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If you don't have time to read the rest, here's a quick summary: My dog wouldn't eat the kibble he's been eating his whole life, I tried every trick I could think of and it still doesn't help. It's been stressing me out, please advise!

I have a one-year-old German Shepherd. I've been feeding him twice a day with kibbles ever since he was 4 months old. Here's when I think everything started going downhill...

Stupid me left for work with my dog inside the house, his food out in the backyard, and the doggy door closed. I came home and started freaking out because I pretty much just starved him. I went outside with him, thinking he was so hungry he'd chow down the food like he would every meal. But not this time, he wouldn't eat and I was freaking out thinking he got so hungry to the point that he lost his mind or something crazy. Then I remembered the fish oil supplement for dogs that I had left in the closet, so I drizzled some into the food. He'd eat the top part and left the food bowl. I was afraid he was still starving, so I kept drizzling more and more fish oil until he finished his portion.

I think this is when he figured out that I would bribe him with something tasty if he wouldn't eat?! I stopped using the fish oil supplement a long time ago when we switched to feeding him salmon kibble, so of course bringing that back was a treat for him. He kept showing the same behavior over the next few days, not running to his food as soon as I signal "go" like he has always been all his life. Every single I got worried and drizzled some more fish oil to get him to eat. One time I tried to stop doing that and left him out in the snow for an hour (it was fresh snow, he wasn't freezing I promise), and he'd still just wandering around the yard instead of eating. I read somewhere to just skip his meal so that he'll eventually learn to eat when food is served, which I did and felt so so so terribly that night.

The next morning I served his food before getting ready for the day. But an hour later, I opened the bathroom door and he was laying right there in front of the door waiting for me. He had to go to daycare and I wanted him to have the energy to play, so I stood next to him by the food bowl and hand-fed him until he started eating by himself and eventually finished the food. After daycare, he ate his food just fine, and I figured either he learned his lesson (that food untouched will be taken away after a certain time) or he was just too hungry from all the playing that he'd eat anything. I stopped worrying momentarily because he was voluntarily eating again.

The next few mornings I left him out in the yard with his food in the morning, and I would come out to see him waiting by the doggy door waiting to be let in, food untouched. I thought it was separation anxiety, but I went out and stood next to him and he still wouldn't eat. I tried hand-feeding him again and he wouldn't even open his mouth. I ran out of fish oil so I used pumpkin puree instead, at least it was cheap and still good for him. That worked for a few days, and now even that doesn't help anymore.

To add, we tried different kibble flavors when he was a baby and this was the one he liked the best so we stuck with it. We did try changing flavor during this period of time and it didn't help either. He is still playful, still running super fast after the ball when we play fetch. He still sniffs around for food in the kitchen and gets excited with treats when we do training. He just doesn't eat when it's meal time and I'm stressing out. Please please please help or share your experience if your dog was once this way! I don't know what to do and I don't want him to starve...

Thank you!
 

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A few thoughts. If he doesn't eat for a couple of meals he'll be fine trust me. Unless there is a health issue which it doesn't sound like there is he is playing you for extras and your attention. It is truly rare for a healthy dog to starve themselves.
He may just not want as much food you are feeding. I know it's preferred that kibble fed dogs are fed 2-3 smaller meals opposed one large meal to avoid bloat risk. But, there are some dogs that prefer to eat once a day.

Here's the big one. Your stress over the food and him eating is likely stressing him out. Dogs can smell human stress hormones. Give him his food, walk away. I he eats great. If he doesn't pick it up and go on with your normal schedule. Offer the food at the next meal and walk away. No fussing, no topper, no pleading to eat...just leave him to eat. If he doesn't eat in 30 minutes or so pick up the food and skip the meal. Rinse and repeat. Chances are good by day 3 your dog will be eating.
That said if there is any possibility the food or oils in the food have gone rancid it's likely your dog knows and could be trying to tell you the food is yucky. So you might want to start with a fresh bag of food.
Meal time shouldn't be a stressful time for your dog or you. Try to relax and see what happens. I wouldn't be concerned unless there are signs of illness or if there is significant weight loss and it goes on for more than 4 days.
 

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I agree that if you have a healthy dog and they miss a day of eating it's no big deal. You need to RELAX your dog will pick up on your stress. How does his potty look? Is he drinking water? Take him out for a run/walk and make sure he is acting ok.
 
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