You have just brought your new dog home, provided him with a comfy bed, loads of toys and some tasty kibble. Yet, he turns his nose at the food bowl and looks at you with the most disgusted face. Don't get offended, and most of all, don't be too quick to label your new pooch as finicky; even though you tried your best to start on the right paw, most likely your pooch just needs some extra time to adjust.
Too Much to Handle
Try to put yourself in your new dog shoes, even though he doesn't wear any. He just got into a new home with new people, new smells and new noises. Despite all you do, his routine will be disrupted and he may be somewhat stressed. As much as you're eager to let all your friends and family meet him, it's best to give Scruffy some space and time to adjust. Moving to a new home is stressful for many dogs and when a dog is stressed, the appetite is often the first thing to go out the window.
Loads of Excitement
Stress aside, some dogs may be over the top with excitement the first day in your home. If your new dog moves a lot, explores and goes back and forth eager to get attention from you and your family, he may be refusing food simply because there are way too many other great things going on. Finally, once he settles down and relaxes, his next thought may be to just curl up and take a deserved nap rather than eat.
Missing Mama and Sibs
If you just got a new puppy, he may feel a bit lonely and scared of suddenly being in unfamiliar surroundings. Being used to living with his mother and siblings since the day he was born, it's quite normal for him to whine and feel a tad bit lonely the first night. If your pup refuses food, consider that some pups may require some privacy, a little bit of coaxing or perhaps some companionship to eat. Keep an eye on small breed pups though; they're susceptible to low blood sugar and need frequent feedings in small quantities.
If your newbie dog doesn't seem too interested in the food you're offering, try to call the previous owner, shelter or breeder and inquire about his prior eating habits. Chances are, he was used to eating a certain type of food and may not be too happy with what you offered. Also, ask if he had free access to food all day or if he was fed at different times. You want to replicate your dog's previous schedule as much as possible. Avoid abrupt diet changes prevent an upset tummy.
Tips to Encourage Eating
If your dog is not interested in food, don't force it; just try again at the next feeding time. Chances are, once he adjusts and realizes there's nothing to be afraid of, he'll resume eating. Walking him and engaging him in play may help bring his appetite back. Warming up the food in the microwave or adding a bit of warm water or broth to the food may make it more enticing. However, just to be on the safe side you may want your new pal checked by a vet especially if he's a young pup and continues to not be interested in food.
By Adrienne Farricelli
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About the Author
Adrienne Farricelli has been writing for magazines, books and online publications since 2005. She specializes in canine topics, previously working for the American Animal Hospital Association and receiving certification from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Her articles have appeared in "USA Today," "The APDT Chronicle of the Dog" and "Every Dog Magazine." She also contributed a chapter in the book " Puppy Socialization - An Insider's Guide to Dog Behavioral Fitness" by Caryl Wolff.