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My boyfriend and I got our rescue dog back in October. He has been in charge of feeding her breakfast ever since then because I would normally be working, and then I would typically feed her dinner. She recently was sick and lost her appetite, found out she had some worms and also extra bacteria in her stomach. She gained her appetite back after being treated with antibiotics and dewormers. However, this past week, she has been refusing to eat breakfast for my boyfriend. I also just started a new job with more hours last week as well - i used to come in and out of the house a few times each day, now i'm gone for the entire 8:30am-6:00pm slot. (coincidence? or related?). I fed her breakfast with no problem on Sunday and Monday (yesterday). Today, she refused to eat or drink anything until I came home from work. What can I do to make her more comfortable eating for my boyfriend again??? I asked if he got upset with her or anything when she was sick and wouldn't eat, but he denies it. Also worth noting, she was absolutely terrified of my boyfriend when we first adopted her as well... But after a few weeks, they were best friends. Is she on a hunger strike because of my new work schedule??? Or has her fear of him come back?? or is she still sick and needs to go back to the vet???? Help! I worry that she will lose weight or become malnourished! :confused:
 

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The reason punishment is such a bad idea with dogs is that they are hard wired to associate bad things- pain, feeling sick, feeling afraid- without whatever or whomever is near them when those bad things happen. If she got sick or felt sick when your bf fed her, she may now associate your bf with those sick feelings. It's not his fault, but she's a dog, she doesn't know any better.

The treatment for this is fairly easy. First, don't have him do anything negative to the dog- he doesn't do anything to her she doesn't like, that's all your responsibility for the duration. Every interaction he has with her needs to be positive and low stress.

Second, he can't push anything. I know it's frustrating and hurtful, but he needs to let her come to him. The more he pushes, the more stressed she'll get, the worse this will get. So he can just toss a very high value treat in her direction and then let her decide what to do. She needs to feel in control. That also means that if she shows signs of stress- lip licking, pinning ears back, averting eyes ("whale eye"), yawning- he needs to immediately back off. If she growls, he needs to stop whatever he is doing immediately.

Then just keep up with tossing high value treats and whatever else first made her comfortable with him. Give her time.
 
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