Warning: If You’re Feeding Your Dog Like THIS Then STOP NOW!
Stop Free-Feeding Your Dog!
One of our first recommendations we make to our clients is to stop “free-feeding” their dog. Free-feeding is leaving a bowl of dog food on the ground for hours at a time, if not all day long, rather than giving the dog regularly scheduled meals which need to be eaten immediately. Remember that today’s Dogs are derived from wolves, not livestock!
Free-fed dogs are harder to housebreak.
Scheduled input of food means scheduled output of poop. If you’ve got a new puppy and you’re free-feeding it, you’re making house training infinitely harder. Need help with Potty Training? Click the link.
It limits your dog’s motivation to be rewarded or receive treats.
When we have a new client who voices, “My dog isn’t food motivated!“, 99% of the time they’re free-feeding their dog. We educate owners that this is like having a bowl full of $1 bills on the table, free for the taking, then telling your child they need to earn his $5 weekly allowance. Why would they value earning when they can just grab a fistful of dollars whenever they want?
You don’t know if your dog’s appetite has decreased.
This can be a tell-tale sign of illness. When our Trainers feed their dogs, they immediately consume their food. If one of them ever put down a bowl of food and one of the dogs didn’teat, that would earn them an immediate trip to the veterinarian. Also, if your dog ever needs emergency surgery, the vet will want to know when your dog last ate. If you’re free-feeding, that answer could be 30 minutes ago or 3 hours ago – you have no way of knowing.
It attracts pests…which is especially a no-go in Florida
This is going to gag you, but we’ve found ants and mouse poop in and around the food bowls of dogs that are free-fed. How gross is that?
Also, it should come as no surprise that almost every free-fed dog we’ve met is overweight. An obese dog is an absolute failure on the owner and a disservice to owning and caring for a dog. If you’re guilty then fix it!
How Do You Make A Change?
Are you ready to stop free-feeding your dog? Here’s how to break away.
Step 1: Decide how often you are going to feed your dog. For most dogs, twice a day is enough – once in the morning and once at night. Puppies and small-breed dogs may do better being fed three times per day.
Step 2: Decide how much you are going to feed your dog. Some owners actually don’t know how much food their dog eats in a given day – they just keep the bowl full, and if it gets low, they dump in some more kibble. Use the amount listed on the dog food bag as a guideline for how much to feed your dog. (In my experience, these amounts tend to over-estimate how much food your dog needs.) Better yet, consult your veterinarian or a canine nutritionist.
Step 3: Pick up the food bowl and clean it thoroughly. If you’ve been free-feeding for awhile, chances are it’s been awhile since your dog’s bowl was washed.
Step 4: At the next scheduled mealtime, measure out your dog’s food in the bowl and place it on the ground. Set a kitchen timer or your phone alarm to go off in 15 minutes and let your dog eat. They may not eat anything! Don’t worry about it. There’s a HIGH probability your dog is not putting out the energy necessary in a day where it feels it must eat to replace that output. Maybe your Dog has TOO MUCH? If so, then click here!
Step 5: When that timer goes off, pick up the food bowl. If there’s anything left, measure itand subtract that from your first measurement so you know how much food your dog ate. Throw out whatever’s left.
Step 6: Do not give your dog any food until the next scheduled feeding. (An occasional training session or small snack is okay, but nothing more!)
Step 7: At your next scheduled mealtime, repeat steps 4 and 5.
“My dog isn’t finishing their meals!”
If your dog consistently does not finish her meals, you are probably offering too much food. Reduce the amount of kibble accordingly.
“My dog eats everything in their bowl and still seems hungry!”
Most dogs are always “hungry”. Since when is self-control is their strong suit? If your dog is wolfing down their food and you are feeding the amount suggested on the dog food bag, do not give her more food yet – wait a week or so, see if they’re gaining or losing weight, and adjust accordingly. Once again please consult your veterinarian.
“My dog isn’t interested in the food when I put it down, so I added a little water/broth/chicken/dog treats/cat food…”
Stop! Your dog is training you. If they ignore their food, you’ll add something exciting to it, therefore they continue to ignore their food until there’s a nice snack in it. Sounds similar to children that get away with too much, right? If you want to give your dog a special snack, use it as a training reward for accomplishing something of value.
It’s That Simple
This is not a difficult process. Do not let your “affection” get in the way of what is actually best for your dog. All you need to do is stick to your guns, put down dog food 2-3 times a day, and not add any “goodies” attempting to entice your dog to eat.
This is IMPORTANT…A healthy dog absolutely will not starve themself.
If you are concerned about your dog’s health, contact your veterinarian before beginning this plan