The decision to switch your dog to a raw diet is an exciting one.

Let’s be honest, you’re pretty pumped.

You’re enthusiastic and empowered because you know the truth about commercial dog food. You’ve done the research. You know the benefits. You know what to expect and you’re prepared.

You’re excited to be feeding a true ancestral diet to your furry friend because he’s going to be healthier and happier. He’s going to be the epitome of health, what any dog should be – he’s going to be a primal pooch!

Dog with bowl in mouth

Photo credit: Fuzzy Gerdes via Flickr

Next thing you know, you’re standing there, scratching your head saying , “WTF” because your dog isn’t even remotely interested in the awesome raw meal in font of him. He takes a few sniffs, gives you a weird look and walks away.

Now what?

Don’t be discouraged, this happens to many new raw feeders! The problem is that your dog just doesn’t know what to do with it. He’s eaten commercial, processed pet food his whole life and his new raw meal looks and smells quite different.

Did you know kibble is sprayed with fat and other substances to make it more appealing for your dog?  Raw food has little odor compared to kibble. Initially, your dog may not realize this is food.

How do you deal with this?

There are basically two ways: patience and  the use of a few disguises.

The old adage, “picky eaters aren’t born, they’re created” applies in this situation. Some dogs will wolf down anything while others are more picky. Most dogs become picky eaters out of habit, mostly because their owners allow them to.

Patience and a Little Bit of Tough Love….

It’s important that you be extremely patient when making the switch. Once you’ve put the raw meal in front of your dog, walk away. Let him figure it out. Give him about 15 minutes or so. If he hasn’t eaten it yet, simply (without emotion) pick it up and put it away.

Provide it again at the next meal. If your dog still refuses, continue this process until he or she caves in and decides to eat it.

Don’t worry, you’re dog will not die. No dog will intentionally starve itself. When they get hungry enough, they’ll eat it.  I think the longest I’ve heard of a dog refusing to eat is around ten days. Now this is the extreme and is probably not likely for most dogs. I’d guess the average to be anywhere from 1-3 days.

Now, whatever you do, don’t give in and don’t provide other food in the meantime! No training treats, table scraps, rawhide, or other dogs chews or treats. If you provide something else, it will take longer for your dog to cave in.

Many people try to feed raw for a day or two, then give up because they feel bad depriving their dogs. You’re not depriving you dog.  You’re providing food to your furry friend, it’s he who is choosing NOT to eat it.

What you’re doing here is reinstating your position in the pack. You’re the alpha and you tell your dog when and what to eat. Your dog doesn’t get to decide what he or she eats – if he does, then he wins and you lose. He also doesn’t get to decide when it’s time to eat by barking, whining, or pestering you.

This tough love will teach your dog to follow the rules of the house. If you can win this battle and be respected as the leader of the house during feeding times, your dog will continue to show you respect in other areas.

Another crucial tip to remember is NOT to make a fuss if you’re dog doesn’t eat. Don’t coax him into eating. Don’t throw fearful or nervous energy out there. Don’t baby talk him and provide love and affection. If you do so, you’re just reinforcing his uncertainty about the new food and letting him know it’s okay to refuse his meals. On the other hand, you’re not punishing him either. You’re just staying calm, neutral, and indifferent.

All you can do is be strong and trust that your dog will not starve himself.

The only exceptions to the tough love rule:

Specific dogs or breeds that can develop or already have low blood sugar or other serious pre existing health conditions. And puppies. These dogs shouldn’t go without food for more than 24 hours.I would consult with your holistic veterinarian to see how long you can safely withhold food.

Above all, make sure you have a strong support system.

Lean on other raw feeders or ask the advice of those that have been there before. Don’t known any other raw feeders? No worries, use this list to find online forums, groups, and Facebook groups you can join.

 A Few Raw Food Disguises, Tips & Tricks

I happen to be with the tough love methodology.

However, if you’re having trouble with this or want to try some other options, there are a few simple things you can do to food to entice your dog to eat.

  • Sprinkle a little parmesan cheese on top
  • Add low sodium chicken or beef broth
  • Lightly sear the meat (only if it’s boneless – do NOT do any cooking, no matter how light, to meat with bone in it). Once your dog eats the meat you can try giving it to him raw next time or wean him onto the raw meat by searing it less and less each time. Cooking you’r dog’s food is not ideal but if you do it for a day or two until he accepts raw, it won’t cause any harm.
  • Sprinkle a little garlic salt on top

For those  concerned about the safety of garlic read this and this. Garlic received a bad rap after a study demonstrated garlic could cause oxidative damage to red blood cells – but in excessive amounts. Based on the study, you’d need to feed 5 full heads of garlic to a 75lb dog before showing any adverse effect on red blood cells. Remember: everything in nature has the potential be toxic is certain amounts. Garlic in moderation has a large list of health benefits. But if it makes you uneasy, try something else as a topper instead.

Most people successfully feed chicken at first – anywhere from two to four weeks before trying a different protein. It seems to be the meat of choice for dogs new to raw because it’s easily digestible and doesn’t cause stomach upset.

If you’re dog eats one day then doesn’t eat again, it could mean you’re changing up the meals too quickly. Let him get used to a particular protein for at least two weeks before trying a new one.

What kind of raw diet are you feeding?

  • Premade raw dog food
  • Homemade Prey Model Diet
  • Homemade BARF Diet

If one isn’t enticing your dog to eat, try another.

The point here is to get your dog used to eating any kind of raw. You can always adjust the format later. This is exactly what I did with my dog. I fed him commercial raw food for a few weeks then switched over to a homemade raw diet without any issue.

Some dogs may be more apt to eating ground mixes with other ingredients like fruits and vegetables first. Other’s won’t. The only way to know is to try.

Above all, Hang in There!

Remember, dogs can become addicted to junk food just like we can.

