheese for us) 
  2. Bowl of food in one hand, treats in the other. 
  3. Give treat to mouth. (This tests whether your treats are truly as super-awesome-favourite as you thought). 
  4. Present bowl (I keep my elbow fixed to my side so that I’m not tempted to move the bowl toward them) 
  5. Click/treat (C/T) for looking, turning toward the bowl. (Since you just presented it, take advantage if their curiosity!) 
  6. Remove bowl when feeding treat. 
  7. Present bowl (remember elbow!)
  8. C/T for any movement towards bowl. Remove bowl when feeding treat. 

Below are the approximations that we usually end up with. Yours could be different and remember that you want to make it easy and fun so they WANT to eat that bowl of food!  

  1. look at bowl 
  2. Turn toward bowl 
  3. Move toward bowl 
  4. Nose over bowl 
  5. Chin over bowl 
  6. Chin over bowl, tilt nose into bowl 
  7. Chin in bowl, lick above food 
  8. Lick food 
  9. Lick food twice
  10. Lick food twice, open mouth 
  11. Lick food, takes a small bite of food
  12. Takes small bite of food
  13. Takes two small bites of food 
  14. Takes a mouthful of food 
  15. Takes two mouthfuls of food 
  16. Takes three mouthfuls of food
  17. Takes four-five mouthfuls of food 
  18. Let them finish food in bowl. 

Note: I have the bowl in my hand always. 

As tempting as it may be, try to click DURING them eating, not after when they look up or turn away from food.  I usually take the food bowl away and give them a treat, but you could also toss the treat into the bowl if they seem like they want to continue eating. 

Link to the video where I teach Truffle to eat:

Use EXTREME caution if your dog has guarded resources in the past.  

Disclaimer: This is only my personal experience. I have done this with two different dogs with success, but every journey is different. Highly recommend seeking professional help from a KPA-CTP 


Kathy Sdao’s video: But My Dog Isn’t Food Motivated

The food I feed: Hilary’s complete and balanced food


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