Picky New Dog

Last week I adopted the cutest coonhound from a rural shelter. He is about 2 years old and was a true hunter. He is loving being a house dog and is perfect! However, I ma having trouble getting him to eat. He will not eat dry food unless it is mixed with canned food. There are times he just wont eat. He is not sick, just gets distracted and acts like it is no big deal if he eats or not.

When I got him, he had never eaten out of a bowl and we had to adjust to that. He does not care if my other dog comes along and steals the food. He does not care if I take it away. I have never had a hound that could care less about food! Does anyone have any tips? He is getting 4health Duck mixed with canned food and sometimes I even throw cheese in it if he is not very interested. He could care less about peanut butter(Is he even really a dog!?!)
Help! He need s to gain some weight!

Why not just give him canned until he settles in and then start adding the dry back? I would set food out for 15 minutes, put away any leftovers for a couple hours and repeat throughout the day until he realizes mealtime is for eating and gets in a routine. You could also try feeding a very small portion and adding more as he cleans it up over the course of an hour, then shutting down the kitchen until it’s time for dinner.

It might take a week to get him more focused but don’t give up. I’ve had some incredibly picky fosters that were used to free feeding and table scraps who figured out the new plan fairly quickly.


I’d absolutely get him on omeprazole or famotidine. Inappetence in small animals is often a sign that their belly hurts, and treating that greatly improves their willingness to eat, IME.


I have a VERY picky eater. He’s been that way since a puppy and is 12 years old now. (See my thumbnail.) The more he refuses food, the more upset his stomach becomes and creates a cycle that results in him vomiting bile and having gastric bleeding if I don’t intervene.

If he goes a full day without eating I give him half a Zantac.

He picks new ingredients to snub. Recently he has decided that he absolutely will not even entertain eating one kibble if it contains fish meal or fish oil. It is virtually impossible to find a high quality food that doesn’t contain a fish ingredient (Omega 3s.) Currently he is eating some bizzare lamb formula that contains alfalfa.

Anyway, my last resort is to put an ounce or two of milk over his dry food. Knock on wood, this works 100% of the time.

On one account I feel that I’m negotiating with a tiny terrorist, but the quicker I can catch the cycle the easier it is to quelch.

If you’re not wanting to feed canned food you can try to top dress the kibble with broth.

Good luck and congrats on the new pooch.

Not laughing at you but I haven’t personally owned a dog that wouldn’t scarf down whatever food I put in the bowl. Whenever they don’t eat, it’s close observation and off to the vet if the same happens at the next meal. On the other hand, my mother has a decades long history of fussy eaters. She can have three dogs at a time that won’t eat the same thing and it must be prepared or served in a different way. One might need to be spoon fed, another has to eat on the kitchen counter and one will only eat in a bathtub with the curtain pulled back exactly 9 inches. :rofl:


I agree that there is no reason to NOT give wet food with the dry; and/or only wet food. And I would consider Zantac or another acid reducer for a few weeks. Again, it can’t really hurt.

That aloof, distracted thing is very much a sign of a dog that has recently been adopted from a shelter (or really, any big life change). It is a sign of stress; and not necessarily a personality.

I would definitely change a few things - do not feed in a way that allows your other dog to steal food from this dog’s bowl. Just because he doesn’t seem to care now, doesn’t mean he doesn’t care. Don’t be complacent - especially because you need him to eat. Can you crate him for meals? That way he can take his time, and you avoid a dog fight in your kitchen.

I wouldn’t pick up his food immediately either. Again - if he can be crated and seems happy in a crate - give him a good 30 min to an hour of alone time with his food.

And along with that - if you’re not doing a shut down protocol - start now. Make sure that the dog gets to feel safe that the routine is the routine. Minimize anything new or different, at least for 2 weeks.

Also - some dogs don’t like some foods. I have a friend whose very healthy dog (everything was considered and tried) simply will not eat many foods. He is on Purina Pro Plan (which is a very good food) and now eats normally. So…I would give it some time, but in the end, a different food may help.


Mine has gone off canned food for the most part of late. I used to put a little in with his kibble.

Sometimes he just looks at his breakfast and wanders off. I wonder abt his tum tum and will give the zantac a try next time.

I went back to sweet potato on the kibble which he definitely prefers to dog food. He gets yogurt too sometimes.

Thanks everyone for the reply! Yes, I tried bone broth. It worked and then didn’t. I am still mixing the wet with the dry. He seems to eat better in the evening than the morning. I am almost out of dry food and may switch flavors to see if that helps…

S1969, I do not let my other dog steal. I did it once to see if that would help him eat better. My other dog will push him off his food if I continued that practice. I monitor all feedings.

He likes his crate until you shut the door. Then he freaks out. he actually breaks out of it and I am trying to stay one step ahead of him. He is currently crated in a room where I shut the door so if he does “jail break” he is not alone with my other dog or there is not much to chew. He is too new and I am not comfortable leaving him alone with my other dog yet.

I am doing the 30 day shelter protocol. He is kept to a routine and new things are introduced gradually. That being said, his whole world is different since he was an outdoor hunting dog and is now an inside house dog. So far, he has adapted very well and seems happy. However, I know he needs time to adjust. His favorite thing is the couch and you can barely pry him off of it! LOL!

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. He weighs 45 pounds. What dosage of Zantac should he get? He is super sweet and adorable! It is fun watching him transition to a happy, healthy dog!

1 Like

Zantac is off the market, you won’t find it anywhere. It’s been recalled.