As a pet parent, you are in control of your dog’s health. Our dogs don’t live in the wild making decisions based on instinct anymore. They live in our modern world and don’t necessarily know what’s best for them.

It’s your duty to be a firm pet parent and feed food that is healthful. Please comment below and share any tips or tricks you’ve used when first switching your dog to raw.



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Comments (60)

  • toms

    You write very well!

    Reply to toms
    • Amy Marshall

      Thank you, glad you’re enjoying the blog!

      Reply to Amy
      • Barbara

        My pit is VERY picky with his raw diet. He will eat beef with no bones. He did eat a chicken foot today. To make matters worse my husband thinks processed dog food is superior because the makers know what they are doing unlike myself.(He would make a great advocate for dog food companies). Our other 2 a lab/pit mix and a Roosevelt terrier who is 7 or 8 yrs old LOVES the raw food and if the other one happens to accidently drop a piece she is there to swoop it up…I guess I’m just needed a little support since I’m the one standing firm on the raw.

        Reply to Barbara
        • Amy Marshall

          Hey Barbara, thanks for commenting! Feel free to contact me and I can help. Have you tried premade raw dog food? Perhaps your husband would be more comfortable with that route since it’s complete and balanced. All premade raw dog food has to meet AAFCO standards.

          Reply to Amy
      • Lynne Lapp

        Hi Amy, I too have a picky lab. She has always been pretty picky…even before I started feeding her raw food. She doesn’t even seem to be hungry at times so I am going to try feeding her 1x a day. Question: I have read various things about raw feeding….some say to give them bones (chicken and turkey) and some say not too. What do you recommend?

        Reply to Lynne
        • Amy Marshall

          Hi Lynne, sorry for the super long delay here! Your comment got lost among all the spam. You need to be providing bone (or a bone replacement) in your dog’s diet. Bone satisfies important calcium requirements. If you skip the bone (or a bone replacement) your dog could become deficient in calcium. I have a bone post in the works that should be out soon covering this in more detail. Hang tight!

          Reply to Amy
  • AT


    came across your post and thought you might provide me with some suggestion with my picky boy (8years, mini schnauzer, not food motivator since young) He has been on raw for almost a year now, and i have to admit it was really tough at first but things were going better until recently after he came back from my aunt’s place for a short stay, he started refusing raw all over again! i provided my aunt with his raw meat but he didnt eat much during his stay. So i thought maybe he wasnt comfortable being away from us and he will be back on track after he got home but i was totally wrong! I usually give him a timeframe of 5mins before removing his bowl for the next meal time. No baby talk, no treats inbetween. For the past one month, he will go without food for 2-3days and will only take a few bites and stopped eating. And back to no food for a few days. The cycle goes on. He is lean and has lost around 2 pound over this month.

    What should i do? I really love the benefit of raw feeding but he is driving me crazy.
    Please help!

    *Other dogs of mine are doing very well though.

    Reply to AT
    • Amy Marshall

      Dogs are smart, eating raw food is more work for them, and they can get addicted to the taste of commercially prepared food. Put that all together with a smart little guy like your Mini-Schnauzer, and your story does not surprise me. Forgive me if I am wrong, but perhaps when your boy was at your aunt’s he was able to manipulate her into giving him kibble, or dog biscuits, or some other kind of prepared food? In the wild, canids readily survive if they don’t eat for days, as long as they have access to water. It sounds to me that you are doing the right thing by not babying him, not giving him treats, and not making a fuss over him not eating. Also, sometimes raw fed dogs are known to self-regulate their food intake. We humans don’t like to skip any meals, but sometimes dogs will let us know they aren’t hungry. How many times a day are you feeding him? Does he get enough exercise?

      If he were my dog, I would: feed him once a day; leave the food for him approximately 5 minutes, and then put the food away in the refrigerator until it was time for the next feeding 24 hours later; make sure he has water to drink, and gets enough exercise to help him be interested in eating. I have heard of this happening to other dog owners, and when they follow the tips above, the situation resolves and the dogs stop the picky eating behavior. Feel free to contact me with additional questions and we can refer you to one of our carnivore nutrition consultants – [email protected]

      Reply to Amy
    • Dee young

      I am a newcomer to the raw food diet for my dogs and have had to experiment with each one’s personality and preferences..( one likes likes chicken) and each has a different metabolism..your dog might not need to eat every day..the food is so clean he might not get hungry for awhile..and losing weight might not necessarily be a bad thing..he may be losing fat and gaining muscle! Don’t give up!

      Reply to Dee
  • John

    Hi Amy, I just found your blog through your good article on It seems like the alignment between primal/paleo human diet and appropriate food for pets should be obvious…

    The reason I’m writing to comment is that lots of articles, like yours above, seem to make the assumption that the dog is going to eat whatever you put out right away, and then if not, you take the food away and present it again at some other time. That hasn’t been our experience with raw-feeding our dog. And it seems to me like it would be burdensome to always have to be an active participant in feeding the dog on a schedule.

    Our dog does not have “mealtimes” and is generally self-feeding. We leave a bowl of grain-free kibble out at all times, but she eats very little of it. She gets a fair amount of primal table scraps, which includes lots of butter, cream, gristle, cooked and raw meat trimmings, raw bones, cooked bones (not poultry!), and some vegetables (some she eats, most she avoids unless they have a lot of butter on them). And she gets raw meaty bones, mostly turkey necks. She probably eats about 3 of these every two weeks (she weighs about 20 lbs. or so).

    We’ve fed her this way since she was a puppy. One thing that has remained consistent is that she never eats the turkey necks right away. She always lets them age at least a few days and up to a week or more. If we took the raw meaty bones away if she didn’t eat them right away, I’m not sure if she’d ever get to eat them. The downside of this is having a nasty turkey neck lying around the yard. The upside is we don’t have to worry about when or how much to feed her, she eats when she’s hungry. (The other upside is that she’s lean, fit, healthy, and has beautiful teeth.)

