I have often written about Luke's lack of desire to eat; it is at times frustrating and not something I look forward to in any of my future dogs. Feeding a dog who eats well is a joy as is feeding a big strong growing boy. I like feeding people and dogs who like to eat; I guess I fall into the Mom category for enjoying to feed for sure. But Luke has given me pause to think about the whole "I don't want to eat" issue. What is it in Luke that makes him like this?
There are times I have put raw meat in his dish and he walks away. He won't look to see what's in the bowl and he turns and leaves the room. What I am finding and you will no doubt be laughing when you read this is that if I take his food and entice him with it; he will eat. So this leaves me to ponder. Lately I have been making him work for his food; taking a piece of meat and keeping it at a distance, winging it around like the proverbial airplane so to speak. Mmmmmmmm look at this, looks good eh? Giving him a little nibble but making him really want it by keeping it away for a bit*. This is really working, the more I keep it away the more he wants it. When I do give it to him he must pull it away from me which seems to trigger his prey drive, interesting.
So is Luke's low level food desire a problem caused by humans? Caused by the simple fact that we have over the years made eating out of a bowl the way we feed our dogs? Eating out of a bowl is a very unnatural thing for a dog; normal now after years of being fed in a bowl but genetically it is radically different from hunting down and ripping into their meal like a wolf would. Luke seems to eat just fine if his prey drive is tapped into. For us it is quite normal to sit down at the table and eat our food very civilized like; for dogs not so much.
Luke is a different dog; he is like the "big book of dogs" for me and has taught me much over the years. He is reactive and very instinctive although many onlookers would think not so. There is clearly a wolf very near the surface of his poodle exterior. More often than not we humanize our dogs; I try very hard not to do this myself but as a human it happens and luckily for us many of our dogs have adjusted to our weird and strange human ways.
But we can help those dogs who have grown bored with bowl eating. This morning I took their food outside, they were out there drying in the sun from their baths. So I tossed their food around the yard. The girls start eating immediately, I had to work harder for him. He started to get charged up running after the flying food but it still took several more tosses to get him to pick up the first piece. Once he downs the first piece the rest comes much easier. So no bowl this morning, it was the backyard food toss feeding.
Life is an evolution for all involved.
*For many dogs; keeping their food away will trigger a guarding behavior. I can barely get Luke to eat let alone guard his food; so I can use this to entice eating. I do not recommend using this for the average dog guardian.