Why will my dog only eat with someone standing next to him?
(Q) My dog will now only eat his dinner if someone is standing next to him
(A) Behaviourist Claire Arrowsmith says: To understand this you need to look at what has triggered this change. The habit is likely to have been learned by you responding to his failure to eat at some stage. Did you encourage him to eat when he was off his food, or has he become used to you adding nice things to his bowl? He has learned that it is better to have you around while he eats. If he is a happy and healthy dog then he will not starve himself for long if you refuse to be near him.
If he does not feel relaxed enough to eat without you being present then a different approach will be needed. Consider factors that may be making him feel uncomfortable and then make changes to help him relax. These may involve the dinner routine, position of the bowl, type of bowl, and gradually getting him used to you being further away from him.
If you do remain in the room you must totally ignore him. Gradually, over a few meals, step away until he is used to you not being close to him. If he continues eating, you can return at the end and drop another reward in his bowl — but this should be the only interaction he has.
Consider feeding him from an activity toy or puzzle feeder instead of the bowl. Changing his expectations and routine for a short time may be all you need to change the habit.