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I have an 8 year old Shih Tau that i have been free feeding since he was a puppy and because of that he is a terrible eater. I leave a bowl of good quality dry food out all the time but all he eats are the treats I also leave out (chicken Jerky and dried sweet potato with chicken jerky wrapped around it). I also cook chicken for him but in the past month or so he has completely stopped eating the fresh chicken.
Now that i have create this monster what do i do? Do I do the tough love, pick up everything and put the dry food down twice a day for 15 minutes and pray he doesn't starve himself? I am hoping someone has a suggestion besides or in addition to the tough love, i need to fix this but i'm weak when it comes to my baby. HELP!
 

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Now that i have create this monster what do i do? Do I do the tough love, pick up everything and put the dry food down twice a day for 15 minutes and pray he doesn't starve himself? I am hoping someone has a suggestion besides or in addition to the tough love, i need to fix this but i'm weak when it comes to my baby. HELP!
Maybe he is meat intolerant. When they are the meat gives them a stomach ache so they don't want to eat it. I would try a meat he has never eaten and see if its the meat. You might want to limit the treats also. Try a food with limited ingredients like Zignature or Go sensitive and shine. If you can get samples it would be great then you could try a few different meats and see if he likes one better the the others.
 

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I kinda free feed too..........except that in the A.M. my girl gets a portion of either raw, dehydrated raw, or canned (3 ozs raw, or 1/4 cup canned) and then I leave a 1/4 cup of kibble in her bowl. Somedays she never even touches her kibble but I never worry about it cuz I know she won't starve! She has always been a 'grazer' and has maintained her weight.

So don't worry........if he gets hungry he'll eat! Of course if you think he gets bored with his kibble you can always rotate flavors within the brand you are feeding, but don't get carried away with it or you will have a picky eater on your hands.........besides, if you are feeding a good quality kibble it should be enough for him nutritionally even without the extra goodies you are giving! Just leave the kibble out and nothing else and see if he eats it..............
 

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I have an 8 year old Shih Tau that i have been free feeding since he was a puppy and because of that he is a terrible eater. I leave a bowl of good quality dry food out all the time but all he eats are the treats I also leave out (chicken Jerky and dried sweet potato with chicken jerky wrapped around it). I also cook chicken for him but in the past month or so he has completely stopped eating the fresh chicken.
Now that i have create this monster what do i do? Do I do the tough love, pick up everything and put the dry food down twice a day for 15 minutes and pray he doesn't starve himself? I am hoping someone has a suggestion besides or in addition to the tough love, i need to fix this but i'm weak when it comes to my baby. HELP!
Free feeding tends to be a cause of pickiness, because they don't have a set schedule for a feeding time. Not always, but it can contribute for sure. Then, all the "sugar coating" begging them to eat makes it hard too. Then they don't want to go back to eating normal food again either. I would do the tough love route. As long there is nothing medically wrong, a healthy dog will always eat. They won't starve themselves, and YOU aren't starving them either because you are offering the food, he is the one choosing not to eat. I've done this in my house plenty. They eat at meal time, or they wait until the next meal.
 

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As long there is nothing medically wrong, a healthy dog will always eat. They won't starve themselves, and YOU aren't starving them either because you are offering the food, he is the one choosing not to eat. I've done this in my house plenty. They eat at meal time, or they wait until the next meal.
Well said.
 

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First take him to the vet and make sure nothing is going on that is making him lose his appetite.

Once you know the problem is not medical, cut out the treats, most of those treats are pretty high calorie and small dogs fill up on them fast. I learned that the hard way with my boy, he's only 11.4 lbs and was gaining weight due to treats. I now buy him treats that are no more then 4 cal each and never give him more then 14 cal worth of them per day.

Next decide if you want to let him graze throughout the day or eat at set meal times. I've fed both ways depending on how many dogs I have and how fast the dog eats. When I had 2 dogs we had set meal times to cut down on fighting over foods. When I had my elderly dog he was free fed, food was put in the bowl twice a day and he was free to either eat it right away or graze on it. Now that I have Zody I feed him 2x a day with a little food being withheld to feed him before bed. He's not free fed simply because he's a pig and eats it as soon as I give it to him.

Any way you go I recommend measuring out the food, that way you know how much food he's actually eating. Zody gets a little less then 1/2 cup of kibble a day and 1 teaspoon of wet food along with the 12 to 14 cal worth of treats.

If you want to free feed then just put the food down at set times and leave it there for him to eat. You can decide if you want to put it out all at once in the morning, or portion it out and refill the bowl 2 or 3 times a day.

If you want scheduled mealtimes then you'd put some down in the morning, give him 15 to 20 min to eat, then pick it back up and he gets no more food or treats till the next mealtime where you'd put the food back down for 15 to 20 minutes.

Again, cut out all treats until you get him eating his kibble again. If you don't do that he will hold out for the treats.
 
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Your dog wont starve to death, tough love is good here.

Our minpin was free fed kibble for the first 2 years, always had food out for him and he never overate. Too many treats as well. 2 years ago we switched him up to full raw which meant 2 meals a day, no more free feeding and it was an easy transition.

Fast forward to today, he's a bit of a picky eater now that we started feeding cooked, he lets us know what he wants. Sometimes he wants raw, other times cooked. It's quick for us to switch.
 
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