First things first: if your dog has a pulse then your dog is indeed food motivated. There are three possible reasons for a dog that is not excited about food.
1. The dog is overfed. Small breeds are probably most prone to being overfed. They have tiny tummies. The dehydrated food that most people feed is packed with calories and expands in a dog's stomach. Regardless of dog's size; use a lined measuring cup to ascertain the correct quantity of food. Pick up any food not eaten within 10 minutes. If your dog regularly walks away from their food, then the amount that you are offering is probably more than their daily caloric need. Reduce the quantity accordingly.
2. Your dog is stressed. Chronic stress can suppress a dog's appetite. This leads most people to leave food out throughout the day, which can exacerbate the problem. Keep your dog on a feeding schedule. If your dog walks away from their food bowl, be sure to pick it up. Talk to a professional trainer that will help teach you how to build your dog's confidence, and minimize his or her day to day stress.
3. Your dog is sick. A sudden loss of appetite or change in eating habits could be an indication that your dog should be brought to the vet. This will be easier to spot in a dog that is already on a healthy feeding schedule.
There are studies that show that small quantities of food are more effective at stimulating an animal's appetite than a larger quantity of the same food. Biologically, brains are programmed to be suspicious of foods that are offered in abundance. With this in mind, here's a tip that will get your dog excited about meal time: measure out the ideal quantity of food for the day based on your dog's weight, age and activity, and offer it in smaller portions throughout the day.
Written by Alyssa Lapinel, CPDT-KA
Alyssa is founder and head trainer of Legends Dog Training, based in San Diego, CA. She offers private sessions and group classes in San Diego, as well as, skype consultations. Go to www.legendsdogtraining.com for more information about training services.
Alyssa Rose, CPDT-KA
Certified by the Council for Professional Dog Trainers