    To me, the way she eats these turkey necks matches my understanding of how wolves often eat in the wild. They get a windfall – catch a large prey animal or claim a carcass – eat until they’re full, and then don’t eat much of anything for the next several days.

    Are we the only ones whose dog ages her raw meaty bones before eating them?

    Reply to John
    • Amy Marshall

      Hi John, thanks for sharing! While I agree with you on some fronts, I don’t typically recommend some of the items you’re feeding. Let me explain :) A common misconception is that the Paleo/Primal Diet for people is the same for dogs, this unfortunately isn’t true. What’s the same is the principle behind the diet – that it looks to an ancestral diet to feed foods that are genetically appropriate and foods that are the natural diet for the animal.

      A true ancestral diet for the dog (based on what their ancestor the wolf ate) is that of raw meats, raw bones, organs and other raw offal. I don’t advise feeding kibble but for those that choose to feed it, I generally don’t recommend mixing kibble with raw foods since they have different digestion times and can cause an upset stomach and irregular potty schedule. I also don’t recommend dairy (it’s a personal call) since dairy isn’t something a wild animal consumes past birth and isn’t something wolves, or any other wild animal, eats regularly. The other thing that worries me is the feeding of any cooked bones. While I agree that poultry bones are more concerning, any cooked bones have the potential to splinter which could cause intestinal perforations or other issues. Raw bones are more pliable and easily digested and are usually a safer bet.

      As far as eating raw food, when it’s presented, I don’t assume dogs will eat what you put out in front of them right away. Many people encounter this issue, so you’re definitely not alone! I would check out this post to learn more. It’s usually boils down to a behavioral thing. The dog isn’t used to the food yet and is unsure what it is or they’re used to governing what they eat. In my opinion, as the pack leader, you need to teach them that you dictate their meals :)

      In regards to your question about the burying of food. It’s not uncommon. Wild canines may bury a surplus of food, and return to it later. In the wild, wolves will gorge on big prey and then may fast for several days, until the pack catches its next prey. There are raw feeders who follow this BFFLO (big food fed less often) model. Since your dog is not eating the turkey necks when they are presented, it would appear she has more than enough to eat. If you’re concerned about the turkey necks in the yard, I would consider putting away any food she doesn’t eat right away and holding it until the next meal (without providing anything else to eat in between). After a few days or even up to a week of this, she should start eating when you feed her, assuming you want to feed her on a schedule.

      Dogs have very strong stomach acid that can handle aged rotting foods, which is part of what makes them such successful scavenger carnivores. So, while I have not personally heard of any other dogs doing the same thing, this is not an unknown behavior and shouldn’t be something to worry about. I think it just boils down to what you prefer and what works for your dogs, your schedule, and your lifestyle. I hope I’ve been able to provide a little insight and help on this question!

      Reply to Amy
  • debra sanders

    oh wow! I just found this post, which answers my big question in the other post (sorry I wrote before seeing this!). I will definitely try some of these ideas! thank you so much, Amy!

    Reply to debra
  • Martha

    Hi Amy,

    I started my dog (a 15-pound, 12-year-old mini poodle) on a raw diet about a month ago. I have been buying the Bravo frozen mixes. She took to the raw food immediately and loves it. I’d like to get away from the mix, but I don’t know what to give her. I perused the supermarket today and didn’t see any organ meat. I’ve gotten information from other websites while trying to learn about this diet. One said to give raw meaty bones, but what kind of raw meaty bones? Muscle meat with fat? What kind of muscle meat with fat? Do I buy a fatty piece of steak, cut it up, and give it to her? I gave her a serving of salt-free sardines this morning and she loved that. My main concern is that she won’t eat chicken wings. I gave her one for the first time a week ago, and she licked it and then walked away from it with her tail between her legs. I left it out for about an hour and she stayed far away from it. I just offered her another one and she’s tried to eat it (I heard some crunching sounds), but still no luck. (Right now she’s lying on the floor sleeping next to the chicken wing.) I am very concerned about this because I know they need to eat the bones for the calcium and the exercise. Should I try what you suggested about denying her food until she eats the chicken wings? I don’t know what to do if she continues to refuse the chicken. About the kind of meat, can I buy various ground meats and just mix them together? Steak chunks? Anything in the meat department? The more information I find, the more confused I get. I’m pretty much set against returning her to the kibbles. (She doesn’t miss it.) I would be so grateful for any guidance you can offer.

    Reply to Martha
  • Jan

    My dog has been eating raw for six months,ground meat,bones, offal with chicken backs and turkey necks for treats. No problem, loved it, now he is not interested at all, except for chicken backs and necks. No idea what to do, have tried duck, beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, fish….nothing.

    Reply to Jan
  • Shakeera Mohamad

    First of all I would like to say great post. I have a 5lb Shih Tzu/Bichon Frise who is 10 months. When we first got him we started him on raw and he loved it for about 2 months and then he just stopped eating it. So we switched him over to dehydrated vegetables mixed with cooked meat and dehydrated raw (Stella and Chewy’s). We alternate between the two right now and while he eats, he is far from being crazy about food. I would like to get him back to a complete raw diet and will be doing the tough love approach. My question to you is when do you reintroduce treats and dog chews?

    Reply to Shakeera
  • Ralph

    My 7 month old GSD, Wulf, has been raw fed for about 3 months. Oddly he won’t take the raw meat out of my hand. Cooked meat, no problem. So I put it in his bowl and he will come up and daintily take the meat from the bowl and take it out to the yard to eat it, even in the rain. It’s funny, I can chase him around holding a chicken leg.

    He’s about 25 kilos or more now and very trim and active. In the morning he gets a chicken leg quarter and a quarter of a chicken carcass that I have roughly chopped into fourths. Either that or some chicken innards.usually he eats both but some times just the carcass, he likes that the best. In the evening I give him a third of a piece of pork belly and a half of a big pork rib bone.two or three times a week I substitute a can of mackerel or sardine for his fish oil.

