The close bond you have with your pet can come into play at mealtime, notes Dr. Liz Stelow, animal behaviorist and chief of service at UC Davis, especially if your dog has come to expect an emotional reward for eating.
“Some owners create a relationship with the dog around food, especially if he has a history of being a picky eater or has experienced reduced interest in food due to a major gastrointestinal upset,” Stelow tells The Dodo. “In those cases, owners will play with food choices, use verbal encouragement, sometimes fret and otherwise sink a lot of emotion into getting their dog's eating on track.”
This can create a situation in which the dog feels more rewarded by eating in the owner's presence than alone, Stelow explains, even if the food itself is not very rewarding.
If your dog won’t eat without you, try holding back on the verbal praise during the next mealtime, and see if he begins to eat independently.