Here’s an article about using famotidine:

Here’s an article about using omeprazole:

1 Like

As a fellow hound owner that’s an extremely picky eater but fluffy, it’s taken me a year to find a food he will consistently eat without me without broth or adding soft food.

Fromm chicken and brown rice is his choice.

Took mine 4-5months to eat if someone was watching him. Also crate wise, make sure it’s covered and just leave the door open and cover the opening with a blanket. We started all my dads hunting dogs that way when transitioning them to inside life. Then practiced closing the door and opening it randomly starting with like 30 seconds of it being closed. Plus we gave all treats in a crate.

They were already used to riding in a dog box in the truck, so fine traveling in a crate. Just not with the same visibility out that a crate provides.

1 Like

The dog I adopted a little over a year ago is the same way. I used canned dog food along with kibble for a while until she started turning her nose up at that too.

I was feeding twice a day because my diabetic dog needs to eat twice a day , so I fed my other 2 as well.

Turns out she just wasn’t hungry enough with eating morning and evening.

What I did was get her off the canned food and I cook and mix some real ground meat ( beef, pork, chicken, turkey) in with her evening kibble meal and she eats most all of it. I give her enough that she gets her fill.

Before I would follow her around trying to get her to eat and it was driving us both crazy!

1 Like

I too have a picky eater, similar to PNWSunnyDay’s dog complete with bile if he does not eat at his regular times.

I have switched to 100% freeze dried raw foods; K9 Naturals, Primal, and actual fresh raw meat. The throwing up stopped, the upset stomach stopped.

He is 11 now and runs around like a pup. Seriously, the vet has to look at his chart to confirm his age, they think I am lying. He has been 100% raw for 6 yrs.

I also follow the Chinese Traditional Medicine of Hot and Cold diets and only feed cold to netural foods.

Since he was a working hound dog, he may prefer some raw meats.

Good luck with your new family member. I am sure settling into a routine will also help.

So, we had a small development. This morning he turned up his nose as usual. However, he was very interested in the spoon I was using to stir the wet and dry food. I offered him some and he ate it. I put a small amount on the floor and he gobbled it up. I then dumped it on a paper towel and he ate almost all the food. He had not eaten out of a bowl until I got him. I think he turned it over at the shelter because that it was he did the first day at my house. I might have transitioned to a bowl quicker than I should have. I think he is only eating when he is starving.

My plan is to feed him from a paper towel for a few days, then transition him to a paper plate and then a bowl. I will not do it quickly. Would a bigger bowl help? A hound rescue I follow had this problem with some bear dogs. It took a year for two of them to eat from a bowl! I hope he won’t take that long but I will wait him out!


Does his collar or tags clink onto the side of the bowl? A few special souls find that sound aversive enough to avoid eating out of metal or ceramic bowls.

I think the ultimate solution is tincture of time. I would not try a dozen different foods and enticements in his first few weeks. Give him time. Follow the shutdown protocol. Expect him to eat like a normal dog and, I bet, in time, he will. He is a hound. :laughing:

1 Like

I would try a cookie sheet or pie plate for now. I didn’t realize until a few weeks ago when I broke one that I’ve never fed out of a dog bowl. Not that mine would care but I was using some old IKEA plates similar to this.

No, he started not eating from the bowl before his tags and he drinks ok. Tonight I fed him from a shallow paper plate. He ate every bite like he was starving. I think I am just going to continue with the plate and once he is at a good weight, start transitioning over. Thanks everyone for the suggestions!



I have learned that a BIG water bowl is preferred. Way wider than I would think needed. So my little prince has a water bowl about 14" across. Apparently it’s a whisker issue?

My puppy was becoming very picky. He would eat his food, then he wouldn’t. Sp I would mix in wet food and he would eat and then he wouldn’t. I tried mixing with broth. Mixing with plain water. Nothing made a difference.

Then I started him on Acana Duck and Pumpkin and he cleans his bowl with nothing added. All he gets is the kibble and he scarfs it down and has for the last six weeks.

I’ve had dogs forever. I fostered a bazillion dogs. Not a single soul was picky till I got my Red ACD. She had intermittent loose-ish stools, would sometimes eat, sometimes not, didn’t care if other dogs ate her food. I was using a chicken based food, when a friend suggested trying a different food. I am waayyy deep against switching food for picky eaters so I finally made a vet appointment. Her teeth were fine, her bloodwork was fine and tho she was a tiny bit thinner than I like, certainly not skinny. I decided to switch to Lamb & Rice for one bag and if it didn’t help I’d keep trudging along my current path.
holy dog.
She smelled that first bowl and .inhaled. it. Then I had a huge problem keeping her out of the bag! That night she made 63295 trips for just one-more-mouthful, which gave her loose stools the next day. We’ve never looked back and now she eats her dry food fine (still L&R), eats it with “good” stuff and has put on a ahem bit more weight than I like. The stools firmed up, we no longer had the gastric/bile puking and she’s become food motivated enough I can use kibble for training.
So don’t discount an allergy or something to the base ingredient. Try a small bag of something else and see if your dog won’t do better with one of them.

1 Like

Well, he continued to be picky. Some days he would eat and other days he wouldn’t. I started mixing cheese in the food, which I don’t like to do because it becomes a cycle of always having to mix. I had been feeding a duck based food. My other dogs have loved it. Yesterday, I bought a bag of beef based food. So far, he is eating it well once I get him started. He has gained 15 pounds since we brought him home and I would like him to gain another 5 or so. Hopefully, this will work!