Bullmarket French Bulldog Breeders

Pickle is Possibly Just Picky

Pretty Pretty Pickle Puppy

I found an interesting article on ‘forced weaning’. It seems to sum up all of Pickle’s symptoms quite perfectly, and would suggest that, in many cases, this is a psychological or behavioral issue, rather than physiological.

It goes something like this…

Puppy isn’t eating well.
Owner feeds puppy.
Puppy resists, owner force feeds puppy.
Puppy resists more strenuously, owner force feeds more often and more vigorously.

Puppy comes to associate eating with unpleasantness, and balks at any suggestion of food, causing owner to continue force feeding, with escalation of puppy’s behavior.

It does seem to make sense, doesn’t it?

One of the suggestions on how to break the cycle is to introduce a new food puppy has never tried before, and then feed that food with a strict ‘hands off’ approach. No hand feeding, no coaxing – just put it down, and leave it. Since I’ve hand fed Pickle all of the foods I normally would feed a puppy (raw, pablum with baby food, hamburger, etc), I decided to try some kibble.

I soaked some Pro Plan Selects puppy in goats milk, mushed it up with a fork, and put it down in a bowl. All of the other puppies rushed for the dish, as usual. Pickle seemed about to, but then noticed me at the side of the whelping box, and wandered over to see what I was up to. Since I was obviously a distraction, I left the room, steeling myself to just leave them alone for a good five minutes.

When I returned, I found Pickle ankle deep in the food bowl, along with the rest of her siblings. She might not have eaten as much as they did, but the fact that she ate anything, willingly and without being hand fed or force fed from a syringe, is a phenomenal start.

It would be ironic if all of this stress has been caused by the simple fact that Pickle is picky. Ironic isn’t really the word I’m looking for here, either – tragic, perhaps. Or seriocomedic.

New pictures of the puppies on Flickr, or below the cut in a slide show.

8 replies
  1. KarenTX
    KarenTX says:

    Wow! Wouldn’t that be something if it was no more than that?! Fingers crossed that it is. Go forth and chow down, Pickle!

  2. Susan
    Susan says:

    Hallelujah! Though maybe not pickyness per se so much as picking up on your anxiety?

    Our stress really affects them! I’m sure it’s not the same thing, since Logan was already 10 months old, but Logan developed a “fear of food” when we got Bacon. Bacon would steal his food, and I started trying to keep Bacon away from Logan’s food, and the commotion upset Logan. When I tried to feed Logan separately he could hear Bacon making a ruckus over being locked out and would not eat. I would get upset that he wasn’t eating, and follow him around begging him to eat, until he ran away as soon as he saw me getting the bowls out! The solution was similar…

  3. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    Makes sense…. I had a male Akita who was that way. If I even looked at him while he was eating he would walk away from his bowl. He would eat with his head in the bowl and his eyes glued to me one glance and he was done.
    Rumble on the other hand is a piggy extroidinaire! Put his head in the bowl and only comes up when it is completely empty, then he checks all around the outside to make sure he didn’t drop any.
    Glad to hear Pickle is making progress!!!

  4. Judith Stoodley
    Judith Stoodley says:

    Well I hope you’re not beating yourself up over this, because, while for Pickle this may (fingers crossed) turn out to be the right solution, for another puppy force feeding might be the way to go.

    I had a litter of Maine Coon kittens about fifteen years ago. When weaning time came all the kittens dove into the food with gusto, except for one. She continued to nurse, but after a few days I consulted with my vet to told me just to “wait her out.” A week later it was clear that she had lost a lot of ground compared to her siblings. So I called the breeder we had bought her mother from. That wise woman told me to force feed her. I picked her up and pushed a fingertip with a bit of mush on it into her mouth. She practically took my finger off! One more forced bite and she directed herself at the food dish. At the next meal she again didn’t know what to do, and again one bite brought out a ravenous beast within. After that there was no looking back. I have a theory that it was a neurological wire that didn’t trip when it was supposed to and needed a boost.

    Pickle is adorable!

  5. Barb
    Barb says:

    I’ve seen this happen before and not just with puppies. Although we get so much MORE worried and anxious – even panicky – with puppies who aren’t eating because we know they just can’t go a day or two without food the way a healthy adult dog can.

    Here’s hoping you’ve found the trick to getting her to eat!
    .-= Barb´s last blog ..Mirror image Monday =-.

  6. Jenniferj
    Jenniferj says:

    It seems they can get in a habit of not eating, and with the little guys, it almost seems like that basic drive to eat gets shut off.

    I once brought home a bulldog puppy from a friend who weighed 10 ounces at three weeks, her littermates were all 31/2-4 pounds. A combination of an inexperienced breeder and just this puppys bad luck led to the situation.

    She was severely dehydrated which was easy to fix, but also very debilitated. She would start to eat, then back off. The more she tried to eat the more exhausted she became. I ended up tube feeding her for about a week, then essentially force feeding her until she was close to seven weeks at which point she was up to 31/2 pounds. One day she finally started to pick at the various foods left in front of her day in and day out and eventually began eating well. She almost caught up to her littermates. The friend that took her did decide to show and she eventually became a champion although with her severe deprivation and smallish stature they opted not to breed her. She will be 9 this winter.

    Getting a struggling puppy over the hump and healthy is great. It makes the struggle to save the ones that don’t feel much much more worthwhile.

    Pickle looks bright, hopefully whatever got her on the “picky” path will be behind her ASAP!

  7. Nataly
    Nataly says:

    Sometimes it’s happen on period upto 2-4 days. Nothing help… So, then we begin an experiment in order to find what our king want to eat? It’s funny, but usually only some sweets (never given before!) help him to go out from that condition.
    And, I still don’t know what is it – just his nature or character.
    Such things happend at least 5 times per year.

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