I need your help/advice for my dog..Please!


My sister and I went to a pet store sometime last week to buy fish for our kids. On the way to that area of the store we had to pass by “adoptions”. Being the softies that we are, we popped in and slumped in the corner was a dog. She is 3 yrs old, white and looked to be a cross between German Shepard and wolf. Her papers say she is German Shepard. I don’t know a lot about dogs, I just feed mine, play with her and pretty much spoil her. This white dog was skin and bones. You could see her ribs through her gorgeous white fur. We asked if we could see her out of the cage and she crawled out on her belly, head down, ears down… my sister and I started to cry. We sat there with this dog for about an hour, crying and petting her and getting hooked on her. We asked for background on this dog and apparently she was starved (obviously) and abused. They told us she wouldn’t eat.

We finally left, (without the fish) , and talked about this dog all night. We went back the next day to discover she still hadn’t eaten. We bought her some canned food and she ate that… YAY! After visiting her for 4 days, my sister and her husband bought the dog for me :slight_smile:

After having her now for 4 days, she is a happy dog who runs around, wags her tail and never cowers anymore!! :slight_smile: :)We call her “Spirit” .

Problem…. I can’t get her to eat ANYTHING but human food. I have tried cutting up ham into itsy bitsy pieces and mixing it in her food, I make a gravy for her food… you name it, I have tried it. She will NOT eat dog food. I can’t afford to feed her canned food or human food. However, until I get her fattened up, I will.

Does anyone have any suggestions for me? I am at a loss as to how to get her to be less picky…??

Thanks :slight_smile:


Well, I commend you on rescuing this dog from the pet store. It sounds like you have really given her a new lease on life. I understand that you cannot keep feeding her people food, I agree. I have helped to raise Old English Sheepdogs for 12 years and I have never heard of this kind of situation, but I’ll try to help.

The problem may be that she just doesn’t like the kind of food you’re trying, have you tried other kinds, first of all? If so have you tried different flavors like lamb and rice, or chicken, or beef, etc? It could be that once she gets more used to being fed that she may eat her dog food, but I’m just speculating.

Also, you may need to take her to the vet. There may be a problem with the dog, since obviously if she was starved, she probably didn’t get any other care.

For now, you may want to try the boxed Macaroni and Cheese, it’s not that expensive. You can also mix that with beef, and/or with rice to give it some body. Hope this was a help. :slight_smile:

First, you have to take her to the vet for a complete check up. Since she has an unknown background, I’d opt for the works: vaccines, fecal, urinalysis, heartworm test, basic bloodwork like CBC and chem panel. Also, keep in mind that Spirit has been through a lot. She is acting happier now but she may have some behavioral issues that will need to be addressed. If her eating problems are emotional rather than a symptom of a physical problem, you may want to consult with a behaviorist or dog trainer.


I first of all have to say that the above sounds like you are married to your sister and it made me snicker.

As for your question. Try mixing the dog food with bacon grease or vegetable oil. This will make it smell kinda people-y and she will get used to the texture, then slowly reduce the amount of oil.


Maybe she has problems with her teeth, and eating crunchy stuff is painful for her. Take her to a vet and have her teeth checked out as well as everything else.

You can always feed dogs boiled hamburger (or fried, but you have to not only drain it but RINSE it – no grease allowed) mixed with rice; or cooked chicken mixed with rice. Also try veggies. Many dogs like carrots, peas, green beans, etc.

Okay, first I just have to join in witht the commendations for having saved that dog. It really was a joy to read about.

I’ll also join in with the advice for a vet check-up, since, again, this dog has had a questionable past, to say the least.

Thank you for putting me in a better mood with your story, and best wishes to you and Spirit.

The best ways to way to break a dog of food fussiness are:

  1. Get another dog. If Spirit sees another dog eating HER food, she’ll suddenly remember she LIKES dog food.

  2. This works, and doesn’t require any additional dogs. Put out her food. Tell her to eat it, that it is all she’s getting today. If the food is untouched after ten minutes, WHILE SHE IS WATCHING, pick up the dish and dump it in the garbage. Do not give her anything else but water that day. Repeat the procedure the next day. If she is REAL stubborn it may take a few days, but she’ll get the picture of where she stands in the pack. She’s playing “poor little me” games with you and will get as much out of you as she can. Show her who’s the alpha in THIS pack.

Like the commercial says: Dogfood. It’s what’s for dinner.

Sounds like plenty of good advice so far. A good vet is key!

FWIW…my brother and his family adopted a German Shepherd with pretty much the same disposition…she had been abused and malnourished, and as a result she would frequently cower under the table. In no time at all, she started to perk up, much like Spirit, and is by far, one of the best dogs I have ever known. Luckily, there were no residual emotional problems, just an outpouring of loyalty that is excessive, even by dog standards!

Good luck!

I think Rabbit already has another dog.

As for offering only dog food and tossing it if she doesn’t eat…this might work in most cases, but there are dogs out there who are truly anorexic due to behavioral issues, and these dogs will starve. Because Spirit is undernourished at this point, it is important to keep her eating, no matter what it is she wants to eat.

There is some excellent advice here. I have a free vet check (offered by the agency I adopted her from).

I will try most of these suggestions. :slight_smile:


I am glad to see that you can get free vet service, this is a very good policy. Is that only for a check up, or does it cover any tests, etc you may need? Still, I’m sure you’re aware any dog needs the continuing care of a GOOD vet.

Good luck! :smiley:

Try scrambled eggs-they are inexpensive and super easy to make doggy style–just pop in a bowl, microwave and stir. You could even mix in her puppy chow. Good luck and thanks for saving her!

