Cooper's been acting up lately.
He doesn't want to eat his food when we come home from work at night. It's like a chore to get him to eat, and he's NEVER been like this before.
I'm starting to wonder if this is all just a behavior thing, because he'll scarf down treats or table scraps and chew down a rawhide with no problem. So I don't believe that he's sick, or that his teeth are hurting, or anything like that.
This is the typical scenario. I will come home from work and go fill all of their bowls. Cooper will run to his bowl then just turn his nose up at it. He'll then go upstairs and drink a ton of water then want outside. I then bring him BACK downstairs and tell him to eat and he starts to tremble.
I thought for some reason that maybe he had developed some problem with the chicken flavored food that I have been giving him since the day I got him...so I went and got the same brand but beef flavored, and for a couple of days he'd scarf that right down.
Now, however, as he sits there and trembles I will switch the food that is in the bowl for the other flavor. As soon as I do that he gobbles it down. It's like he's learned that trembling will make me switch to another flavor of food and then he eats.
This is ONLY on days that we go to work when he's been in the crate all day. On our days off he's completely normal when it comes time to eat.
I'm not really worried that something's wrong with him, I'm a bit annoyed by this behavior though. I've read quite a bit online about it and it seems that dogs learn very quickly that if they "act scared" they will get a lot of attention from their owners. This is true, when Cooper was first acting scared both Cathy and I comforted him a lot. Apparently, though, after we started comforting him we reinforced this behavior and could have effectively caused him to continue to do it.
Tomorrow I'm going to try having Cathy give him his evening meal, and if he still doesn't want to eat it I'm going to bring him upstairs for an hour or so then try to feed him. If he doesn't want to eat it then, I suppose I will just start not giving him the food. I'm pretty sure that after a couple of days he'll realize he's not getting to eat and he'll give it up.
It's just really odd because he's always been so food oriented...but he's also always been a pretty strange dog. He gets his feelings hurt very easily and I sometimes wonder if he feels a bit left out. He often acts like he's a bit depressed. I worry about him...but I'm pretty sure this is just his cry for attention.
He needs to get over it. I like it better when he wolfs down his food than when I have to sit with him for five minutes while he slowly eats.
Oh yah, I should mention, this doesn't seem to be an issue for breakfast, either. Only dinner, and only on nights when we work.