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I have a very picky 11-week old puppy. I’ve tried multiple types of hard puppy chow from Hill’s Science Diet and Royal Canin to Orijen Whole Prey puppy chows, which I’ve then mixed with another type of soft puppy food- either Hill’s Science Diet Puppy, Royal Canin Puppy Loaf in Sauce or Hill’s Science Diet A/D Urgent Care. I’ve also tried adding tasty supplements like Nutragel or other natural alternatives like bone broth, chicken stock, sardines or yogurt and microwaving the food for a few seconds. I feed him twice a day: I’ll give him one serving of one of the aforementioned combinations, which is 1/4 cup of one of the hard puppy chows and 1/4 cup of one of the soft puppy foods (so one serving is one-half cup total), which he’ll then proceed to only eat half of that serving- and then stop- but if I give him another 1/4 cup of a different hard puppy chow, he’ll eat it. I’ve tried feeding him smaller portions at three times per day with the same results.

It’s very frustrating because I’ve been to the pet store and supermarket multiple times buying different foods but he won’t eat his original portion served. It’s like he gets sick of his food and then wants something else. Since he is eating and his energy levels are normal, the veterinarian seems to think he is fine and suggested to serve his food normally, allow him ten minutes to eat his breakfast and then withdraw the food and not serve him anything else until his next meal at dinner so he won’t be conditioned otherwise; however, since he is only 11-weeks old, I get worried because he’s a growing puppy and should eat full servings.

Does anyone else have this experience? What do you do with a picky puppy who seems to get sick of or bored with his food? Thanks!

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This is how many food related problems arise (and it's most often the humans who exhibit the problematic behavior like insisting their dog needs to be hand fed).

You already tried different brands of food, so it isn't that your dog is picky. Maybe he just wants a short digestive pause. Maybe he's ok with eating just until he's no longer hungry in contrast to eating until he's full. Maybe he needs less food than you estimate because he's a little less active or because of his genes. Maybe it's not at all about food and he's manipulating you into giving him more attention.

Whatever the reason for his behavior is, I totally agree with your vet. He will eat when he's hungry. As long as you don't deprive him of food, he'll grow up healthy.

There are 2 possible solutions here:

  • You can let his half eaten portion stand until it's eaten. That teaches him that he can always eat as little or as much as he wants and no one takes his food away. This can help some dogs who get acid reflux or vomit if they haven't eaten for too long.
  • You can take the uneaten food away till the next meal time. That teaches him that food is a resource that's only available at certain times. He doesn't get to chose when it's time to eat. This can be helpful if dogs eat too little or need medication that shouldn't be taken on an empty stomach.

What you should not do is make a fuss. Your dog is not starving. He's not going to be malnourished. He's not suffering. He's developing fine. If you try to "convince" him by hand feeding, you create a much bigger problem, as evindenced by these rexamples:
My dog adopted the Habit of “Hand Feeding”
I have to hand feed my dog
Dog refuses to eat unless fed by hand

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After trying multiple combinations of dog foods mixed with human condiments, we finally tried Purina Pro Plan Puppy Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Dry Dog Food in a feeding toy ball after seeing several recommendations for the same “picky-puppy” food issues on reddit/puppy 101. I might add that the Purina Pure Plan puppy chows are easier for him to masticate at 12 weeks; this was a big problem with other brands- as noted in the question, we also tried:

  1. Hill’s Science Diet Puppy: Eatable for him but caused diarrhea.
  2. Royal Canin French Bulldog Puppy: Kibble is too big to chew.
  3. Solid Gold Puppy: Great ingredients but difficult to chew- kibble is slightly too big; he’d only eat half of his servings.
  4. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy: Kibble is the right size but too hard so he couldn’t break it with his small amount of teeth.

This resolved our problem- he now enjoys his food in the feeding ball toy (1/3 cup of Purina Pro Plan 3x daily). Thanks!

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  • I’m unable to comment at that length- so I’ll leave posted as as an answer. Thanks for the suggestion. Jan 11 at 20:12
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    It is perfectly fine to post answers to your own question, but this particular answer seems to promote certain products, websites and online shops and was flagged as possible spam by several users. Can you please edit your answer and remove all links to web shops? You can write the product name(s) and interested readers can find them in their own preferred web shops. If you fail to remove the links, this answer will be deleted.
    – Elmy
    Jan 12 at 9:10
  • I’ll remove the links to the products but I don’t see how the Reddit link is spam- but sure thing, will do. Jan 12 at 13:14
  • Reddit is not the problem, but you linked to 2 online shops and the amazon link looked suspicious. Apart from that, I think it's a good answer.
    – Elmy
    Jan 12 at 13:23

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