Feeding your Puppy
My puppy isn't eating much, or doesn't like the food. What should I do?
So, so many people (especially first-time puppy parents) have this question. As far as the food goes, my most frequent advice (and I know this will be difficult) is to not worry about it. Poodle mixes are smart and can tell when you are concerned about something. They may use that to manipulate you -- instead of you training them, they will train you. Some Goldendoodles also just don't have big appetites.
Since you will probably want to take some action, below are some things you can try. Choose one method, and see how it goes for a while before trying another. Make sure everyone in the house is on the same page (not slipping treats or snacks to the pup).
The Food-Restriction Method
1) First step is to skip a meal. Just go on with your day, without feeding the puppy. Maybe breakfast, or dinner, just act like you've forgotten and go on with your routine.
2) For the next meal, get something for yourself to eat (either a meal, a snack, or just a cracker). Prepare her meal, then eat yours in front of her, so that she sees you eating. When you are finished
with it, put her dish of food down in front of the puppy, and WALK AWAY.
3) Don't look at, or talk about the puppy food again for about 20 minutes, then (without fanfare) remove the dish and food, and put it out of sight.
4) Don't think about it again until the next meal, and repeat steps 2 and 3 (you eat, give her food, walk away then remove food after 20 minutes).
5) Keep treats and edible chews to a minimum until eating returns to normal, or until you are no longer concerned.
The Adding-Things Method
1) First, try adding warm water to the puppy food. It can make the meal more interesting to the puppy.
2) You can also add a couple tablespoons of canned dog food and some water. Any of the three Life's
Abundance canned foods will work for this, but my favorite is the Pork & Venison Grain-Free because it mixes better with the water and food.
3) Chicken broth, beef broth, etc. are OK to add too, but just watch the sodium content and add water.
4) Small amounts of rice, pumpkin, and/or plain yogurt can be added if the puppy likes them.
The No-Meals Method
1) Stop feeding meals to your puppy. Put the food bowl away, and skip the next meal.
2) Kibble will now be fed, by hand, as rewards for desired behaviors.
3) Measure out her maximum amount of food for each day, then put it in a baggie or treat bag.
4) Whenever the puppy does something you like, hand feed a kibble or two. This can be a reward for
sitting calmly by your side, following you well on a walk, going to "place" sitting to greet someone,
doing a trick, or whatever. Do not give kibble in a bowl, or for "free."
5) For more information on this method, see Dr. Sophia Yin's book "Perfect Puppy in 7 Days."
The Hand Feeding Method (This is similar to the No-Meals Method above.)
1) Start by skipping a meal.
2) When it's time for the next meal, sit with your puppy, holding the bowl of food.
3) Reach in and get small handfuls and hold them while the puppy eats.
4) If s/he gets more interested in food, and starts eating more readily, start requiring something for each handful, even if it's just a second or two of eye contact (gradually increase the duration).
5) This method takes a bit more time, but can be a really good bonding exercise. I do this when I get a puppy or dog who is older than 12 weeks. It really helps us to develop a solid bond and working relationship.
Some Other Things to Think About
1) Don't worry about the puppy's weight. Goldendoodles are 1/2 poodle (or sometimes more) -- and Poodles are known by some as "greyhounds with fur" -- they are often VERY thin. Your Goldendoodle may just have that body type. Some people say their Goldendoodle "eats like a supermodel." It will be better for her in the long run to be a little underweight than to be overweight.
2) She will get the nutrients she needs. Both Life's Abundance and TLC are high-nutrient, premium foods formulated by people who care deeply about pets. Dogs (and cats) don't need the quantity of these foods that they need with other, inferior, brands of food. The puppy's appetite is likely to increase as growth and activities require more calories. Less food in, means less food out -- less to clean up!
3) Any of the Life's Abundance foods, or the TLC foods are OK for her to eat, with the exception of the weight-loss food from Life's Abundance. If, for instance, she likes the adult food from TLC or one of the adult choices from LA, that would be fine for her to eat even as a puppy. In fact, since they are a bit lower in nutrients & calories, she may eat a larger quantity of those.
4) Let me know if you have questions about any of these, or concerns about your puppy's eating habits.
How often & how much should I feed my puppy ?
You should feed your puppy 3 times per day. When the dog is a year old, you can switch to 2 times per day.
For the correct daily amount, check the puppy food bag for a feeding chart. The recommended amount varies by weight, and will change as the puppy grows. However, don't worry too much about the feeding chart amount; puppies will not overeat, or undereat if given a high-quality dry food. Your puppy should be allowed to eat as much as it wants at each meal offering of 10-15 minutes. After this time, you should remove the bowl. You will find your puppy's appetite will increase as he/she goes through a growth spurt. His/her appetite will decrease when less energy is required for growing. Don't take this as a sign your puppy no longer likes his/her food. Offering a new food will entice your puppy to eat even when it is not hungry, which can lead to health problems.
Do I need to soften the dry food before giving it to my puppy?
Most puppies have a full set of teeth when they go to their new homes. As long as this is the case, then your puppy can/should eat the food dry. Occasionally softening the food, or adding some canned food, is OK, but a regular diet of dry kibble is best for your dog's health and teeth.
Will my puppy have a normal appetite when I first take him/her home?
Some puppies do not eat well for the first few days during a transition. It is common for them not to eat at all the first day in their new home. Sometimes wetting the food with warm water for the first few days will entice them to resume a normal eating schedule. Your puppy should be weaned back to dry food within the first few days.
Can I give my puppy treats?
Treats should be used as rewards when teaching new behaviors, or periodically to reinforce known behaviors. Think of giving a treat to a dog like giving a piece of candy to a young child. It isn't harmful, but should be done in moderation. It is best that you use the safe, healthy treats from Life's Abundance, which have never been recalled.
Puppy Care Questions & Answers