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Help - Dog is afraid of dishes

January 5th, 2005, 12:58 PM
My parents have a Pom that will not eat from a dish and will only drink when you hold a glass of water to her. I know everyone says a dog will not starve itself to death, but she will go days without eating and will drink from the sprinkler water when she gets too thristy. She got very ill once from drinking the stagnet water left in the yard and I don't want that to happen again. She will eat food if it's left on the floor, but if you put a dish out no matter how good the smell is she won't eat it. We put filet mignon on a plate once and she just barked at it, but wouldn't get close. If you walk up and touch the piece of food then she'll eat it, if you hold the dish she'll eat. But left to her own devices we don't want to find out how long she'll go, but we know at least 4 days. She wasn't always like this. She was fine as a pup. We noticed after being dog sat by a firend at their home that she had stopped eating and drinking. She also will not step foot in the kitchen. There has been no trauma at home to cause this, no other pets, no kids, and no kennel boarding, just the one stay at the friends house and now we have a 3 year old dog that hasn't eaten from a dish since she was 1. Any suggestions that don't involve trainers, my parents don't believe in hiring help for their dog.

January 5th, 2005, 01:22 PM
It sounds like something set her off, but then people have reinforced it by catering to her. There might be something about you touching the food or dish which helps her to feel safe. Could a mouse have ever darted out from under or behind a dish and scared her?
Are you set on her using a doggie dish or is any plate or bowl okay? does she have issues with all dishes?
I would put the food as close to the dish as possible so that she feels safe enough to go near and eat. Each day I would slink the dish closer to the food until she can eat the food when it is beside the dish. From there I would feed her with some food next to the dish and some food in the dish and gradually add more and more until the food is all in the dish. Essentially, you are desensitizing her to the dish.
Another way to go, is to teach her the release word 'okay'. This means that she is free to do as she pleases or to stop performing a direction you gave her. I would have her perform some tricks before she eats while you are holding the bowl of food and then place it down, put her in a 'sit/stay' and when she looks into your eyes, say "okay, let's eat". Sometimes a dog is more willing to eat when she has worked for it - plus she will see that you touched the bowl and might feel safer about approaching it.
It is an odd situation, but I do believe that a dog will not starve herself. So you could see if day 5 is the trick and she is hungry enough to be brave.

January 5th, 2005, 01:40 PM
Very sound advice and bottom line I do not believe that a dog would stop eating from dishes or go into a room, unless they have had some trauma which probably happened while she was with friends. Things like this do not develop over one weekend unless something happened. I hope you never leave this dog or any dog with them again.

January 5th, 2005, 01:48 PM
have you tried a clear glass plate, meaning one she can see the floor through. We have a shihtzu in our care that it took a long time to figure out he was not happy with being unable to see through the plate. May work?

January 6th, 2005, 10:57 AM
No we don't care what she eats from. My mom would prefer to put the food in some sort of dish rather than on the floor as we have been, but the water has to be in something. You can't put water on the floor (safely). We've tried all sorts of dishes, plates, bowls, place mats, etc. We've tried clear dishes, dark dishes, metal dishes, soft travel dishes, plates, cups, glasses etc. We've tried it all. She just won't get near any of it on her own. When she's at the vacation house she'll drink from the george foreman grease catcher thing (clean of course with water in it) and she'll eat her food from a coffee filter of all things, but if you try these things at home she won't have any part of it. She doesn't have any sort of eating schedule though so this may play a huge part in it. The problem though isn't that she won't eat, she eats fine, in fact she's kind of fat. The problem is the fear of the dish.
I don't think a mouse or other creature would have appeared anywhere near her food at home, I couldn't speak for the situation at the friends house as I've never been there. I suppose it's possible. I know there were children there and they were feeding her by hand from what I heard. I know this caused a problem, but could a day of being fed like this really cause a problem so huge?

Thank you for your help.

January 6th, 2005, 11:53 AM
Sometimes stainless steel bowls bother dogs when there tags bang against the bowl. There have been other instances on this board (and at my house) where the dog would not eat because of the dog tags hitting the bowl.... I don't know if this might pertain to you??

January 6th, 2005, 01:06 PM
I took her collar off to test that theory and nope, although she likes having her collar off and it made her very happy, it did not encourage proper eating habits. Thanks for the suggestion though.