My two cents - My puppy when I first got him was blind and would not walk to his food dish out of fear. I started him on canned and gradually mixed more and more dry in until he was on dry only. I put the food basically under his nose.

I would also agree with trying the typical “bland diet” boiled hamburger and rice.

Also there are vitamin supplements that help perk up the appetite. You can pick it up at any petstore. I tried that on an abused, abandoned dog I had rescued once. He was eventually weaned on to regular dry food too.

A friend of mine went through the same thing with rescued Rottie who was 40 lbs underweight and head been left tied up at the side of the road to die. She had to sit on the floor and hand feed him. He’s now 150 lbs, so obviously it worked.

With a “normal” dog I’d take drop’s advice on only leaving the food down for a few minutes, but with an abused, starved dog where you don’t know the history, I wouldn’t. The dog obviously has food issues - maybe the creep who had used to beat her near the food dish. Who knows - there are a lot of sick people out there.

And Michi is right - it might seem like she’s a normal dog now, but there may be some behavior issues you’ll have to deal with. The poor girl has been through a lot.

The dog is not anorexic–it will eat, but only “people food.” That indicates “spoiled (or wanting to be spoiled)” more than “disturbed.” And I have been through raising a “rescued” dog with behavioral problems, so I am not talking (totally) through my hat.

OTOH, the bland diet being suggested is far from balanced. She’d be better off with table scraps, if they were balanced. My kids were fussy eaters, so my dog claimed everything that landed on the floor. Since the kids were quite indiscriminate in what they wouldn’t eat (anything with any nutritional value) the dog got a nicely balanced diet. She also became proactive, climbing into their high chairs to take food that han’t yet been thrown to her. (Wife laughed it off, saying “A dog that doesn’t have enough initiative to steal food is no damned good.”) Since I fed the kids a balanced diet the dog got only enough dogfood to cover the difference and to provide any dog-specific nutrients she was missing.


Vets will frequently recommend feeding diets like boiled chicken, ground beef(rinsed of fat), rice, and other vegetables. This is not meant to be a long term thing, but if a dog is not eating, for whatever reason, but DOES show interest in people food described above, then there is no reason those foods cannot be offered (while at the same time trying to get the dog to eat dogfood). Right now the biggest issue is making sure Spirit eats, making sure she eats almost anything, in order to get her health back up to par.

And I am sorry, but dismissing Spirit as spoiled or “just fussy” is totally wrong. Your experience raising a rescued dog is commendable, but not every dog is the same.

It sounds like Spirit is in a very loving, caring home now. Still, she has some issues that need to be worked on. Extremes in any situation need to be avoided. Slow and gradual is the key. Assuming there is no physical reason for Spirit’s unwillingness to eat, just try to indtroduce regular dog food slowly.

Problem that is common with German Shepherds is that they can be very nervous and so be aggressive as a result.

Germans call them angstbeisers - anxious biters - whch is not a bad description of their temperement.

Truth is that can be so fearful they nip, rather than bite, but then there are degrees, some do nip others are seem to be in a state of perpetual nervous breakdown cowering in corners.

But, and its a big one, once you have their confidence they are utterly loyal and tremendous companions.

They are not too easy for novice owners but its worth the effort.

They tend to be one person dogs so I would try to make sure that you have the same person feed and care for her or at least do most of it.She needs to see authority in one person and that means in taking her to the vet, administering treatment, pretty much anytime where she will be stressed that person needs to be around.

Helping her regain her confidence is not as hard as you might think, it mainly revolves around giving her a role within your family pack.
This means training her, she will see it as being given ‘responsability’ which is not quite how a dog sees it but gets the idea over.

Get yourself involved with a local dog training group. You will also find there will be someone who has had or seen similar behaviours before.

And keep us posted, I’d love to hear how well she does, you will be pleasntly surprised I think.

I agree with all the others who suggest that you take the dog to the vet. If he checks out ok, the vet will be able to give you some good suggestions on how to get himn to eat. There are also supplements available.

I’m only half joking when I say act like you’re eating the dog food and then offer a bite to the dog. Perhaps he just wants what you are eating. Or he may have some bad memories associated with the food bowl as porcupine suggested.

I had a shih tzu that would only eat canned food and was told by the previous owner that he would pout and starve himself until he got canned food. I tried what dropzone suggested, putting the food down and taking it back up after about 1/2 an hour. He went hungry for about a day and a half until he decided that dry was better than hungry. I started out with mostly canned mixed with a little dry food and kept mixing in dry until it was all dry and no canned.
He was fine after that and lived to be 13 years old.

You can try adding a little bacon grease or butter or oil to the dog food to make it more appealing. But be aware that too much fat can give them the “soupy poopies” which is never fun for anyone.

I feed my dogs “Diamond” brand dog food. It is made by the Iam’s company-an Ohio based firm and only available at feed stores and such in 40 lb bags. Iam’s brand is widely available but cost a bit more. The main advantage is that it has no fillers and the dog’s require less of it to get good nutrition. Bonus is that less fillers=less poops–nothing wrong with that.

I just realized that I have made 2 dog poop comments already in this post. FTR I am not dog poop preoccupied but your dog’s stool should be observed for blood parasites and anything out of the ordinary. Just to show that you never know what your dog’s ingested, I submit for your perusal this site

My breeder reccomended dog-gravy, which I found at my local grocery store and Petsmart. The bottle it comes in looks just like a ketchup bottle, and there are several different flavors. Just stir it into the dry food until it is completely coated and serve. My dog goes nuts for it. Same thing as putting grease or oil in the food to make it more appetizing, but formulated for dogs with vitamins and whatnot so it should be better for her.

Wife suggests warm water with some ketchup disolved in it. Pour that over the dry stuff and it becominstant People Food.