    He is funny though he always will take the raw stuff to the yard and never take it from my hand. Positives, healthy shiny coat, bright white teeth. He has stopped chewing himself s of much and really minimized the puppy cep everything instinct, now that he has to work to chew his dinner. I leave it there about a half hour and I will pick it up for tomorrow. He also doesn’t mind if it’s half frozen. Actually seems to prefer it. Negatives, the vet thought I was crazy and that he might get parasites. Hey this is human grade food if you are worried about parasites look at what he puts in his mouth everyday. In the end I understood his advice for what it was as I looked at the wall full of Pedigree products.

    Reply to Ralph
  • Natalie

    This page has made me feel so much better ! I am currently trying to switch my 2 dogs to RAW diet – I tried about a year ago and I’m ashamed to say I gave in and went back to Dry. I have a Husky X GSD & Husky X Akita. I have done quite a bit of reading and spoken to fellow RAW feeders before making the leap again. I ordered lots of Chicken / Turkey with bone content ( thinking this is the best way to start ) Some beef, Turkey necks and a couple of whole rabbits. I am 1 week in and was really starting to worry as they just seem to be turning their noses up at it – They have now started to eat the Beef – and 1 has shown he LOVES heart but they still won’t touch the chicken or turkey?! I am concerned that they need to have a variety including offal – Will they eventually eat the chicken & Turkey too ?? I haven’t tackled the whole rabbits yet either! Your page has given me the boost I need to keep at it though – so thank you!

    Reply to Natalie
  • Tawna Renee

    I have had my GSP Diesel for 4 years now. When I first adopted him he was 28lbs., severely malnourished and ill. For 3 years, I struggled to put weight on him, because he was a picky eater, and he often got an upset stomach after he ate (vomiting and diarrhea). I tried every dry and canned food, and finally caved after years of people scrutinizing me for my dogs emancipated appearance. He had reached 50lbs at this point, but still looked very thin and often suffered from allergies, which caused hair loss and lethargy, among other unsightly issues. I started by searing boneless steaks, chicken thighs and pork chops. He happily devoured the meat, and eventually I grew tired of cooking meals for my family and dog, so I tough loved him and started feeding entirely raw. I give him individual ribs of lamb (bone in), boneless stew beef (he had issues digesting beef bone – would vomit them up), boneless pork loins, skin-on bone-in turkey legs and skin-on bone-in 1/4 fryer chickens (I attempted feeding him chicken liver and turkey giblets, and ground meats but he always rejects them). At first he rejected the raw meat, for about 4 days, but I stuck to it, and MY GOODNESS has he made a complete turnaround! He now weighs 70lbs, his coat is full and brilliant, his teeth are impeccable, his poops are tiny and relatively odorless, he has stopped itching and all digestive issues have entirely vanished. I could not be happier with the results I have seen, and we just adopted our second dog, an English Pointer named Blu. He suffers from allergies, diarrhea, car sickness, lack of appetite, and skin issues. We started him on raw 3 days ago, and at first he rejected it. On day 2, he caved when I hand-fed him steak chunks – he refused chicken and pork. He still has not eaten chicken, but he happily at the pork and beef today. He is severely underweight, I would say he needs to gain about 15lbs minimum. I look forward to rehabbing Blu as I did with Diesel, on the raw diet. So far, his diarrhea, skin redness, eye discharge, itchy ears, and car sickness have already improved. GO RAW!!!

    Reply to Tawna
  • Mary Lou

    I started feeding my 7 month old Havanese raw a couple of weeks ago. I started by just blending a couple of raw chicken thighs, a small sweet potato and a little broccoli and carrot. He loved it and gobbled it up. That lasted a few days. I then bought some Bravo chicken and beef patties. He wouldn’t touch the chicken. He walked around it with some kind of ritual by sticking his nose in it and then the floor all around the bowl like he was trying to bury it. I then gave him the beef and he ate it ok for a couple of days then walked away. So I decided to go out and buy fresh chicken and turkey and spent the whole day preparing the food with veggies and fruit. He just looked and walked away not eating for 2 days. Then I caved and put some canned salmon on it (the chicken) and he ate it. Was that a bad idea? Should I go back to the tuff love? By the way I loved your site. I didn’t feel like I was alone.

    Reply to Mary
    • Neiya

      I am a concerned pet parent. My shih tzu poodle mix is passing bloody stool after he eats bones. I tried using egg shells instead of bones to provide calcium. Bones also makes stool firmer. For a few days I stopped feeding bone because he wasn’t digesting it well. I found a large intact piece of chiken wing bone on one occasion. On another occasion, I found bone shards. I stopped feeding bones when his stool became bloody. I just fed boneless meat for a few days. His stool return to normal but it took some time. Unfortunately, his stool started getting too soft again-too soft. It didn’t firm up immediately after I started introducing chicken wings again. I added more bone to remedy this and now his stool is bloody again. I just bought digestive enzymes and probiotic combo product. I also am planning to feed chicken backs and neck. I feed turkey necks. Any other suggestions to make the transition easier?

      Reply to Neiya
  • Kim Chapman

    Hi there, I saw your post and I wanted to know if you had any advice. I have 2 dogs. a JRT cross and a Chihuahua Boston Terrier cross. I have switched them both on to raw. My JRT has switched over no problem. Loving her new diet, however the Chihuahua is refusing to eat. We are going on 4 days now and she wont touch it. I have tried chicken, triple mix, offal and I have also tried mixing some canned food in with the raw. She picked out the canned food and left the raw. I am worried that this is 4 days now and she isn’t eating. She is still drinking water. Any suggestions on how to get her to eat. I also tried the chicken broth….didn’t work either. HELP!!!

