Dogs love to be surrounded by people and enjoy the attention of their favorite person. Their habit of being an active social butterfly becomes a matter of concern for the pet parents when their pets refuse to eat when someone is not around.
Many dogs lose their appetite when the atmosphere surrounding their feeding time is unsuitable. It makes the pet owners wonder, “why does my dog only eat when I’m around” and what they should do to make things right.
It is typical behavior but can be dangerous for your dog’s health. A nourishing diet is a must to maintain good health and well-being. However, comprehending why your dog doesn’t eat without you must help you change this habit.
This blog will discuss the common reasons and possible solutions to help you overcome this issue and make your pup an independent eater.
Why Does My Dog Only Eat When I’m Around: Possible Reasons
There can be a few possibilities as to why your dog only eats when you sit next to him. Some of those can be:
1. Your Dog May Be Stressed Out Or Anxious:
Anxiety and stress are also common in dogs. If your dog gets too nervous when you leave them, this nervousness can kill their appetite entirely. Dogs with separation anxiety often show destructive behavior like barking, howling, chewing things, or trying to run away. In case of anxiety, dogs even stop taking treats or chewing bones.
It can be any fear or stressor that can make your dog anxious when you are not around. It can be the loud noises from nearby construction or unfamiliar people in the house.
If your dog has anxiety issues, medications can make them feel relaxed. Try to find the cause or visit your vet for a consultation.
2. Your Dog Might Prefer To Eat with Someone:
Dogs are social beings that love to eat in groups or be in your company when you are home. They are intuitive to eating with other dogs or individuals with whom they are comfortable. Many dogs consider meals more fun with others, which motivates them to eat more.
Some owners develop their relationship with their beloved pets around food only. For instance, your dog had significant gastrointestinal upset and lost its appetite. You used to play with food choices and offer verbal encouragement to motivate them to eat. It developed the habit of eating and feeling more rewarded when the owner is around.
Next time you are home, give your dog its meal, avoid the verbal praises, and do not watch their every bite fondly. Hopefully, your precious little friend will gain confidence and continue eating independently.
3. Your Dog Is Busy Protecting The House:
If your dog doesn’t touch their food when you are not at home, this may be because they take it upon itself to guard the house in your absence. They feel it’s their responsibility to protect the house, especially when no one is around.
When you return home, they relax and finish the food in a second because earlier, they were busy concentrating on guarding the house. Some dogs are known to be so vigilant that they stay by the door until their owner returns.
So, if you plan to leave your dog alone at home, try to keep its atmosphere safe. Shut down all the windows, turn on music or keep their beloved plaything with them.
4. Your Dog Might Not Be Hungry:
The most rational explanation for why your dogs are not eating their food is because they had their snacks just recently, or they might have a stomach ache, GI distress, or just because they are not hungry. It means they will not eat their meal irrespective of your presence.
To motivate them to eat, you can spice up their meals or change their food because dogs can quickly lose interest if served the same meal daily. A new meal might happily motivate your dog to eat without your presence.
You must ensure that your puppy gets all the vital nutrients, vitamins, and amino acids in their diet.
5. Your Dog Is Not Feeling Well:
At times, your little puppy refrains from eating because of an underlying medical condition. If your dog has stopped eating its meals properly, it is best to consult your vet. It is a matter of urgent concern as it can affect your dog’s health in the long run.
Helpful Strategies To Make Your Dog Eat When You Are Away?
To help you teach your dog to eat alone, you need to take baby steps until your dog becomes more confident and comfortable. Depending on your particular case, building this habit of eating alone can take days to years.
To help your dog overcome eating anxiety, we recommend you the following strategies:
- Try to build your dog’s confidence. When you are at home, and strange noise happens, try to act normally and avoid noticing your dog. Even when unexpected visitors drop by, stay composed and act naturally.
- Train your dog to complete his meal when you are away. Place a protective baby gate where they eat their meals. Get behind it and offer them to eat. Initially, your dog will eat as you are just near. Gradually increase your distance from them until you are out of their sight.
- Play with your little friend by throwing rewards from far away. You can even get out of sight in the process. It will enable them to believe that nice things can occur even without your presence.
- Making your dog exercise before leaving the house is an excellent way to make them feel tired and eventually sleep. However, it is the least you can do, especially if your furry friend experiences separation anxiety.
- Make your home feel safe even in your absence. Cover unexpected unpleasant noises with soft music or leave the TV turned on. Close the doors and windows to cover any loud noises from outside. Put window covers or buy a nest bed for your dog to hide in when they are afraid.
- You can leave a long voice recording to make your pet feel like you are with them.
The Reason Why Your Dog Prefers Hand-Feeding Only
Another problem most dog owners report is that their dog demands eating from their owner’s hand. You might be very excited to get your dog in the initial days, but now it’s becoming a habit.
Unfortunately, when dogs become accustomed to such habits, it is relatively challenging to modify them. Some of the reasons why your dog has developed this habit are:
Dogs feel overly protective of their food. Your dog can have a hard time eating from its bowl if, in the past, they had to fight over food with other dogs (if your dog was a stray or neglected previously). Eating from an open bowl makes them feel exposed and at risk of attack, whereas they will feel comfortable eating from the palm of your hand as they trust you.
Getting Accustomed To It:
Many dog owners unknowingly make a habit of hand-feeding their pets. Although hand-feeding has no significant issues, you will run into a problem when you have to leave your dog alone. It is best to train your dog to eat from his bowl instead of only depending on hand-feeding.
You can start by cutting out one hand-feeding and switching it to the food bowl. As the dog gets used to it, drop another hand-feed and change it with the bowl-feeding. Eventually, your dog will be independent to eat on their own.
Check With Your Vet
If known of the above reasons seems to fit your dog’s situation, then there could be something else going on. Your dog can either have a medical condition or an underlying problem you are unaware of. The best solution is to schedule a vet appointment and get your dog checked by a professional.
Many of our cutest little friends love to enjoy their meals with your company only, whereas some of them are entirely comfortable eating on their own if your dog demands your attention or presence while eating.
If you want to avoid such inconveniences, try to train your dog to be independent from a very young age. Use positive reinforcement and be extremely patient with your buddy. If the situation persists, take your vet’s consultation to play it safe and sound.