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Discussion Starter #1
My pit bull, Natalia, will not eat by herself, with me coaxing her, with canned food, or with warm water. She gets really stressed out when I give her her food, she shivers when I sit with her and coax her, but alone she just ignores the food. I think she can feel that I am stressed and frustrated with her because it really is emotionally draining to have to fight every day to get her to eat. She is HEALTHY though, this has been going on for a long time and the problem has been adressed at the vet. I am about to feed her now, and I am sweating it. If I put it down, and take it up after ten minutes and just say "tough luck", how many meals will she skip before she eats? Also, will she get back in the habit of eating all her food without trouble? She is 42-44 lbs and i give her 2 cups of orijen adult. She has been through an adventure of switching foods, trying to find something she will eat, but i give up. Its not the flavor, its psychological.
Wat are your experiences with this? Does the strict ten minute schedule work?
 

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When I had only one dog I left food out all the time and she ate when she wanted to. She was a picky eater back then and I seriously only went through 1-50 lb bag of food a YEAR! She has maintained her weight for 6 years, not gaining or loosing a pound. She didn't over eat and as long as she ate what she felt she needed and remained healthy it worked. I would try just leaving the food out for your dog, if she over eats(which I highly doubt) then you can go back to a routine. If the food is out and she can eat whenever(my dogs only eat when I'm home and yours will probably eat when your not)there will be less stress for everyone and she might actually eat. Good Luck.
 

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I would just put the food down and if she doesn't eat, take it away after 20 minutes.

If she's an adult, healthy dog, she can go several days without eating without any ill effects.
 

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I would just put the food down and if she doesn't eat, take it away after 20 minutes.

If she's an adult, healthy dog, she can go several days without eating without any ill effects.
Why do you feel the food has to be taken away? What would it hurt for the food to be left down, so that she knows she can have it whenever she is hungry? Don't you think it would less stressful for the dog if she wasn't forced to eat? Putting it down and taking it away after a certain time period is the same as force feeding her...the dog is a bundle of nerves..Let her eat in her own time!!!
 

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No, that is nothing like force feeding her. She still chooses on her own whether she wants to eat or not, i.e. no force.

I prefer to have a set feeding them because it means I know when they need to go out. Also, it means they are hungry for when I want to train them.

According to the OP, the dog is only nervous when the owner tries to get it to eat, not when they put the food down and leave the dog to it. Quite possibly the dog is only stressed because they are picking up something from the owner, OR the dog has learnt that acting pathetic gets her lots of attention. It's been known to happen.

Either way, having a set feeding time doesn't hurt any dog, nervous or not.
 

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Why do you feel the food has to be taken away? What would it hurt for the food to be left down, so that she knows she can have it whenever she is hungry? Don't you think it would less stressful for the dog if she wasn't forced to eat? Putting it down and taking it away after a certain time period is the same as force feeding her...the dog is a bundle of nerves..Let her eat in her own time!!!
Giving a dog a quiet and calm 20 minutes to eat is in no way similar to force feeding the dog.

Set meal times have benefits- the dog will have a more consistent need for a potty break, you can see how much the dog is eating and see changes in the dog's eating habits that might signify health problems like tooth ache or illness, you can shift the feeding time to be able to use the kibble as training treats for a class or home training session, and if the dog ever isn't the only dog in the house then you are able to feed the dogs separately and make sure each dog has enough food and avoid resource guarding problems. If the dog is ever boarded, the dog will likely need to be able to eat during a mealtime and not free fed.

To the OP- have you had her teeth checked? If the vet has okayed her health overall and her teeth are fine then I agree with lil_fuzzy to just offer food 2-3 times per day at "mealtime" and take it up 20-25 minutes later. Make sure she has a quiet and stress free location to eat. She may also prefer a different food bowl and try taking off her collar if she is wearing one (sometimes tags clank the bowl and annoy the dog while eating)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I checked her teeth, I brush them, and they look fine. Right now, we are trying to give her a bland chicken and rice diet with probiotics. It went well the first day, but today she has eaten very little. The reason I put her on the bland diet was because we had to switch her from freeze dried to kibble. Our vets support raw completely, but k9 natural is 51% fat which is dangerously high, and she doesn't like honest kitchen, and its just so expensive. So we tried feeding her orijen adult which i what I plan to feed her after all this. She ate orijen happily the first time I gave it to her, and even the second, but then it all went down hill. You cant mix raw and kibble so we switched her cold turkey. That, I believe, upset her stomach because her stools softened considerably. My vet knows what is going on, and I am keeping her informed. If Natalia does not eat by tomorrow morning, that will be a day and a half, or if anything else happens, I will make an appointment.
 

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According to the OP, the dog is only nervous when the owner tries to get it to eat, not when they put the food down and leave the dog to it. Quite possibly the dog is only stressed because they are picking up something from the owner, OR the dog has learnt that acting pathetic gets her lots of attention. It's been known to happen.

Either way, having a set feeding time doesn't hurt any dog, nervous or not.
Read the post again, the dog ignores the food when left on her own and gets stressed out when she is forced fed...leave the food out to see if she will eat on her own eventually without the owner present. Put the food(measure it if your not comfortable not knowing what she ate) down and walk away...check periodically to see if she ate any on her own. The 20 minute rule can't apply to a dog that won't eat at all. You can put that food up and down all day long, but this dog isn't going to eat it and obviously she's a stubborn or sick puppy--I hope she is just stubborn!!
 

