Problems With Our Adopted Cocker Spaniel
My wife and I adopted a 1 year old female cocker spaniel - she is spayed and house broken.
Unfortunately, we're having some problems with her eating habits. She has just now started to eat but will only eat her hard food if we put soft food on top of it.
She won't drink water unless she's completely alone or thinks she is.
We spent 250 dollars at Petco and she won't play with any of her toys or do anything but sleep all through the night and day. What do I do to correct this?
We want her to eat her crunchy food only but it's been proven she won't touch it unless there is soft food on it.
She will go days without eating until we put some soft food out for her.
Also, we can't train her to go through the doggy door because for some reason she's afraid of the kitchen.
Reply from Pauline (Web Owner)
I recommend you take your cocker spaniel to see her vet to get confirmation that she's healthy.
If she's having problems with her teeth, or ulcers in the mouth, she may not want to eat hard food as it may be causing her pain. Equally, she may just be being fussy, who knows? Only your vet can answer this for you.
If your vet confirms that there's nothing physically wrong with your dog I recommend trying the following.
Did you continue with the same dog food when you adopted her? She may simply not like a change in dog food.
Changing from one food to another should be carried out over a period of a couple of weeks. Add a small handful of the new food to the old and mix up, add a little more of the new and a little less of the old each day until all your dog is eating is the new food. That should work. Don't worry, your dog won't starve, when she's hungry enough she will eat.
Offer her food twice each day, for example, 8:00am and 6:00pm. Half her food allocation and split between the two meal times. If she doesn't eat her food within 15 minutes, remove it. She will learn that if she wants to eat she must do so at these times.
If she has access to fresh water every day I wouldn't worry about when or how she drinks it, so long as she drinks some water each day.
When it comes to toys, you need to teach a puppy to play, it doesn't always come naturally. Don't give her them all at once, just give her one at a time. She should have a couple in her crate to play with on her own and you should keep the rest out of her reach and only allow her to play with them when you decide it's playtime.
For more information on puppy playtime, see our Puppy Games article.
If your vet thinks that sleeping all day and all night at one year old is fine, then I wouldn't worry about it. Puppies bodies are growing at this stage and they need all the sleep they can get.
I don't think your dog is frightened of the kitchen. She's probably just wary of the dog flap. You don't say what you've done to try and get her to use the doggy flap but I would recommend trying the following:
Put your dog at one side of the flap and ask her to sit. Have your wife sit at the other side of the flap (outside at this stage) with a special treat that your dog loves. Ask your wife to encourage the dog through. If she won't budge, get your wife to give the dog the treat through the flap. What we're trying to create here is for your dog to believe only good things happen to her when she's near the flap. As she takes the treats, have your wife move slightly further away from the flap each time. Eventually your puppy will have to go through the flap to get the treat.
Once you've achieved that you can do the same from the other side.
Dog training needs time, effort and patience, so please take your time and don't expect your puppy to know what you want from her straight away.