Lesson 1 – Mealtime on time

Do you feed your dog out of a bowl? Do they hoover it up or graze throughout the day, or save it all until just before bedtime? 

Let’s start to build that food motivation now! If your dog isn’t already on a feeding schedule, that’s our first step on a schedule. This might take some willpower on your end and definitely some consistency. 

Directions:

For the next five days, you will set aside some time at mealtime to monitor your dog. 

  • Place your dog’s regular meal in the bowl and place the bowl on the floor as usual
  • Check the time and make a note to return in ten minutes
  • When ten minutes is up, return and if the dog is not actively eating out of the bowl, remove it, place the meal in an airtight, food-grade container and put it away. 
  • At the next mealtime (usually 8-12 hours later) you will repeat this sequence. If the dog chooses to eat in that time, fantastic! If they don’t, the meal is saved until the next mealtime, even if that means overnight. 

Note: You might choose to set a timer, however, be aware that your dog may figure out this pattern and become anxious or stressed when the timer goes off and you take away the food bowl. 

Repeat this sequence for five days and track your progress on a piece of paper. By the fourth or fifth day, your dog should be eating the meals when the food is presented, within ten minutes.

If your dog is still not eating after the first two days, we might suggest considering the following:

  • Is your dog getting food from another source? Treats on walks, stuffed Kongs, other members of the household, neighbours, trashcan-diving? If so, you will need to create consistency across the board in order for this to be effective
  • If the answer to the above question is “no”, then after 2 days of not eating, I would suggest speaking with your veterinarian as dogs will not starve themselves unless they are unwell or in pain. Your vet may recommend a thorough checkup including a dental exam and perhaps even blood work. 

Once you have completed this, move on to Lesson 2!