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I checked her teeth, I brush them, and they look fine. Right now, we are trying to give her a bland chicken and rice diet with probiotics. It went well the first day, but today she has eaten very little. The reason I put her on the bland diet was because we had to switch her from freeze dried to kibble. Our vets support raw completely, but k9 natural is 51% fat which is dangerously high, and she doesn't like honest kitchen, and its just so expensive. So we tried feeding her orijen adult which i what I plan to feed her after all this. She ate orijen happily the first time I gave it to her, and even the second, but then it all went down hill. You cant mix raw and kibble so we switched her cold turkey. That, I believe, upset her stomach because her stools softened considerably. My vet knows what is going on, and I am keeping her informed. If Natalia does not eat by tomorrow morning, that will be a day and a half, or if anything else happens, I will make an appointment.
How long have you had her? And how long has she been this way with food?
 

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What stresses dogs is having their owners fuss over them when it comes to food. They feel that you're stressed and then they stress. A dog can go a very long time without food, I wouldn't worry at all unless she gets alarmingly underweight. Put the food down. Leave it for as long as you want, and try not to care whether she eats it or not, or how much she eats. Some dogs are "easy keepers" and need very little food to maintain their body weight. I do think that picking up the food after a set time makes the dog more likely to eat (the same psychological effect that makes people call HSN because there's a countdown timer :p), but if you're going to stress about her eating in that time period it will defeat the purpose. Whatever will make you stress the least is the best option.
 

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I might be reading this wrong, but it sounds like the food issues started when you transitioned from a raw food to a kibble?
She could just be annoyed that her more tasty food isn't available anymore :) In which case, letting her be, providing the food and letting her choose whether to eat it or not will show her that the raw food isn't coming back and she needs to get used to the kibble.

I agree with Willowy; relax, give her the food and let her eat or not eat.

Also, she might not need that much food. Orijen is a high quality food packed with calories. My 75 lbs dog eat 2 cups daily of a similar brand (Earthborn Primitive Natural) and my 40 lbs Pit Bull foster eats 1.5 cups daily because we are trying to put weight on her (came to me kinda skinny). She will soon go to 1 cup daily to maintain her weight. Pit Bulls tend to have sensitive stomachs and switches and overfeeding can really lead to upset stomachs and "canon butt"
 

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Discussion Starter #12
My vet told me to do the 20 minute thing, it is natural, dogs do not have a constant food source in the wild. They hunt their food, and when they make a kill they eat right away because it isn't like grass, it wont be there forever. I have cured one fussy dog with schedule feeding and I will do it again, Natalia is just more stubborn. Even before the raw, she was on two cups of grain free kibble (earthborn, actually) and she quit eating it which prompted us to go to the raw in the first place. This amount of grain free kibble has gotten her to, and will keep her at 42-45 lbs. That is what she needs.
 

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Then just put it down, take it up in 20 minutes, and don't think about it. Be very matter-of-fact. If you get mad or frustrated or worried about her not eating, that'll just add to the problem. I've seen it a million times in dogs I know. I don't know why people worry about it so much (unless the dog is tiny, he/she will not starve to death) but it seems to be a major issue for a lot of dog owners. I did it with my first dog and she never improved until I just stopped thinking about it. Eat it or don't. . .not my problem! :p
 

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I know, I shouldn't think about it but when I found her she was only 25 lbs, skinny with mange and I just keep thinking about that dog she used to be...:( Its not rational, and I am handling it better than I used to. I have to detach myself as much as possible for Natalia's sake. If she hasn't eaten by noon or so, I think I should call the vet.
 

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i think you're dealing with a behaviour issue, rather than a food issue.

put the food down and walk away. if she hasn't eaten in twenty minutes or so, pick the food up and offer it later.

as long as she is drinking, she can go up to eight days without food....it's usually the human who gives in.

but i think what's happening is you have this loop of stress between you and the dog....and the cycle of stress needs to be broken.

i'd bet that when it comes to mealtime, you're stressed before you even get her bowl out. she feels it and she's stressed....then the play begins and repeats itself with every meal.

you are each training each other.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I called the vet, She is convinced that there is nothing wrong with her so she gave me a free sample of natures variety raw medallions to mix with her food, and weighed her. She is 41.1 lbs so still the same, I think she was 42 ish before. I hope this works. And a dog's organs begin to fail by seven days, thats what I have always been told so you never want them to go that long.
 

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I've never known a dog to go more than 3 days. . .

NV medallions are yummy. Or so my dogs say :D.
 

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I called the vet, She is convinced that there is nothing wrong with her so she gave me a free sample of natures variety raw medallions to mix with her food, and weighed her. She is 41.1 lbs so still the same, I think she was 42 ish before. I hope this works. And a dog's organs begin to fail by seven days, thats what I have always been told so you never want them to go that long.
dogs can go a long time without eating, as can humans.....i believe you've heard wrong.....the one thing that has to be in play is hydration. without that, yes, then organs will fail.

having said that, i have not seen a dog THAT stubborn....

i don't think there's anything wrong with your dog, either.....but i do think she's playing you and it's stressing both of you out.
 

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She didn't like the medallions but I went back to mixing in the canned food and she ate 1 and 1/3 cup :)
I'm glad she ate as that shows she (very likely) has no health problems preventing her from eating fine.

But you do know that she successfully manipulated you into adding the canned food and making her dry food more special, right? :)
 
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