My 9+ year old Lab/Shepherd mix is just not into food. We adopted him at 9 years old so I have no idea what he was like before - except really fat. Which was either from poor diet or low activity, or both. But now, 8 months later he is super trim and fit! But we struggle on the food front. I have had him try at least 10 different brands/flavors. He's just not a food hound like other dogs I know. Even if there's cat food or human food out, he won't touch it. (though he is very cookie motivated when we do tricks/training).
The frustrating/annoying/weird part is he will eat food out of the grass that he refused before, or he will eat it if I hand feed it (ugh), or he will eat it in the back seat of the car when we are driving home from the pet store with new flavors. But when I get it in a bowl he says, "meh". I have tried stainless steel, plastic, another plastic, ceramic, glass, wood, and paper. Deep, shallow, small, and big. I've tried the floor, a plate (paper and Fine China!), and his bed. He will eat sometimes and then not all the time. So I basically just leave his daily ration in a bowl and when he wants he eats. I have tried schedules and taking the food away when he doesn't eat after 15 minutes, and offering it again...no success.
My problem is I don't want him to starve to death. He's 85lbs and a big boy, even now being trim and fit! So I feed him about 4 cups a day to hit ~1200 calories (I'm not even sure if that's enough or right so please let me know if you have an opinion on that). We are not as active as we used to be (short walks twice a day, and a longer walk 3-4x a week because of his arthritis and lameness on his front right).
So my question: do you think I should just continue to leave it out for him and let him figure it out?
Also, if you have a grain free, high calorie dry food that you like let me know.
First - ensure it's nothing medical. Have him in to the vet and really look at his mouth/teeth to see if anything may be making it harder for him to eat. Once it's confirmed it's not medical….
is he getting any special treat of food if he skips a meal?
does he eat a food at first and stop or just not eating?
how long have you played hard ball? Meaning, you said you would remove is food if he didn't eat until next meal. How many days did you try this?
have you tried softening the food by letting it soak a few minutes before feeding?
I had him in recently for a checkup and his teeth were fine. He also has no problem chewing his bones or chew toys, or the food I just dumped over the fence. -_-
I played hardball for 5 days. Broke over the weekend because I was frustrated/worried with him not eating. He gets treats when we work on behavioral things like our sit/stay and paw cleaning, but they are very small. But if he doesn't eat his dinner I don't give him cookies.
I have tried soaking his food in water, broth, and gravy (he likes the gravy, naturally). Some weeks are better than others. He will eat the food I leave out. Then get bored of it or whatever. So basically I think he's a big jerk at this point. When he does eat the dry food I reward him with "good boys" and scratches so hopefully that helps, too.