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Old 10-05-2015, 09:12 AM
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Pomp Pomp is offline
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Default Rescue dog won't eat - training issue?


I rescued a 1 year, 9 month old Treeing Walker Coonhound yesterday (Sunday) from a great no-kill shelter in my area. It's in Rhode Island and they pull dogs out of high-kill shelters in the south, particularly in South Carolina.

Before I adopted her, I visited her a few times in the shelter and noticed that she wouldn't eat a full meal in one sitting, and her dog food would end up on the floor in her cage. And, when someone would give her a treat, she would only eat some of it, and leave the rest on the floor.

So when I brought her home and gave her dinner (frozen chicken drumstick), she only eat some of it. Thinking she wasn't used to raw, I figured breakfast today would go better. So I gave her Nature's Variety Instinct, which is a frozen "raw" dog food. She wouldn't eat that either.

When she was brought up from South Carolina, the transport people gave the shelter a bag of awful commercial food, which they then passed along to me. I experimented a little bit, and she would eat some of that -- but again, not in huge bunches. However, I have no intention on feeding her that low-quality food. She's also eaten a little pasta that I had leftover, just so I could get some food in her. I bought some turkey breast today and I'm going to cook up and see if she'll eat that.

Her energy level is off the charts. All her tests came back fine. She's happy. But she's basically a puppy. There's been no obedience training and doesn't even know her name. I'm assuming she's never had any feeding structure also.

It's worth noting that I have two other hounds, and they are on a set feeding schedule.

My Q: How do I get this new girl to eat? And how do I get her to eat the good stuff? It seems like her current preferences are for the crappy stuff.

Thanks in advance for any tips.
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Old 10-05-2015, 01:05 PM
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milos_mommy milos_mommy is offline
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You've got a few things going on here.

1. You JUST adopted her. Lots of dogs won't feel comfortable eating in a new environment or take a few days.
2. She's used to lower quality food, so consider how eager people who live on fast food and cola are to switch to grilled veggies and water.
3. You don't know her history, she could have been incorrectly handled regarding stealing food or eating, and may be nervous about it.

She may not understand how to eat raw at all. She may not even see it as food. I would start by introducing her to a higher quality kibble...I'm not big on mixing kibble but it may be necessary to mix it with something lower quality that she's used to. Or just mix in something like some cooked chicken or ground meat, if she likes that.

I would start by offering her food three times a day, rather than twice. Although unless she's underweight or really struggling to eat anything, twice is fine. Put the food down for a half hour. I'd leave her alone with it, or maybe try different things like feeding her outside or in her crate, which may be what she's used to or make her feel safer.

I'd give it 2-3 days (especially if she is eating some treats or a few bites of the meal) and see how she does. I'd also limit what extra food and treats she gets in between, so she's quite hungry, unless she's very underweight.

Try to keep her meal times as quiet and calm as possible. She'll likely soon start eating normally. If she still refuses to eat after a few days and you try a few different food options, I'd talk to the vet.

You also should eventually be able to teach her to eat raw, but for now I'd just get her comfortable eating meals at all on schedule in your home.
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Old 10-06-2015, 07:10 PM
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Pomp Pomp is offline
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Thank you kindly for the tips. Very sage advice. I certainly will implement some of your points, including:

- keeping her feed area calm
- giving her time to eat it

We discovered that she likes real turkey, and she's gobbled that up over the past two days. Granted, it's just turkey, but it's better than that kibble. It's a start.

You make some great points. I noticed that when she eats she pulls the food from her bowl and then eats it outside of the bowl. Maybe an indication of her trying to steal food in the past, like you said.

Appreciate you taking the time to respond.

Last edited by Pomp; 10-06-2015 at 07:29 PM.
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Old 10-06-2015, 07:23 PM
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BostonBanker BostonBanker is offline
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It sounds like she's picking at her old food as well as the new stuff you are offering her?

I agree with MM that she quite likely just needs some time to settle, but I'll also throw out there that this:

I noticed that when she eats she pulls the food from her bowl and then eats it outside of the bowl.
is what my normally good-eating dog does if he doesn't feel great. I saw a lot of the it the last few months while he was dealing with a gastric ulcer. He'd pick up a piece of kibble, let it fall out of his mouth onto the floor, pick it back up, slowly eat it, and eventually just walk away without eating much. I know you said "all her tests came back fine", but I'll throw that out there as something to keep in mind, especially if you start to see any other signs that she might not feel 100%.

Honestly, if it were me, and she was eating her old food fairly well, I'd let her keep eating it for the first couple of weeks. Of course it isn't great for her, but she's likely been eating crappy food for nearly 2 years now. Another couple of weeks, while she settles in, isn't going to make much of a difference. Her whole life has been turned upside down; giving her time to adjust a bit before changing her diet might not be the worst idea in the world. You've got plenty of time to spoil her with the high quality stuff once she realizes she is actually home .

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Old 10-06-2015, 07:28 PM
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So sounds like I'm jumping the gun before I should start to be concerned.
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