    Reply to Kim
    • Neiya

      Did you try hand feeding. I think dogs feel special when fed by hand. Lol. They are more likely to eat something they don’t want when fed by hand. Sometimes dogs get confused when they are introduced to raw. Maybe if she can see your other dog eating raw she would eat too. Just supervise them, dogs might eat faster if there are other dogs around. You can even try putting them in their separate crates in view of each other. This should reduce anxiety concerning food being stolen. Once she is eating out of your hand, you can slowly put the meat in the bowl. I suggest waiting until she takes about three bites first.

      Reply to Neiya
    • Brigitte

      Hi ,
      I red your post are you still feeding raw? I bought a meat grinder that crushes bones like bone in chicken thighs , leg and wings . This was my worries I have a gulper and the other day there was a piece of bone on the floor with some throw up ..I don’t feel comfortable to feed bone in meat just because he swallow everything so fast I sure don’t want him to get hurt by it. So I bought a bone and meat grinder and I grind the bone with meat .. it’s less stressful , cleaner and he gets all the calcium he needs .

      Reply to Brigitte
  • maya

    hi! I am about to start raw feeding, and I’ve bought chicken and turkey (i’m not planning on only feeding chicken and turkey for her whole life, those are just what i’m planning to start out with). I have 2 concerns ~ since she’s a pomeranian, I’m afraid she won’t eat/like the bones. She’s always been picky, and eating only muscle meat cannot be nutritionally complete for her!!! should I just take away the remainder after 15 minutes, and only offer her the bone she hasn’t finished from her last meal in her next meal?

    and secondly, if she doesn’t like raw at all, I read what you said about the tough love, but can I offer chunks of the raw food as training treats (provided she eats them)?

    thanks for any help you can give!

    Reply to maya
    • Neiya

      You can try egg shells instead of feeding bones. Grind it into a powder form. Bake shells for 10 minutes after preheating oven or toaster oven. Then crush and grind them using coffee grinder or any other appliance that would have the same results. I did this by hand and it’s a bit challenging and time consuming that way. I read it’s good for people too! You could go on YouTube for turtorials.

      Reply to Neiya
  • Gem Mullings

    My two dogs started on raw today.. One has taken to it perfectly, the other is point blank refusing. I have been gearing myself up all week to face the potential of food refusal but now I’m there I am quite emotional about it. I feel it is so unfair for a dog that loved his kibble to suddenly find himself in the situation of not wanting to eat because of my decision. However, I’m not going to cave in as I’ve decided raw is best for him and that’s final… but I think I will struggle if he doesn’t start eating his meals regularly once he has caved into the first meal. I think it’s hard because he is underweight, I’ve spent the last three months working so hard with him to get 2 kgs on him as he is so active, I don’t want him to loose that again!!

    Reply to Gem
  • Paul

    Hi there.

    My bullmastiff pup has been eating raw now for 3 weeks. He has only been eating chicken to get him started however it is not going smoothly at all. His stools are very loose and sloppy. Going to the toilet at night (which he didn’t do before). Today there was a little bit of blood in his poo.
    How long does the transition take? Could my pup just not be compatable with raw?

    Reply to Paul
  • Dave and Andry

    We started 2 days ago with barf diet, we had been working on making the transition for over a month… two days ago when we started my two dogs ate everything in a few seconds… but next day they werent interested… we got worried because yesterday they didnt eat, in fact one of them throw up. I followed your “Raw Food Disguises, Tips & Tricks”and the ate everything… lets see how it goes… thanks a lot for what your doing! We really appreciate it!

    Reply to Dave
  • Chelsea

    So glad I stumbled upon your post! I’ve been trying out the Prey Model diet for a few days on my two dogs. Daisy, my Lhasa Apso, will not eat the beef liver or turkey heart! Two essentials, I know. Also, both of my dogs will not eat the duck feet (bone with some meat on it). Any tips on how to get them to eat the bone? As a result of no bone, they’ve been having diarrhea.

    Reply to Chelsea
  • Chelsea

    My dogs refuse to eat duck feet (bone with some meat on it) as well as beef liver and turkey heart. Any advice on how to get them to eat? It’s frustrating and causing diarrhea.

    Reply to Chelsea
  • Deb Florea

    Thank you for your insight! I came here in search of help for my picky beagle, who I was getting very frustrated with. Your advice reinforced my sentiments about the process!

    Reply to Deb
    • Amy Marshall

      Glad to hear that Deb and hope things are working more smoothly for you now :)

      Reply to Amy
  • Anda

    Thanks for this encouraging article! I just got a 10-week Vizsla puppy and I started her on raw the very next day after bringing her home. During the first week I gave her a meal of puppy kibble in the morning (just to make sure she is getting some nutrients and vitamins) and the next two meals I gave her chicken wings (chopped, so that she can chew them). The problem is that she is not a big eater, besides she seems to have ADD (lol!) She can’t concentrate on eating or doing anything consistently, so she will eat some and then go away and start doing something else. I tried to lock her in her cage with the food, but it doesn’t help. So I ended up by hand-feeding her. Although she eats more this way, she still doesn’t eat enough. The breeder told me to feed her 4 times a day at this age and she is not eating but two times a days (barely!) At this rate she will end up deprived of the nutrients she needs for growing. Do you have any advise for me? I’d appreciate that.

    Reply to Anda
  • Joanna

    We just rescued a 2 y/o Great Pryenees who is severely underweight (77 lbs). We feed our other dogs raw so we want him in a raw diet also. They get a ground mixture of muscle,bone,organ and fruits & veggies. It will be better for him and feel he will put on his weight and develope muscle better. He was on kibble and was not even remotely interested in the bowls of the raw fed dogs. He refuses to eat today and will just drink water. We can’t withhold the water as his urine is extremely dark and string smelling. The vet said he just needs to drink more water since he was most likely dehydrated ( was found roaming TX after wandering away from his home). He is otherwise healthy. I agree with the tough love approach but worry since he is so malnourished to begin with he is probably used to that hungry feeling. How long should I continue the tough love. We have put salmon oil on this food which has an odor. Was considering some bone broth to entice him.

