My New Dog is a Fussy Eater

by Dr Gretta Howard
Practicing Veterinarian
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Find out the diet history

Acquiring a new adult dog can be particularly rewarding but remember that your dog’s previous life may affect your dog’s behaviour towards food, so the more information you can find out about their eating habits, the better. If there is a food that your dog was already comfortable eating, then it’s recommended to continue to feed the previous diet in the short term (1-2 weeks) until your dog is settled in with your family. If you do not know what he or she was fed prior to living with you, then the safest option is to start a premium quality dry food, such as Black Hawk, right from the start.

Transition slowly

Transitioning slowly to the new food is the key to success. Black Hawk recommends transitioning over 7 days, starting off with 25% of the new food for the first couple of days, then gradually increasing the portion of new food until on day 7 the food is 100% Black Hawk. This helps the body get used to digesting the new diet.

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Feed when hungry for success

While it is tempting to offer lots of high value treats as rewards for training and to create positive experiences for your new furry companion, it is a good idea to avoid treats for several hours before meal-time. This will mean that your dog is motivated to eat the food that you offer and is not too full from treats. Treats are terrific, provided they do not make up more than 10% of the diet and as mentioned, the timing is critical.

Stick to a feeding routine

Dogs love a bit of predictability in their lives, particularly when they are settling in to a new home. Try to create and stick to a routine for exercise and feeding times each day. Many pet parents prefer to offer twice daily feeding for adult dogs, as this tends to reduce the tendency for bin raids or begging for food from the table.

Location of feeding is also important. Try to feed your dog somewhere where he or she feels safe. Sometimes dogs won’t eat because they feel uncomfortable, and this can be mistaken for fussy behaviour. Feed your dog somewhere comfy and quiet, away from the main living space of the household and protected from cold weather, to set your dog up for success from the start.

Feed according to body condition

Black Hawk have a feeding guide on the side of every food packet, which makes it really easy to work out how much food to feed according to your dog’s body weight. Remember to feed for the ideal body weight (rather than actual weight) if your dog is underweight or overweight. If you’re not sure if your dog is at the ideal weight, jump online to the Black Hawk DogCheck™️ tool at or ask your vet at your next health exam.

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Avoid a smorgasbord

Try to avoid offering multiple different food options – dogs are smart and soon they will realise that something better is likely to come along if the first option is rejected!

Choose a food and give it a proper exclusive try for at least two weeks, to avoid gastro-intestinal upsets caused by constant diet changes.

Dog food may seem boring to us humans, but for a dog it’s a delicious balanced diet.

Avoid offering food from your own plate, as this can teach dogs bad table manners and set false expectations which can be confusing for dogs. Some human foods can also be unsafe for dogs and are often high in fat, which can lead to conditions such as pancreatitis.

If you’re struggling to find a food your pooch loves, try adding some wet food to your pet’s dry biscuits as a flavoursome “topper”. Black Hawk Adult Dog biscuits are already incredibly palatable, but when mixed with Black Hawk Adult Dog Wet diets, most dogs will find this delicious combination totally irresistible.

Health check

If your dog has not eaten within 24-48 hours of bringing him or her into your home, then it is time to have a veterinary health check to ensure there is no medical reason that could explain it.

Feeding a nutritionally balanced diet from the start will help give your dog the best chance for a healthy life.