Free Feeding vs. Meal Feeding – The Age Old Debate

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To Free Feed Or Not? puppy training, free feeding dogs

Does Your Dog live to Excess?

This is a seriously heated debate in the dog world!  People get emotional about WHY they think their way is better than the other and I must confess there are good reasons for both.

As devil’s advocate and to make sure I cover both sides before I give my opinion I will cover both ways.

Free Feeding Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Dogs don’t feel pressure to eat, they know there food will always be there.
  • Some dogs (not most) will eat only as much as they need more if they are hungry less when they are not.
  • Some say this lessens food aggression (although I am not convinced).

Cons

  • Free feeding delays potty training because it is harder for owners to determine when the puppy eats and therefore needs to go outside.
  • A lot of dogs eat out of boredom and some will literally eat themselves into obesity and oblivion.  Obesity leads to many diseases and kills dogs.
  • Dogs can be less likely to be food motivated for training.
  • One dog can over eat while other dogs are not getting enough.
  • Can add to the factors of bloat
  • Owners may not be home after the dog eats and bloats
  • Owners may not notice a sick dog that hasn’t eaten that day or even for a few days if the dog free feeds.

Meal Feeding Pros & Cons

Is Meal Feeding Better? free feeding dogs, puppy training, labrador training

Be careful how much you feed your Labrador RetrieverPro’s & Con’s

Pros

  • Can help with potty training puppies!  Food in = Food out
  • You will notice if your dog is sick and refuses to eat or doesn’t eat it all.
  • Food and life revolves around YOU his owner!
  • You control how much and when your dog eats and by doing so you can control his weight.
  • Lessens dog/dog aggression because you can separate dogs if you need to.
  • You can work together using his food as obedience treats!
  • Can lessen the chances of bloat
  • Owners are more likely be home if dog bloats

Cons

  • You could be feeding your dog too much or not enough, unknowingly.
  • You will have to carve out time in your schedule.
  • Some say this creates frantic dogs that can become food aggressive (although I am not convinced).
  • Dog may feel like he has to eat when he is not hungry.

My Opinion On Free Feeding Your Dog?

Overweight Dog, free feeding dogs, puppy training

I am a diehard meal feeder!  I feed my dogs twice a day and my puppies 3 times a day.  I wouldn’t want to go 24 hours in between meals, so I definitely recommend feeding twice a day, but I believe this to be the best plan!

I once had 6 cats and I meal fed each and every one of them.  If I didn’t I had one cat that ate so much she was on the fringe of becoming diabetic and other cats that weren’t getting enough.

Although it was difficult (some of them were even crate trained and would run into their crates), it was essential to my kitties’ and my doggies’ health to meal feed!

My oldest dog NIX is or was at one point perfectly capable of free feeding (I use to let him free feed while visiting my mother and her dog that free fed) but my other dog almost ate himself to death once.

Some dogs just don’t have an “off” switch when it comes to food and they can and some will eat themselves to the point of sickness.

AND, obesity is the #1 avoidable killer of dogs!

The Number 1 Reason I Meal Feed?

But, even though I knew all of this it didn’t really hit home until I was a vet tech.  Time after time I watched owners bring in dogs that were literally starving themselves because they were sick but their owners didn’t notice the weight loss until it was severe.

If my dogs miss a meal, I am calling the authorities!  My dogs rarely if ever miss a meal.  The illness would have to be severe if my male dogs refuse their food.

My female sometimes skips a meal after a long car ride or a long day, but I know that about her and if she missed 2 in a row there would be a problem.  But, if my boys missed a meal it would be a really bad sign.

Because I meal feed my dogs I notice if they are not eating!  If I allowed all three of them to eat as much as they wanted, whenever they wanted; even if they didn’t over eat, I might not notice if one of them was not eating due to illness!

This has made me a proponent of meal feeding, that and the fact I can keep my dogs svelte and healthy!

Do what you want with your best friend and maybe free feeding puppies is what you’ll choose but keep an eye out on his habits and his schedule and if he is getting overweight or underweight take notice he might need a different plan!

Let me know your thoughts and what you choose by leaving a comment below.

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There are 230 Comments

  1. Hanah says:

    I have a 7 month old pure breed GSD.the information you have givin about feeding is a little confusing??he is a little over 60 pounds,and the vet says he looks great,not over or under weight.but i feed him 3 times a day,and have been doing that since he was 8 weeks.the only thing i have changed is the amount i feed him at a time.my question is,i keep reading that you feed your dogs 2 times a day,other people 3 times,some 1,but how much at a time?i am giving my puppy what the chart recommends,and the vet told us that the chart is what your supposed to be feeding them according to how big they will be,and not how big they are at the time.so my puppy gets 1 1/2 cups at a time,and to me,for how big he is,doesnt seem like enough at one time?am i under feeding him,or am i feeding him too much at a time,or just enough?

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  2. Jqne Campbell-Hoff says:

    I feed Brandi in the morning before I go to work and feed her at night before we have dinner.

