Some dogs will eat nearly anything. They are constantly ready for food, including treats. You give your dog a treat, expecting them to woof it down enthusiastically. You are surprised when they show no interest in it. What’s going on?
Why won’t my dog eat treats?
It can be confusing when your dog won’t eat treats. It’s like a child turning down candy. How could they not want it? It’s disappointing, because you want to spoil them a bit. It also makes training more difficult.
They Don’t Like the Treat
Dogs can be discerning, and even picky. It’s possible that your dog likes treats, they simply don’t like the type of treat you are offering. It could be the texture, the smell, or the taste of the treat that’s putting them off.
It’s also possible that they simply aren’t familiar with it. Some dogs are like humans, and are reluctant to try unfamiliar foods.
Stress can also cause your pooch to turn down treats. If this is the case, you may see them avoid their food as well. They may have a reduced appetite due to stress or anxiety.
Signs of stress in dogs include pacing, excessive barking or whining, drooling, and obsessive licking. They may become depressed or withdrawn. Housetraining accidents can also be caused by stress.
Illness can also cause your dog to not want treats. Just like stress, this will likely cause them to eat less of their food as well.
Signs of illness include fever, lethargy, vomiting, or diarrhea. Excessive thirst or urination, or difficulty urinating are also signals that something is wrong.
Stomach is Full
Some dogs will eat as much as you will put in front of them. Others will only eat until they are full. If you offer them more food or treats, they will turn it down because they aren’t hungry.
Most dogs won’t turn down a treat, even if they have eaten recently. However, some dogs are not interested in any type of food if they aren’t hungry.
Your pooch may not be interested in treats due to a negative association. Do you give your pooch treats just for fun, or do they only get a treat after a negative experience?
Treats are meant to be a means of creating positive association, because receiving a treat should be a positive experience. When there’s a negative experience with the treat, this can backfire, causing a negative association instead.
For example, your dog gets a shot, and then a treat. You mean well, hoping that the treat will make the experience more positive. However, they can associate the treat with the shot. This can lead them to avoid the treat, thinking a shot will accompany it each time.
A more common example is bathtime. You give your dog a treat during or after their bath. They will then expect a bath along with the treat.
Your dog may also understand that a treat means you are training them to do something. Most dogs are happy with this arrangement, but rarely a dog will ignore the treat and the command.
If your pooch frequently gets human food, like steak or chicken, treats may not seem very appealing. Essentially, they become used to the rich taste and smell of our food, and a treat seems very low value to them.
What to do if my dog won’t eat treats?
If your dog won’t eat treats, there are some things you can do. What works will depend on why your pooch isn’t enjoying their treats.
Try Different Types of Treats
If you suspect your dog just doesn’t like the type of treat you are attempting to give them, there’s good news. There are several types of treats, and your dog will likely enjoy some of them.
Baked treats include both hard and soft baked treats. Those bone shaped doggie biscuits in your local supermarket are baked treats. Traditional baked treats are crunchy, and can be munched down fairly quickly.Soft baked treats are similar, but they are soft instead of being crispy.
Freeze Dried Treats
Freeze dried treats come in a wide variety of foods. Meat based treats can be made from chicken or beef. Chicken and beef liver are also popular freeze dried options. Other freeze dried treats include peanut butter and pumpkin.
Jerky treats are similar to the beef jerky made for humans. You should purchase jerky designed for dogs, because jerky for humans has spices and salt that can be harmful to dogs. Chicken and beef jerky are the most common.
Fresh treats are another option. These include fresh dog safe fruits and vegetables. You may be surprised to find these are treats, but try offering your pooch a piece of watermelon or pumpkin.
Raw or cooked pieces of meat are another option. Nearly all dogs will happily snap up a piece of boiled chicken, for example.
If your pooch is stressed, you’ll need to try to determine what’s causing it. Has there been changes to your household or schedule recently? These can include someone moving in or out or a change in your work schedule. Getting a new pet can also be stressful. Loud noises are another potential cause.
Once you know the problem, you can reduce or eliminate the source of stress. If you can’t manage the stress on your own, contact your vet or an animal behavioralist.
If you are concerned your pooch has an illness, you’ll need to get them to the vet. There are things you can do at home in the meantime, but these vary based on your dog’s symptoms.
Repairing negative associations takes time. First, you need to stop using treats with negative experiences. Use praise and a comforting voice instead.
Now, you’ll need to begin associating treats with positive experiences. Give them treats when they are having fun or doing something they enjoy.
You may find it helpful to stop using the treats you used with the negative experience completely. Find a new type of treat, and build positive associations with this. This method gives you a bit of a head start.
Remember, changing negative associations can take time. Be patient, and keep offering them treats when they are enjoying themselves.
Timing is Important
If your pooch turns down treats because they aren’t hungry, you may need to change when you give them a treat. If you typically give them treats soon after a meal, begin waiting a few hours between meals.
Accustomed to Human Treats
You can either feed them healthy human treats, like bits of boiled chicken. You can also stop feeding them human food completely, and hope they come around eventually.