    Reply to Joanna
  • clarisse crean

    hi i am looking for advise I have a french bulldog he is 1 year old I had him on raw meat before but the supplier stopped supplying so I had to move him to chicken(4weeks+) until I could find a reliable supplier , Which I have I have put him back on raw meat (beef minced) its been 24hours and he still hasnt ate, he has been sick a few times and it looks like boil, Im not sure what to do should I be worried?

    Reply to clarisse
    • Amy Marshall

      Hi Clarisse, it’s hard to decipher what’s going on or make any kind of guesses based off of your comment alone. I suggest giving your vet a call to be safe :-)

      Reply to Amy
  • Sharon Moore

    I have 3 German Shepherds. Almost 7 year old mom (Georgia) and 18 month old brother (Arnold) and sister (Randa). We finally made the switch to raw because Arnold was very underweight. He would eat one day, the next he wouldn’t or very little. And Randa has terrible allergies. I have researched feeding raw many times over the years because Georgia has some allergies and the limited ingredient foods the vet recommended didn’t help.
    I started out with chicken, as all the websites have suggested. They wouldn’t eat it so my husband would feed them commercial kibble. He refused to let them go without eating. I gave that food away and told him to stay out of it. Arnold quickly starting eating chicken but after a couple days stopped. The girls would not touch it. They were eventually given pork chops. The girls loved it. Arnold eventually ate it. Then, I discovered that Georgia will eat a chicken leg if most of the skin and meat are cut off. I have also added liver and chicken heart and gizzards (only Arnold will eat), Salmon (only the girls eat), beef, beef heart, and lamb (all eat). However, Arnold continues his old habits and my husband insists on giving them whatever they want to eat.
    Then I came across your troubleshooting. My husband still didn’t agree but he was preparing to be gone for a month deer and elk hunting so I thought it was the perfect time to try starting over with your “tough love” and food disguises. And switching my daughters dogs (another sister, a lab and a pitbull) that I am caring for while hunting.
    At the start, my daughter’s dogs gobbled it up without hesitation. None of mine would touch the chicken. After a couple days I tried the Parmesan cheese. Arnold ate all his and a piece of Randa’s. Georgia ate most of hers. Randa only ate a piece that Georgia left. Shortly after, Randa threw it up and her and Arnold re-ate it. The next day I tried the cheese again. They wouldn’t touch it except to lick the cheese off. Then I tried the beef broth. They only licked the broth. I added cheese to that. Arnold ate most, Georgia ate about half and Randa licked the cheese. Tonight, after they all refused to eat with the cheese on it, I lightly seared (it was mostly raw) the boneless chicken and gave it all back to them. Arnold ate all of it, Georgia and Randa only ate the seared meet not the raw bone-in.
    At this point, Arnold still has not put on any weight and Randa has lost weight. Since none of them ate a full meal but did eat chicken, I gave them each a large pork chop. Arnold wouldn’t eat it but the girls devoured it and wanted more.
    My plan is to continue to sear boneless chicken, using the cheese as necessary and giving Georgia a leg with partial meat/skin. After they’ve eaten it, I will add other meats, organs, etc that I know they like to round out their meal. And, use some of the same tricks to add in what they haven’t been willing to eat.

    Does this sound good to you? Or do you have any other suggestions?

    As a side note, Arnold and Randa eat in crates. Our 3rd crate doesn’t have a door but will be addressed after hunting is over. If successful, the hunters have been instructed to bring back organ meat. There is none available in this tiny town except for what I have mentioned above.

    Thank you for the help.

    Reply to Sharon
    • Sharon Moore

      Update: I seared the boneless chicken again for all 3 dogs. This time a little less. I also gave Georgia a raw leg and Arnold a raw breast. Both with cheese on it. Arnold ate all. Georgia ate what was seared and left the leg. Randa didn’t eat. I gave Arnold Georgia’s leg but he wouldn’t eat it. I then seared Randa’s meat a little longer as well as meat I cut off the leg. Randa still wouldn’t eat but Georgia finished off the raw leg bone and the seared leg meat. I seared Randa’s a little more and that did the trick. I gave them each a pork chop. Again, the girls ate it but Arnold did not, until I put cheese on it. He has always been hit and miss no matter what he is fed or how long he has been eating it.

      Reply to Sharon
    • Amy Marshall

      Hi Sharon – don’t give any cooked/seared meat to your dog with bones. Raw meaty bones (RMBs) should only be served raw. Feel free to email me, it’s hard to follow along with this via the comments area – [email protected]

      Reply to Amy
    • Brigitte

      Hi ,
      I started my dog on raw feeding 3 months ago he loves it. I never give cheese but I started this recipe on planet paws . I changed it a bit made it better with all the reading I have been doing . This raw feeding is so complex . I freeze pork for 2 weeks before adding it to my dog’s diet . I just play safer . I grind the turkey legs, wings or thighs in my meat grinder . I don’t give bones anymore it was way to messy and he would swallow to fast . He gets all is calcium from this . I get beef tip roast some cubed and grounded. I buy my offal and organs through a company it’s shipped to my house and I go to the butcher. I mix it in batches , weigh it freeze it . I don’t buy the food already made I want to do it myself just because I know what’s in it . I give and egg every other day add some bone broth I made myself freeze it . To is bowl I had kelp Organic powder ginger hemp’oil and sometime human fish oil 3 times a week . I add sardine to is food . I freeze kefir blueberry smoothie in ice cubed put it in ziplock bags and give him once a day for’treat with fresh blueberries and 1 table spoon coconut oil .its a lot of research and prepping but it’s all worth it .

