Ever hand your dog a healthy treat but he wants nothing to do with it? You tease. You negotiate. You beg. You scold. But no matter what, he won’t budge. Thinking you’re clever, you may have tried hiding it in his food. But after his meal, you found that one morsel that’s different from all the rest of the crumbs, pristine and in very uneaten condition.
“Come on, you eat Everything,” you plead. “If you don’t eat this, then you’re not camping with us!” Of course, he knows you’re bluffing. Today he wins the battle, but not the war. You’re patient and time is on your side (or so you tell yourself).
We have a confession to make … only 98% of dogs love the taste of our Active Chews. But we know that our formula can help 100% of dogs who need it and we tattooed “no dog left behind” on our intern last summer. We’ve put together a list of ways to get even the most finicky eater dosed up on the healthy treats they need.
6 Tricks to Get Your Dog to Eat Health Supplements
1. The Jaws
With your non-dominant hand, grab the upper jaw with on hand to stabilize his head. With your other hand, open his mouth and place the treat as far back of the tongue as possible without gagging. Then rub the bottom of his chin and neck: this helps him swallow.
If he’s sticking his tongue out or licking his lips, it means he swallowed!
2. The Hot-Dog
You don’t have to have a schnauzer to try this one, just a food that you know he loves, such as a piece of hotdog, peanut butter, or cream cheese (this is actually very effective because dogs can’t smell through cream cheese… and it coats the stomach smoothly). Hide the healthy treat inside the food and your dog will very likely just eat it up. Don’t feel too bad about giving him human food, but try to use healthier or leaner options.
Also, it’s OK to cook the food, but don’t cook the health treat itself, because cooking kills much of the supplement’s potency. (It’s why we don’t cook Active Chews health treats).
If you insist on not feeding your dog human food, you can try pill pockets. These are really meant for medicine but can work for supplements just as well. Just note that these aren’t very cost effective.
If you’re concerned about the calories, it shouldn’t be a big deal since food amounts are small. And since your dog is an energetic, active dog, he’d be burning up those extra calories anyway!
3. The Crush and Grind
No, this isn’t about reliving your junior prom, it’s a way to sneak extra nutrition into your pup’s diet. Take the health treat and crush it into little pieces, or grind it up into an almost powder consistency. Sprinkle it all over your dog’s food. He’ll have no choice but to eat up all the nutrition you know he needs.
4. The Stealthy Smoothie
Smoothies seem to be on everyone’s lips these days (quite literally) and they don’t have to be enjoyed by just us humans. Many things we put in our smoothies can be enjoyed by our dogs as well! Here’s one recipe to try: Banana-Carrot-Peanut Butter+Health Treat Smoothie:
What you’ll need:
- 1 peeled banana (sliced)
- 1 cup of carrots (chopped)
- 2 – 3 tablespoons of peanut butter
- 1 cup of water or chicken stock
- The health treat
Using a blender, blend it all up until you get a smooth, creamy texture. And voila! Your dog will be slurping it up all those nutrients like there’s no tomorrow.
5. The Drop and Ignore
Leave the healthy treat on the floor and pretend to not know about. Act as if you have no stake in him eating it whatsoever, that you couldn’t care less. Maybe he needs some privacy before eventually giving in to his curiosity. When you’re not in the room, his natural dog instinct should take over and get him to inspect it some more. His dog-logic would deduce that the only real solution is to just gobble it up. Reverse psychology can work on dogs too!
6. The Praise
If he actually does eat that supplement for the first time, train him so that the supplement is now a part his life. Just as you trained him to sit, heel, and do his business, eating that healthy treat is just another thing you have to train him for.
So once he eats that treat, make it a celebration! Do the “good boy” voice, clap your hands, hug, kiss, or do whatever dance that signals to him that you’re proud of him. Act as if this was the greatest thing he’s ever done.
Your dog will eventually make the association between the healthy treat and human praise. Just like how you now appreciate broccoli as an adult, he’ll know that the healthy treat is good for him. He’ll learn that the initial not-so-yummy taste is a very small price to pay for him to see you so pleased and happy.
Patience is a Virtue
Remember, you’re training your dog with a new habit, so It’s important to keep the big picture in mind. It’s OK to get frustrated when he refuses to take his supplement. But don’t give up. Like many other worthwhile endeavors, it could take time and experimentation to get it right. Eventually, your dog will learn to eat healthy treats willingly without the “tricks.” You just have to be patient, consistent, and loving.