Before I was a dog trainer, I worked in corporate communications. It was my job to take the ideas and words of management and put them into employee newsletters and emails. This blog is a little like that. The ideas and thoughts that follow are not just mine. They come from a recent Facebook discussion among a number of dog trainers about “free feeding.”
That’s the opposite of “scheduled feeding,” which is what most trainers recommend. That’s when you feed a certain number of times a day (often two) and you only leave the food bowl down for a certain length of time (typically 15 minutes). If your dog doesn’t eat, you pick the food bowl up.
Why do we think scheduled feeding is better? Well, my favorite two reasons that came up during the Facebook discussion were these:
While those are valid concerns, here are some other benefits to putting Fido on a regular feeding schedule:
One other thing about all of this… pisometimes we free feed because we feel sorry for our dogs if they don’t eat right away. I personally have experienced this. It always seemed like my dog was sort of a picky eater. I would put his food down; he would sniff it and walk away. So when I picked up the bowl, I felt bad because I was depriving him of his food. One day, however, it occurred to me that maybe he just didn’t like the same old kibble I had been giving him. So I started trying different kinds of food. Different brands. Different flavors. I finally found two flavors that he really seems to like. I alternate them, and with few exceptions, he always gobbles up his food as soon as the bowl goes down (after a sit or two) twice a day.
He’s happy. I’m happy. And maybe that’s the bottom line with scheduled feeding.