It has been six days since my last post when I happily reported that Bessie had just eaten her regular meals. The situation went downhill after that. Following my brief success at confusing Bess into thinking she was being given some people food from the table, she began to turn away from dog food again. At first I sprinkled some table scraps on top of the can of dog food but then she began to eat just the table scraps and leave the dog food. I was determined to weed her off the table scraps and give her nothing but the dog food and that led up to the present crisis. To reinforce her need for regular dog food I have not given her any biscuit treats or training reward treats. This last point has made her lessons from school impossible. Without the training rewards she refuses to work. Withe the training rewards I think she spoils her appetite. I am convinced now there is something else going on besides her having some bad eating habits and tomorrow I will be taking her back to the Vet for the third time.
I am writing this post today for a different reason. There are some apparent repercussions to this crisis that may have a longer lasting effect. I have been advised by some experienced dog trainers that the simplest way to deal with the problem is the direct approach, limit her entire access to food to her meals and give her no treats, and wait until she gets hungry enough to begin eating. The other night at obedience school the instructor said she had a similar problem and after three days her dog decided she had gotten hungry enough to eat. But I am getting some uncomfortable stares from Bessie and it makes me feel she thinks I have been making her hungry on purpose. Will she blame me to the point that she will lose her trust in me and no longer want to be my best friend? Last night she got no bedtime biscuits and she did not want to sleep on my bed. How much difference is there between physically abusing a dog and in denying her food? Her food gets put in her dish and she walks over to it and sniffs it and then walks away. After 15 minutes or so I remove the food from the floor and she sees me doing this, so in her mind am I responsible taking her food away and making her hungry? In her mind am I treating her badly?
And what if there really is an, as of now, undetected medical problem? I have pored over the Internet searching for answers. I have even searched for Eating Disorders through The Merck Veterinary Manual online. The only thing I found was a one sentence teaser that said: "Dogs with hyporexia may have an anxiety disorder, and some may develop specific taste preferences and aversions that reduce what they will eat." Whatever hyporexia is, it is not explained in the manual and from what I can find the word hyporexia does not exist. But the description seems to be exactly what Bessie has, a "specific taste preferences and aversions that reduce what they will eat".
I will update the situation after speaking to our Vet tomorrow.