      Reply to Brigitte
  • AJ

    Hello. So I started my dog on reel raw and he absolutely loves it! Ive been feeding him mainly chicken and turkey for the past few weeks. Today I fed him beef, and he didn’t even touch it. With the chicken and turkey, he inhaled them. But the beef patty, he ate a piece and spit it out. I was wondering if this is something to be worried about, or should I keep trying to feed him it? He has had beef before, in both kibble and home cooked ways. But not raw.

    Reply to AJ
  • Lydia

    I love this! However, my dog’s situation is a bit different. When we started raw (with chicken) he loved it, but then got sick and vomited. The first couple of times he re-ate it, but then after a while he never went near chicken-puke. He seems to have developed a taste aversion to it. He loves beef and scarfs that down, but he won’t go near chicken backs no matter what. BUT he loves chicken gizzard? I’m not really sure what to do. I’m afraid he’s becoming picky towards chicken, so I want to just give him chicken for days and not give him beef. But I’m also concerned he’s developed a real dislike for it because it made him really sick in the beginning. Help?

    Reply to Lydia
    • Amy Marshall

      It’s always possible there’s an allergy or food sensitivity there. Consider testing your dog with this:

      Reply to Amy
    • Brigitte

      Why do you really want to give him chicken ? Is it because you want a variety ?
      Or it’s for the bones for calcium . When my dog didn’t eat bone in meat I gave him grounded eggshell I made myself from organic eggs. There is a dosage for how much you feed’it. I was worried about a variety of meat you are suppose to feed to your dog everybody say you need different meat but when you really think about it when they eat kibbles they eat only one protein for their life. So,I,stopped worried about it he gets supplement with kelp , hemp oil , sardine , kefir , ginger and in is meat I do 10 % steamed veggies that I put in the food processor and add to his meat .

      Reply to Brigitte
  • D wade

    My 14 pound poodle is doing great on raw but won’t eat any bone. I have tried chicken wings and he just walks away. No dental issues. I know he needs bone for balance in the diet. Any suggestions?

    Reply to D
    • Amy Marshall

      You could eat premade raw dog food (with bones already ground). Or, you could get a meat grinder and grind raw meaty bones up with your other ingredients. The easiest solution would be to use egg shells, calcium carbonate or bone meal (human grade). I’ll have a post up on this soon!

      Reply to Amy
  • Brigitte

    I started raw feeding 3 months ago my dog was doing ok but seemed to be less energetic . I was prepping 40 ounces of raw meat / 10%steamed veggies 10% raw bone in meat and 10% organ/ offal . Supplement with egg , kelp, ginger, hemp oil and human fish oil but now after I red some post fish oil is not the best . Sardine , mackerel, anchovies fresh fish is better . Anyway this was a big commitment and I was in the kitchen more for my dog than for us and my dog didn’t seem alive . So I decided to raw feed him in the morning and 1 cup of is Fromm dry food . I know some,people would say this is wrong but it works for him he is back to himself and gets 20 ounces of fresh raw food . There is no wrong doing what is best for your dog . He gets plenty of fresh meat and supplement and 1 cup of premium dry food . He is happy and I feel good about my decision . It’s better than just dry food . He gets kefir , blueberries coconut oil , bone broth . The important lesson in this is to adjust to your dog’s need .

    Reply to Brigitte
  • Andrew Hefner

    My dog is food
    Motivated. Loves veggies eats broccoli, zucchini, cucumbers fir lunch almost everyday. Switched to raw years ago. He got a bit skinny, so upped the volume and found a better brand. All good now. Except he WILL NOT eat the Pork from the variety pack that I purchase. Chicken both kinds, turkey, beef all no issue. When pork comes up he says no way.
    Could it be an allergy?
    should I consider him religious?
    Or mix it with something he does eat ?

    Reply to Andrew
    • Amy Marshall

      Hey Andrew! Try feeding boneless pork from the grocery store and/or pork from a different raw dog food brand to see if your dog is interested. If he eats pork from other sources, then it’s probably something about this specific brand he doesn’t like. My dog does the same thing. He happily eats almost any form of raw but certain proteins from certain brands, he turns his nose up at… If he won’t eat any pork, perhaps something more is going on. But if it’s just a brand problem you could try mixing the pork with raw dog food he likes. If that doesn’t work, perhaps try a new brand that offers pork formulas. But you never know, maybe he is religious ;-)

      Reply to Amy
  • Karen Button

    My dog has been on raw dog food for over a year now it’s really helped in Every Which Way But no matter what I do to it at this point he will not eat it he’ll go 3 days without eating it I try and cook it a little bit I try and put a little bit of salt in it I put raw egg in it he will not eat I’m thinking about switching back to kibble

    Reply to Karen
    • Amy Marshall

      It’s great raw food has helped your dog in so many ways but I’m sorry to hear you’re having trouble getting your dog to eat. Feel free to email me and we can see if can figure this out :)

      Reply to Amy
      • Freddie

        I have started my cavapoo on commercial raw frozen food. Firstly she had 80% lamb this was fine for 6days then would not eat it – what a shame I then tried white fish and veg fine for two days then would not eat the third flavour I tried was rabbit she hated this even more I do not want to go back to commercial pouches I do not want to give up. She is eight months and weighs 5.2 kg. I am in uk many thanks

        Reply to Freddie
        • Amy Marshall

          Hey Freddie, I’m sorry the transition has been difficult for you! I would make sure there are no underlying health conditions causing your dog to refuse food. If not, most often it’s a case of picky eaters. The tough love approach may work for you. I find most dog owners don’t hold out long enough. Or perhaps the transition was too quick. You can try a much slower and drawn out transition method like mixing raw in with her old food or cooking it at first and slowly cooking less and less until she’s eating it completely raw.

