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Nutrition is probably my weak point when it comes to dogs. I have my adult female on a high quality grain free kibble and use a few tablespoons of wet food to encourage her to eat. She just doesn't like food much. I've tried a few different brands and the most she ever eats is about 1.5 cups per day. So, I am trying to restrict how long she has access to the food and cut out any treats in the house.

The thing is, I don't think I can train her without treats. She is a very soft dog and I have to keep things very positive or she gets miserable. She learns VERY quickly with high value treats like ham, but health has to come first. I need to find some kind of treat for training that will help her meet her caloric and nutrient needs for the day without causing any problems used long-term. She is losing weight and is a very active dog.

I can't use her kibble. Tried that today and she literally clamped her mouth shut and turned away.


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My boy is also very picky when it comes to food/treats. One thing I've found that he really likes is freeze-dried meat. I believe Petco has a brand called Pure Bites, but you can also order a different brand online called Whole Life. Basically, they are just dehydrated pieces of meat. That's what we use for tracking because it doesn't really have much of a smell (I don't want him just sniffing out the treats), along with training because it's just meat, so it's not loaded with fat, salt, sugar, etc. I would recommend trying those! Or, we will also use different kinds of food rolls cut up into little pieces. Natural Balance makes some. They look like summer sausages. :)
 

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Also, does she seem to like the wet food more than the dry kibble? Because one thing I had to do was increase the ratio of wet food to dry food. My dog won't eat plain kibble.. So I had to mix in wet. And I've found that just by upping the ratio to 75% dry, 25% wet, just that extra wet ratio has made it more appealing to him, and now he gobbles it right up. So if you notice that your girls actually likes the wet food, maybe instead of adding just a couple of tablespoons, you can up the ratio a bit.
 

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Go for high odor, high value. In order of my preference:

1. Natural Balance log (a sample size is about $2 at Petco, but not PetSmart--usually sold on a display that looks like a coat-stand, or an endcap). Get the lamb (purple), not the turkey (yellow), as it's smellier and seems to be more attractive to more dogs. If the sample size is attractive to your dog, then go back to buy a big package -- slice and dice it up as needed and store in the fridge.

This is my treat of choice. It's so attractive to most dogs that I use it to coax the anorexic sick ones at the shelter where I volunteer to eat. I also use it there to befriend withdrawn, shut down dogs.

2. Freeze dried liver (about $10/container), but not all dogs like it. The ones that like it really seem to enjoy it, though. You could also just cook a few chicken or beef livers and cut them up into tiny bits -- it's very smelly, so it is likely to be attractive.

3. Soft, squishy brands of treats: Yumzees and the like (lots of options out there, but it's less cost effective than the Natural Balance log).

4. Biljac frozen food, thawed (it comes in squishy pellets--I like to use them to hide pills with fussy dogs, as the dogs go nuts for it). I found it for sale recently at Albertsons in the frozen food section, and it was the first time I've noticed it there. The bag is huge, so I separated it into one-quart small freezer bags and refroze it, so that I could keep one small bag at a time thawed in the fridge. It's a little messy though.

5. All natural, all-beef hot dogs. I am not a fan because of the sodium, but my trainer swears by them. He cuts them up into tiny little bits to give them as training treats, so they aren't getting much in each training session.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Go for high odor, high value. In order of my preference:

1. Natural Balance log (a sample size is about $2 at Petco, but not PetSmart--usually sold on a display that looks like a coat-stand, or an endcap). Get the lamb (purple), not the turkey (yellow), as it's smellier and seems to be more attractive to more dogs. If the sample size is attractive to your dog, then go back to buy a big package -- slice and dice it up as needed and store in the fridge.

This is my treat of choice. It's so attractive to most dogs that I use it to coax the anorexic sick ones at the shelter where I volunteer to eat. I also use it there to befriend withdrawn, shut down dogs.
I'm glad you and another poster think Natural Balance is a good choice. I've been using it and I love how it smells and how well it keeps, plus it seems to have decent ingredients. I use the lamb and beef logs. Dog doesn't go nuts over it but at least she consistently likes it.

So, if she's eating about 1.5 cups of kibble mixed with wet food and getting Natural Balance + freeze dried meat as training snacks, she should be okay nutrition-wise? Sorry for all the questions but my vet hasn't been very helpful with this. I appreciate the advice!




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The key question is this: is she holding her weight on 1.5 cups? That will tell you if it's enough or not.

It really depends on the kibble, the size of the dog, age, and her activity. I think that 1.5 c. per day sounds like too little for an active, adult GSD in her prime (even my least active dog, an 80# senior, gets about 2.5 c. of Fromm 4-Star, which is an excellent kibble; my 45# mix is the smallest dog in the house, and she's also getting over 3 c., but she's young and frisky).

The NB log and freeze-dried liver are both nutritionally dense. At least you'll be giving her something that's providing worthwhile nourishment, as training treats. The liver is especially good, since it's a valuable organ meat, which few kibbles include.

Does exercise increase her appetite? It does for mine, so I wonder if taking her out for a morning jog about an hour before breakfast might help stimulate her appetite.

I also agree about using more wet food, if it gets her interested.
 

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She is not holding her weight, which worries me. However, I have never been able to get her to eat more than 1.5-2 cups in one day no matter what I put on it or how much exercise she gets. Usually I offer food at breakfast and dinner after a long walk/jog, but end up throwing most of it out. Maybe I should try something like tripe? Mix grated NB with her kibble?

She usually goes for a run in the morning and two other walks, and we go hiking in the mountains every weekend. You would think she would be starving after this but it's hit or miss. My thought was that since she always eats well during training, maybe I could get more calories in her that way.


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