Crazy dog, crazy dog, why are you barking...
July 24, 2007 5:04 AM   Subscribe

Any ideas why my dog won't eat out of his food bowl any longer?

We recently switched our dog to a higher-grade dry dog food (canidae, if it matters), and shortly thereafter he started exhibiting a very strange behavior. He will stand there and bark at the food bowl, but will not eat out of it. We have tried all sorts of different receptacles, such as other bowls, plates, paper plates... you name it, but he simply won't eat out of the receptacle. But if you put the food directly on the floor, he eats right away.

Oddly, he'll still eat other stuff out of his food bowl-- vegetables, snacks, etc.

Any ideas? For obvious reasons, we'd prefer that he not eat off the floor.
posted by miss tea to Pets & Animals (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Maybe he doesn't like the food and is complaining?

I know my dog will eat food that she doesn't really like off the floor but not out of her bowl. I think she thinks she's getting away with something.
posted by zixyer at 5:20 AM on July 24, 2007

You might withhold food for about 12 hours and then offer him a small serving in a receptacle. The new food may fill him up more than the old (I find this is true with most high-end dog foods), and when you put down more he doesn't want to eat but They will come eat it if he doesn't, especially if it's on the floor. The barking may be to keep Them away.

It's equally likely that he doesn't like it (or doesn't like change), and the behavior you see is still Them-motivated. Offer small servings dressed with plain lowfat yogurt and see if he comes around.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:35 AM on July 24, 2007

Throw a tablespoon or so of plain yogurt on top of it.

We're quite dedicated to our dogs eating at certain times so that their BM schedule is always the same, and that's what we do if they hit a period when they are reluctant to eat.
posted by MasonDixon at 6:13 AM on July 24, 2007

is it somehow pressing his muzzle against the new biscuits in a way that hurts him? and on the floor, he's got more control?

maybe the newer biscuits are harder to chew and have caused him some kind of lip/jaw trauma. just a thought.
posted by taff at 6:21 AM on July 24, 2007

What is the bowl made of and how often is it cleaned? Bowls made of ceramic or plastic can absorb odors (and the less-processed foods with better ingredients and more meat, like Canidae, seem to give off more absorbable oils and odors than crap foods), and many dogs simply reach a point where they find the smell so offputting that they can't eat from the bowl.

Before you go trying to remedy this with retraining his eating habits, I'd change to a stainless steel bowl and/or make sure it's clean. If you already use stainless steel bowls I would start looking at the mechanics here - since he happily eats the food (which is a great food) from other containers, and he happily eats OTHER foods from the bowl, it may be something as simple as the kibble shapes making it uncomfortable for him to get at the food (in which case soaking the food in some water or adding some yoghurt as MasonDixon suggests might make it easier for him to eat - but Canidae kibbles are pretty standard-sized as compared to other kibbles, so...). Also, try moving the bowl to a new location and see if that makes a difference.
posted by biscotti at 6:29 AM on July 24, 2007

I think Lyn Never is closest here... he doesn't really want the food, but he certainly doesn't want another entity (even imagined) to get it.

So, in the bowl, he turns up his nose, but on the floor, he feels compelled to eat it before "they" show up.

However, refusing even to eat it off a paper plate? My, that's incredibly high sensitivity there, as a paper plate is flat, so that should alleviate any muzzle issues or odor or anything else for that matter.

However, the barking is quite interesting, and it does appear he is "complaining" about it. "Hey! You, food! Get out of that bowl! Let me eat you!"

Interesting question.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:05 AM on July 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

At some point my dog would no longer eat her food. Someone suggested pouring water in the dry food to make it like a cereal. I don't know why but it worked and now she doesn't eat her dry food unless there is water in it.

I also know a pet owner who for stupid human reasons decided that his dog needed "dog gravy" Well his dog liked it so much that he refused to eat the dry food when the gravy ran out. Now he is forever stuck buying "dog gravy"

Maybe try the water. It couldn't hurt and it's cheaper than "dog gravy"
posted by comatose at 9:48 AM on July 24, 2007

I've also heard that when you are switching to new food, it's a good idea to mix the new food with the old food for a week or so to acclimatize the dog to the new food. Second zixyer's notion about the getting away with something for why he eats it off the floor.
posted by leahwrenn at 2:20 PM on July 24, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks, all. I do think he likes the food. But I think the kibble size issue might make sense-- the previous food was much larger kibble.

My husband fed him and then left the house today, and said when he came back in the food was gone. Not sure what that signifies!
posted by miss tea at 2:47 PM on July 24, 2007

okay, i have a dog whom i love to death so i am not being unsympathetic when i say…your dog is a a dog. do not coddle him about the food thing. he's trying to be the boss here when…you should be the boss, always. mine went through this once before. refused to eat his food unless i was feeding it to him by hand. i let this happen a couple of times to make sure there weren't any other issues going on and until i figured out what was going on. then i refused to do it. left the food in the bowl. when he got uppity and refused to eat, i just took the bowl of food away; brought it back at the next feeding and left it, then took it away when he refused to eat again. happened about twice where he went without eating and then at the next feeding time, he scarfed his food down and he's been eating out of the bowl since.
posted by violetk at 5:24 PM on July 24, 2007

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