          Reply to Amy
        • Anita

          Hi Freddie,
          Don’t give up. You should always introduce first 1 protein for about 4 to 6 weeks. You should start with either chicken or beef, best ground meat what should have 10% bone and 10% organ. You can also start with just ground meat. And later mix 10% bone and 10% organ, best if you find it already mixed to buy. You should be able to find it already mixed, we call it here grinds. When your dog refuses to eat after 15 min take it away and offer it again in the evening. And don’t feed to much since raw is filling. You don’t want to overfeed either. Mine refused food 3 days and started eating again next morning. Don’t raise a picky eater, it is always our own fault. Dogs won’t starve, no worries. Some probiotics to assist in digestion or some goat colostrum or kefir does the trick as well.
          After 4 to 6 weeks mix a second protein to the first protein, just a little to get your dog used to it. With time you will figure out what she dislikes. Mine does not like rabbit at all. He is allergic to chicken so he eats duck, turkey and goose grinds with green tripe what is very nutricious and most dogs really love it.
          I also offer in the evening 1 duck neck and/or 1 duck foot for his teeth. Its easy for small dogs. You can also give chicken wings, feet and drumsticks. I had to try out several bone parts and the organ you want to cut them really small since they might dislike the smell and the soft consistency of organs.
          I also join a 1/4 teaspoon of spirulina, 1/4 teaspoon of coconut oil , 1 raw egg x week and sardines (1/2 spoon) or a good fishoil.
          She will poop little and no intense smell. She won’t drink as much water either since meat contains water.
          You will love how they thrive on raw food. Just don’t give up and give her a couple of days digestive time if she won’t eat. You will see her eating the same food again next 1 or 2 days.
          Unless she is sick , of course you want to keep an eye on her behaviour, diarrhea, constipation. Be aware too much bone gets them constipated. So give bones only 2-3 times a week for now.
          I hope this helps. Keep updating.

          Reply to Anita
  • Kelly


    I have three dogs. Two 8 yr old Siberian Huskies and a 4 yr old Border Collie. I can’t afford to switch them all to raw, so I decided to at least switch the collie since she’s younger. Here’s the problem. She sees them eat the kibble and wants it too. She’ll leave her bowl full of raw and start eating from their bowls instead.


    Reply to Kelly
    • Amy Marshall

      Good question Kelly! Unfortunately kibble is enticing. It’s sprayed with all kinds of things: palatability enhancers, flavorings, etc. This can be quite enticing for your dog even if they eat a nutritious, raw diet. I would just separate them when feeding or feed one at a time in an enclosed area (garage, basement, mudroom, etc.)

      Reply to Amy
  • Lucy

    I have been feeding my dogs the raw food diet for 2 weeks… they are mastiff/boxer/Rhodesian ridgeback. They really do not like the raw meat w veggies coconut oil muscle meat. I grind up good rump roasts, I think when o add the veg they don’t like it…they will eat the raw merat from my hand. I waited 3 days and threw the food out. Getting pretty disgusted and worried over them not eating.. I added Italian cheese to their beef and veg I made a turkey broth and thew it on the raw meat also graded a piece of garlic finally they ate I really hope I don’t go through this again they do not like chicken and I gave them a chicken leg and they just sat there looking at it I don’t know what else to do I’m almost ready to put them back on cable I had them on from seven they were eating really good I need help please help me with this thanks Lucy

    Reply to Lucy
    • Amy Marshall

      Hi Lucy, sorry to hear you’re have such a hard time! It sounds like a case of picky eaters. Do they eat some foods and not others. Also are you providing treats, recreational chews or other food during this time? Any else they’re getting to eat on the side could derail these efforts. Also, it’s super helpful to fast your dog for at least 24 hours before making the transition to ensure they’re hungry and eager to eat. What’s more, how you transitioned could be affecting things. Did you switch their food cold turkey? Feel free to contact me and I can help further.

      Reply to Amy
  • Risha

    I’ve been feeding my Pit/mastiff mix raw for about 3-4 months which he loves. This page has helped me before with feeding my dog organs, he wouldn’t touch them before no matter how I prepared it including lightly cooking it but after some tough love he got the picture. The problem that I’m having isn’t with the raw food but with the additives and supplements that I also give him. I feed him the barf diet because I personally think it’s better but lately he won’t eat his veggies/fruits or any supplements I give him, he’ll chow on the raw and leave everything else. At first I thought he was just getting full so I would give him everything else before the raw food and he’ll just look at me like I’m stupid until I pull out the meat. I don’t give him veggies or supplements everyday, give him what he should be having within a week and split it between 4-5 days so some days it’s just meat and others some additives. I’ve been doing this for 2 months straight no problem then all of a sudden he doesn’t eat it. I know it’s important to make sure they have nutrients from veggies and other things like fish/fish oils so I also practice tough love with this and do not give him meat until he eats everything else. It’ll work for a couple of days then he’s stubborn again. Is there anything I can do to get him to eat everything else? I’ve tried tough love, mixing everything, coating things to taste better but nothing, I need help.

    Reply to Risha
    • Amy Marshall

      Hey Risha, I’m so glad your dog is loving raw! Though I’m sorry to hear he’s giving you such a hard time with other ingredients. I suggest trying a few other tips/tricks/disguises. when it comes to veggies and veggie mixes, it’s usually best to puree them. It will make them easier to digest but most dogs are more prone to eat them that way rather than whole. You can try mixing your pureed veggies in with some high value liquid food items like homemade bone broth (or beef/chicken broth). Or, I suggest adding the veggies in your dog’s food bowl and pouring in any of the bloody meat juices that accumulated in your plastic bag or container when defrosting your dog’s meal. Most dogs will not reject blood and meat juices (as gross as they may seem to us!). Another option to try is freezing your pureed veggie mix into cubes. It seems a lot of dogs will eat things frozen that they don’t nomrally eat thawed. And if none of this works, you might just have to go back to tough love. You can try offering the supplements first and if your dog won’t eat it, packing up everything until the next day. Sooner or later your dog will learn they have to eat the other stuff to get the good stuff. Good luck!

      I suggest continuing to practice the tough love approach.

      Reply to Amy

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