Common Feeding Problems in Dogs and How to Solve Them

Whether it is a picky eater turning their nose up at dinner or a pup stealing food off the counter, feeding issues are frustrating for many dog owners. But do not worry, with some simple adjustments and consistency, most of these common eating behavior problems can be solved.

The Picky Eater Pooch

Some dogs are just plain finicky when it comes to their kibble. They may snub the food bowl one day only to devour the same dry dog food the next. This picky eating is often rooted in natural food motivations and skewed by allowing taste-testing of human foods.

For picky eaters, you may need to experiment with different high-quality dog food brands, flavors, or formulas until you find one that they go wild for. Varieties featuring freeze-dried meats or functional toppers can entice them. Just be sure to stick to complete and balanced recipes without a lot of added junk.

There is also specialized dry dog food for picky eaters from companies like Nextrition that are enhanced with appetizing aromas, fats, and proteins to spark their interest. Adding a spoonful of low-sodium broth or a sprinkle of fresh veggies can help as well. The key is not giving in to their finicky tendencies by offering an endless rotation of options.

The Insatiable Chow Hound

On the flip side, some dogs are the polar opposite, eating anything and everything in sight. Constant begging, counter-surfing for scraps, or devouring their food bowls in seconds can indicate food obsession or gluttony.

This problem often stems from inadvertent reinforcement of the behavior through free-feeding, irregular meal times, or allowing dogs to be around when humans eat. Feeding pets in a separate room away from the family is recommended.

For greedy gobbling, slow feeder bowls or cookie sheets can force them to eat slower. Providing daily food puzzles can satisfy their need to work for meals. But above all, proper portion control is key to prevent obesity from overindulging.

Dealing with “Allergies”

Just like humans, dogs can have food intolerances or allergies to certain ingredients found in pet food. Symptoms like chronic gas, diarrhea, vomiting, itchy skin, or ear infections may indicate a problem with beef, chicken, grains, or other components of their diet.

An elimination diet trial, where you feed a bland hypoallergenic food for 6-8 weeks, can help identify trigger ingredients. Hydrolyzed protein pet foods with broken-down molecules are less likely to provoke immune responses too. Collaborate closely with your vet on testing and switching to appropriate limited-ingredient recipes.

Devious Dinnertime Thievery

Let us not forget the clever pups who have mastered the art of food theft. These highly food-motivated dogs turn into furry felons, Houdini-ing their way to any unattended meals or treats they can snatch up.

Resolving this requires making human food completely inaccessible through the use of pet-proof containers, counters and tables. Feed dogs only in their designated areas and give them irresistible stuffed food puzzle toys to keep them happily occupied during your mealtimes. Training “leave it” and “place” commands also builds self-control.


As you can see, there are many potential causes and solutions for canine feeding issues. It may take some trial and error to pinpoint the root issue like boredom, poor food choices, or misbehavior rewarded by prior owners.

Working closely with your veterinarian and a certified dog trainer can help develop specific strategies for your own dog’s needs and challenges. With time and consistency on your new routines and rules around food, you will set your pup up for a lifetime of good eating habits.

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