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Yesterday night I was foolish and kept trying to coax my dog to drink water because he hadn't drunk any water for hours even after his walk. I got frustrated and picked him up to put him in the room he stays in (he got excited at first because he thought I was going to put him on my bed but started whimpering on the way to his room). I didn't yell at him, hit him, or put him down violently on his bed, but it was probably the irritated manner in which I carried him there.. After I took him out this morning (7AM) he was whimpering when I petted him and then he walked away and sat a distance from me and continued to whimper. He also would not eat his food, so I had to hand feed him. Afterwards, I went back to bed and allowed him to sleep with me this time and he was fine but when I picked him up to put him on the floor when I woke again (the bed is high) he was shrieking and yelping although I was definitely not hurting him and I'm sure he has no injuries as he was perfectly fine before I acted so terribly. He has always been a timid dog ever since I've had him because he was abused at his previous home. He usually eats again at about 5PM but now he won't even eat from my hand, let alone his bowl. He puts it in his mouth and spits it back out and has not drunk any water so far today. I left the room where he usually stays but now he also has not moved from his bed whereas this morning he still followed me to my room even if he did not sit by me...

I apologize for rambling I just wanted to give some background. I have never EVER hit him, I have never hurt him (until now I guess) I love this dog more than anything in this world, more than myself.

Also, if I tell him to come to me he will come but whimpers when I pet him and then leaves to sit a distance from me again. I feel terrible even though I did not physically harm him. I just want him to eat and return to his former happy self, even his trot seems so slow and depressed now and I know I'm to blame. I know I should not have acted this way knowing how sensitive he is..

My main question is how do I make him eat and drink again? And how do I let him know that I'm sorry for acting how I did and that I would never hurt him? Please help me.

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    This sounds a lot more serious than your dog being upset at you over a single incident. I would take him to a vet to have him checked out; not drinking, not eating and shrieking when picked up are signs that something is very wrong. – Cucamonga Feb 9 '15 at 0:46
  • I know it seems serious but I am sure it's not so much of a medical condition as it is a psychological condition. When I first got him he would shriek when people held him but eventually warmed up. I'm fearful he may have reverted to that stage, he drank some water but now it's as though he is afraid to eat from his bowl, he accepted some hand fed food. Do you think I should continue hand feeding or will that create an unwanted habit/need to be hand fed? – user3588 Feb 9 '15 at 1:27
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    Don't think the habit would be an issue in the long run. Dogs don't starve to death with food around. If there's food and there's nothing preventing the dog from eating it (other than lazyness or some habit), it will eventually eat on its own. – Mario Feb 9 '15 at 9:07
  • As for not drinking, you could try giving a few drips of milk into the dog's water (assuming he's not intolerant to lactose). Just keep in mind that this water will go bad significantly faster than clear water. – Mario Feb 9 '15 at 9:08
  • Hi Mario, my dog is eating and drinking normally again when I am not around. I will give your milk suggestion a try and be more wary of changing his water. Fortunately, I've managed to hold him without him shrieking but he still seems to distrust me significantly although just days ago he would not leave my side. I am very disheartened but will continue to work at it. Thanks for commenting! – user3588 Feb 9 '15 at 16:31
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Not eating/drinking and indicating distress is quite a big alarm bell. With reference to:

http://www.pawfriendly.com/community/sick-dog-symptoms

This could be a sign that your dog is unwell - that it's in pain for some reason, and is reluctant to eat/drink, and your picking it up is causing pain. (Any chance your dog could have swallowed something like a piece of bone?)

You may be right, and it might be psychological, but I would really suggest it's time to consult a vet.

Edit: Following from comments:

Behaviourally - a dog that's been abused may never completely recover. It takes gentle care and compassion to 'fix' them - there's no fast answer. The key thing to remember is that dogs form associations, but they don't have the same notion of cause and effect as people do. They will remember situations in which 'bad things' happened and situations in which 'good things' happen. It's possible that your handling of the dog triggered one of these associations - if it's a rescue, you may never entirely know.

What you should avoid though, is 'rewarding' behaviour you don't want repeated. Hand feeding for example - your dog may think of that as a reward, and repeat the action that got them the reward. Much like a toddler - dogs can do attention seeking negative behaviours.

Dogs are generally fairly smart about ensuring they eat though - if you simply ensure food and water are available (clean and fresh) then your dog will eat once it's hungry.

Otherwise - you can't force trust. Bribery is a reasonable approximation though :). Find some 'high value' treats, and encourage your dog to interact with you and get the reward. Quite how demanding depends how much training you've done already, but ... getting the dog used to doing things for you, and getting rewarded for it goes quite a long way to overcoming it's fear and distrust.

  • Agreed. It sounds more like the dog is sick, than a behavior issue. Better take it to the vet to make sure. – Kai Feb 9 '15 at 16:38
  • I'm almost positive he is not ill because he continued to eat and drink again. He has always been skiddish and now it's just worse. I took him for his annual in January and all was well but I will take him to the vet again for good measure. If any one can suggest things I can do to work with him behaviorally, I would be very grateful. – user3588 Feb 9 '15 at 21:01
  • OK, if eating and drinking has resumed, it's likely your dog was 'just' distressed. Unfortunately with a rescue/abused dog, you can never quite be sure which associations they've built up. It may be that you've 'tripped' a warning signal. – Sobrique Feb 9 '15 at 22:12
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I have a dog that doesn't like to drink. He likes to drink in the middle of the night. Or when no one is looking. I read up on it and one thing that it said was watermelon is 80% water and a dog can have it just make sure there is no seeds.. Also wet dog food instead of dry and I sneak a little water in it.You can freeze watermelon pieces so you have them all the time. I worry about it. I have a niece that doesn't want to drink either.You have to love your way into his heart again. But call your vet and ask him what he thinks. Good luck.

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