This morning I was seeking inspiration and came across this blog about dogs who are not enthusiastic eaters. I had to laugh because the only time I had known a dog who did not eat with enthusiasm was when they were sick. However, as I read this piece I realized that a lot of her advice had to do with people as well personally and spiritually. So today, I am trying something a bit different and my responses to her are in italics.
Most dogs are eager eaters. You’d be hard-pressed to find a dog that actually knows how to chew.
However, there are some dogs who don’t eat well. Some are finicky about what foods they eat while others are just less than enthusiastic about the whole experience. There are temporary circumstances when your dog’s appetite may suffer and that includes vaccinations, illnesses, changes in the household, changes in his normal routine or travel. But these are usually short lived decreases in his appetite that will return to normal without much delay.
If there are no known reasons for your dog’s lack of enthusiasm for eating, then your dog may just be picky. Or he may be refusing to eat in hopes of getting something different or better (from his point of view). However, there are some things you can do to increase his appetite.
Some humans don’t eat well either. Some of us are finicky about what we eat. Sometimes it is associated with what is going on in our lives, but sometimes we would prefer something other then what is served, especially when we were children. However, some of us do not eat well spiritually either. While it is important to not just internalize anything into our belief system, If we eat spiritual food without taking the time to digest it, we can develop spiritual indigestion.
Increase His Exercise and Activities
Regular exercise is good for your dog. A long walk, a good jog, a game of fetch or some time on the agility course is always great fun and healthy for mind and body; yours and your dog’s. Plus, your dog burns calories while exercising and will be more apt to eat come dinner time.
Regular exercise is healthy for people too. It increases our energy and enthusiasm for life. However, it is not only important to exercise physically to the best of our capacity, but to also engage in some sort of spiritual exercises so that we can continue to grow and evolve spiritually.
Feed in a Safe Place
If you regularly feed your dog in a busy place, such as the kitchen while the family’s meals are being prepared, your dog may not be able to concentrate on his food. Puppies especially are easily distracted. It’s much better for your dog to feed him in quiet, safe place. If you have a crate for your dog, that can work. Place his food in the back of his crate and have him eat there.
I am not going to suggest any of us eat in a crate, but that we do eat in a space where we can be mindful of what and how we eat and that it be in a space of love and positive energy where we feel safe and nurtured. We digest things better when we eat mindfully and feel safe and at peace.
Feed Twice a Day on a Schedule
Dogs are creatures of habit and thrive on a schedule. Feed your dog two meals a day, morning and evening, and as much as possible with your busy routine try to keep to that schedule. This will help your dog develop an anticipation for his meals. Do not free-feed, leaving food out all day.
We too need to eat on a routine schedule. Just as important as feeding ourselves physically, is providing opportunities and building into our routine the opportunity to feed ourselves spiritually.
Cut Back on Treats
If your dog is not eating his meals well, for the time being, at least until your dog is a better eater, severely cut back (or even eliminate) treats. Don’t give him anything that could take the edge of his appetite. If you’re training your dog and using treats for training, use his food as training treats.
Not much to say here. Everything in moderation is what my wife always tells me. If we have a treat all the time then it is no longer a treat.
Warm Foods Smell Better
Your dog’s sense of smell is more important to him that his sense of taste. Therefore, provide food that is warm as it will smell better. Add some warm water or warm some of the ingredients or pop it in the microwave for a few seconds. It shouldn’t be hot just warm.
While I am not going to suggest we do the same thing with human food, although some things do taste better warm, I am going to suggest you pay attention to the response of your body, mind, and spirit to the food before. As my grandmother would say, “If it does not smell or taste good, don’t eat it.” If someone presents you with some spiritual food that does not feel right to you, do not internalize it.
Feed the Best Foods You Can
Feed a dog food with quality meats, good vegetables, and fruits from known sources. Dogs are more apt to eat foods that smell like known good foods. Plus, it’s fine to vary the foods you feed. For example my dogs usually eat The Honest Kitchen’s Zeal but every once in a while I’ll get a box of Thrive or Keen as a change. This not only varies your dog’s nutrition but also keeps him interested in his food.
Many people have become adjusted to eating less than the best when it comes to food. We can see how much of the grocery store is committed to selling processed products. Many now classify their cooking styles as Chef Boyardee (canned), Marie Calendar (frozen), Wendy’s (fast food), etc. The same is true spiritually. If it is not the best, we must question why we are continuing to eat it. Just because it is what we grew up does not mean we must continue to eat it.
Hand Feeding is Fine
While you’re implementing these changes, hand feed your dog. In years past, this was discouraged; common wisdom said you would spoil your dog if you did this. Most trainers and behaviorists today don’t agree. Go ahead and hand feed your dog. Not only will he be more likely to eat but the fact that you are giving him good food by hand will be good for your relationship with your dog. It’s great; give it a try.
If you implement a few of these tips and your dog still isn’t eager about eating, call your veterinarian and bring your dog in for an examination. Rule out any potential physical problems. If your dog has a clean bill of health but just isn’t a big eater, then relax. After all, your biggest concern is that he’s healthy.
Serving others is a way of connecting with those you love and also with the Divine. In this story about a conversation between Ram Das and one of his teachers, it is written:
Ram Das: How will I know God?
Teacher: Feed people.
Ram Das: How will I become enlightened?
Teacher: Serve them.
No we are not dogs, but we can learn how to become more enthusiastic in our own lives from these tips as well.