Free Feeding Meal Feeding Dogs
The question is: Should you be meal feeding or free feeding your dog?
Meal feeding is when you provide your dog with meals at set times of each day.
If you do, it is recommended to feed once or twice for adult dogs per day. On puppies, three times per day.
Free feeding means that your dog has access to his food at all times.
Someone mentioned the comparison of a Vegas Buffet! Agreed!
Let’s look at the pros and cons of either way- and then decide for yourself.
Taking responsibility for dogs brings many choices:
How to train, what equipment to use, which toys are best? Talking about feeding…..there are also endless choices of dog foods (Kibble or raw, with grain or without, fish based, chicken based, beef based, etc.
But this is a whole different article!
Reasons owners choose to free feed:
It sure is convenient to just watch the bowl and keep it full. Over excitement at feeding time, is also avoided, if you decide to meal feed. There will be no problem if you never made it home at feeding time. The food is always there.
Food aggression- guard
Another reason is to possibly prevent or discourage food aggression (possessiveness) It could make sense,that a dog would be less likely to defend something that is always readily available in comparison to something that might be a treasure. Yet, I believe after years of professional experience that some individual dogs have those tendencies, and some do not. Dogs that have the tendency to guard their food might be less protective over it when free fed, but I would not count on a total cure. In addition, a dog that has those protective tendencies and is now free fed, could be on constant guard (stressful) feeling that he has has to protect his food all the time!
A better suggestion for a solution might be to only feed such dog out of your hand. Or also feed him by holding onto the dish while you are sitting in a chair.
Emotional reassurance that the dog does not starve
It might make one feel better to know that his dog is not starving.
Reasons why owners choose to meal feed:
Control of food intake
Controlling the amount a dog is eating will prevent obesity. Obesity is bad for any creature. In dogs, especially young ones, it could put unreasonable stress on joints and ligaments. They are more prone to have injuries. It is to be compared to have an extra back pack of heavy material to constantly being carried around.
Noticing that he doesn’t feel right
Loss of appetite will be more easily noted. And it is a clear indication that something is coming on. As meal feeding is always the same procedure and exciting event to a degree, changes in the dog’s attitude is immediately noticeable. Early detection of changes indicating that something is wrong, is a great advantage. Early recognition will prevent massive actions to be taken.
Using food for training
If you are intending to have a well behaved dog, you will consider training him. Food based reward systems for good behavior, are much more powerful, if the reward (food) is NOT readily available at all times. If meal feeding is on a set schedule, it will give your training even more excitement. Dogs learn the scenario at a certain time and in a certain place very quickly.
Control potty time
It is a fact that after eating- or waking up, it is potty time. Especially if the dog is not potty trained yet, the prediction of when he needs to go is very easy to be made.
Multiple dogs household
If there are more than one dog to be fed in the same household, Meal feeding is almost mandatory. Owners need to be in control over eating habits of each dog. Each dog should be supervised eating the portion and kind that is assigned to him individually.
Meal feeding for a group will also help to prevent dogs suddenly competing and fighting over food.
Meals and dog dishes are more hygienic
Dog dishes should be washed daily. It will prevent developing bacteria that can easily developed if food is just sitting out, even inside the house. Food left in bowls is an open invitation for ants and other insects.Just one fly inside the house could easily get onto the food and infest it. In addition, the dog could have just taken a drink of water, goes to take a bite of food, and moist the kibble with his wet mouth. It can very quickly develop mold. Especially if the dog is eating raw food, meal feeding is absolutely imperative.