How to Wean Your Dog Off People Food

by Todd Bowerman
    Healthy dogs will eat dog food when they get hungry enough.

    Healthy dogs will eat dog food when they get hungry enough.

    John Howard/Digital Vision/Getty Images

    Dogs and humans are not supposed to have the same diets. Dogs have specific dietary needs that are not met by the meal habits of humans. Some breeds require particular nutrients to ensure healthy growth and longevity of life. If your dog has grown up on people food and table scraps, making the switch to a healthy dog food might present a challenge. However, a little patience and hard work will result in a pup that’s happy to eat the food she’s supposed to be eating.

    Rule Out Medical Problems

    See a veterinarian if your dog shows strange eating habits or a shift in her normal mealtime behavior. If the dog is turning down dog food, it’s possible she has some sort of medical problem that is affecting her dietary preferences. Ruling out medical issues is critical if you want to safely transition your dog from people food to dog food and your dog begins refusing the new food. Once you know your dog is in good health, you can begin the tough weaning process.

    Invest in High-Quality Dog Food

    No two dog food brands or formulas are the same. If you’re switching your dog from people food to dog food, you need to be certain she’s getting the best quality food you can afford. Bear in mind that the most expensive food may not in fact be the healthiest. High-quality dog foods are those without animal by-products and limited corn and wheat. Look at the list of ingredients. Foods with chicken meal, duck meal, lamb meal or another meat meal as the first or second ingredient are generally good foods. Once again, speak with a vet if you have questions about choosing dog food.

    Stop the People Food

    Once you know your dog is healthy and you have a nutritious dog food selected, it’s time to stop giving people food. There is no weaning process here and no tapering off. Simply stop and ensure everyone in your family follows the same rules. Your dog didn’t naturally develop a habit of eating people food. You and the other people in your home taught the dog to eat people food by providing it to her. If you want her to stop eating it, stop giving it to her.

    Wait it Out

    Offer your dog the recommended amount of dog food for her weight and age, twice per day. Place the food in a bowl and give the dog an hour or so to eat. If she ignores the food, pick up the bowl after an hour and try again later that day. No healthy dog will allow itself to starve. Dogs are smart enough to manipulate you into giving them treats, affection and people food, so your dog may attempt to wait out your new feeding habits. Do not cave in. The dog can either eat her food when it is presented or she can refuse it and go hungry until the next feeding time. It’s fine for a dog to go a day without eating. When she gets hungry enough, she’ll eat her dog food.

    Photo Credits

    • John Howard/Digital Vision/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Based primarily in Austin, Texas, Todd Bowerman has been working as a writer since 2004. He has provided numerous independent clients with ghostwriting and SEO copywriting services. Bowerman currently serves as editor-in-chief of Button Masher Online. He studied English at DePaul University.

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