To eat or not to eat....

Posted by callellen
Aug 4, 2008
My rescued dog Frank has several behavior issues I am working through. One is baffling me. When I ask if he and his sister, another rescue, want their meals, they both are excited. Frank (Tibetan Terrier) then goes to the farthest side of the next room, and I have to literally coax him to come in and eat... Sometimes he just refuses. (By the way... the food is home cooked ground turkey, and beans and/or high grade kibble due to the huge allergies of my other dog... so it's good food, ad he does like it) At first I thought it was his way of submitting to my female dog who is the alpha, but he won't even come in without coaxing even when she is done. There seems to be some fear wrapped up in this if I am reading his body language right... any ideas? Ellen
Posted by KOPsRobyn
Jan 23, 2010
Hi Ellen

It is often hard to ascertain the reasoning behind behavioral issues of rescue dogs, due to not knowing their previous history and experiences. It is possible that Frank may have had a bad experience in the past when he was being fed and so is now fearful of it. It is important that you don’t encourage this behavior though, so that he realizes that there is nothing to be afraid of when being fed. Put down the food for them in separate areas initially, as it may be possible that he is feeling intimidated by her. Don’t coax him to eat the food though, instead point him towards it and leave it there for 20 minutes. If he hasn’t finished it by then, remove the food bowl. Do the same at each meal time and he will soon realize that if he doesn’t eat his food straight away he will be going hungry. The most important thing is not to fuss around him if he isn't eating. By patting him and telling him ‘it’s alright’, you are portraying the message that it is good to be nervous around mealtime. Also you are giving him lots of attention, which he really wants, so he has learnt to behave like this during meals to gain your attention. You will need to teach him that you will only pay attention and play with him if he is being confident. By doing this, you are not only showing him that nervous behavior will get him nothing he wants, you are also giving him an incentive to work towards.

I hope this helps and all the best with the training!
Posted by kjd
Jan 23, 2010

A possibility is he had a bad experience in the type of room you are feeding him in. Try putting his food in another room and see if he is more willing to eat it. It is hard to enjoy your food when you are afraid something bad will happen.

Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Jan 23, 2010
Hi Ellen,

You must have Frank almost one and a half year by now. That means you have been feeding him that way all that time, or did this behavior just start recently? I would like to know about the background.

If you have been coaxing him for the last year and a half, it might have become like a feeding time ritual.

If it started recently, there should be a reason.

Let us know how it started.

Also, compared to when you first adopted Frank, has he gained some confidence and is not as fearful as he used to be?