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  3. steephen says:

    My dog RINTU LABRADOR takes food 3 times per day.Her favourites food pedigree&chicken fish is also ok .IF I offer other food items she relactant to take it .IF I force she will give SHAKE HAND Actually she learned herself

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  4. MOIRA says:

    HI I HAVE A CAVALIER KING CHARLES SPANIEL PUP (6MNTHS) JUST LATELY HE WILL NOT USE PUPPY PADS TO RELIEVE HIMSELF BUT MESSES ON FLOOR AND SHREDS PUPPY PADS
    ANY ADVISE WOULD BE MUCH APPRECIATED

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    Dori Reply:

    You may not like my answer. My puppy did the same thing to her puppy pads. I started taking her outside more often and she never went near the pads again. She was old enough to be house broken and she was telling me by tearing the pads. She has never messed in the house again. She can go 11 hrs at night without taking her outside now. They should be house broken by 6 to 8 months. The rule is drink, wee wee in 10 min. Eat, poo in 1/2 hr.

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  5. Jessi says:

    The reality is(in my opinion), after reading much of the other responses, and comparing them to my own experiences, it all will depend on the dog, it’s breed, temperment, age, quality of dog food etc. Personally, I would NEVER free feed my dog, but it doesnt mean I’m against it. I choose not to because my dogs (and fosters, rescues, etc) would gain weight. They all need to stay fit because they all get worked,(trained, etc) and also with MOST dogs, if I free fed them they wouldnt be motivated enough to take a treat(unless they truly aren’t food motivated). So if they wouldnt take treats or they didnt like toys, training would be more stressful. Don’t get me wrong,some dogs can be rewarded from our own praise alone, but not all of them can. But with the specific brand of higher quality food that I use, I feed mine once a day.

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  6. Nicole Turner says:

    I free feed my red healer puppy because no one is usually home to give regular meals. I also believe that unless a dog starts out with a rather large eating disorder it does help to prevent future eating disorders. As for noticing if they don’t eat, training them to eat only out of their own bowl is a help!

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  7. Dominique says:

    I have a morkie of 6 mths. I feed her 2x a day, one in the am before leaving home, and one at dinner time. However, i noted that, on some days, she does not eat all her morning meal. she is quite tall for a morkie of her age, but yet, she weighs only 3.5 lbs. should i consider that she is under fed?

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  8. Coralie Nellhard says:

    I feed our rescue dog 3 times a day. He is 5 years old. When he came to us, he ate so fast that he threw up his meal directly after eating!

    He was obese and lazy. Now after 9 months with us he plays, goes for long walks and has lost weight.

    He eats calmly, never vomits after his meal and takes a napp after eating. His stool looks better and is regular.

    He is also calm and waits patiently until I give him the okay command to start eating, instead of throwing himself over his bowl growling.

    Also noted a great improvement during training sessions, more attentive!

    I have divided his total food amount into these 3 regular meals and it works very well for us.
    He eats canine approved homemade dog food,Origen kibble, fruit, veggies and sometimes some left overs,also supplements.

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  9. heide says:

    hi i have a 10mth old husky she gets fed onca a day but has dry food out all the time as we found out huskys eat when hungry some days they wont eat at all and other days they cant get enough depending on weather but we keep an eye on here weight

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  10. Sheila says:

    I believe it is an individual choice. Most of the dogs I have owned were on self feeding and did great. I have yet to see food aggression with this method, but again it would depend on the dog, and most of all the owner.

    Right now I have an eleven year old Siberian Husky that was on self feeding, but I believe she ended up with a thyroid problem from the dog food. She was living with my son out in the bush, and was becoming sedentary. In 2004 she was being chased by a wolf that was trying to bring her down, one of our other dogs was killed that morning. She decided venturing out in the bush wasn’t a safe thing to do. Consequently she wasn’t getting as much exercise as she should, and as she was getting older she started putting on weight. She came to live with me in September of this year, and was having difficulty getting up the three steps onto the deck. When I noticed how badly she was doing, I started feeding her raw, and would vary the times and types of raw food she eats. She has lost about 10 pounds, has more energy, and is doing great. If a person can afford to feed raw, I would suggest at least trying to do so. Dogs were not made to eat grain, and I believe that many of the health problems they get now days are due to eating what they, in the wild, would not eat.

    I also agree that I wouldn’t want to wait 24 hours between meals, but there again in the wild they might have to wait that long. So that is why I try to vary the times and types of food that she eats. Sometimes she eats twice a day, never less, but sometimes it is three times. Always the portions change. Oh and she gets a good broad spectrum multi-vitamin and mineral per day.

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  11. danielle says:

    i have a blue heler asuse mix her name is lucy i feed her 2 a day once in the morning i put in her kong toy and she has to work to get it out or i put in her bowl with hot whatar then at night she get a little bit and a cople treats and that is all

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  12. I have raised Airedales for 40 years and believe in meal times for both puppies and adults. Main reasons are easier to housebreak puppies and I know how much each puppy, dog eats and when they are “off” their food. I use biscuits as treats and for training – only the puppy size (and I break them in half) so that they don’t get too much as great for getting them to go into crate when I ask, and as reward for good behavior.

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  13. PupJoy says:

    I don’t free feed. I used to when I only had one dog, but now that I have three it gives me a way to monitor what is going on. Who is eating, who’s not. If anyone decides to keep someone away from the food I’m there to make sure all get to eat. There are pros and cons to everything in life and I believe you need to decide what works best for you and your situation.

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  14. My dog is a pitbull cross (one year old).

    I feed her two main meals a day and she sometimes has a snack in the
    afternoon if she’s hungry. Sometimes I free feed her small amounts to
    discover her likes and dislikes.

    I always ensure that her meals are nutritious and balanced – that includes small amounts of fruit and vegetables (the ones that are good for dogs)and I always like to add a few drops of cod liver oil or salad oil to her meals.

    She is a healthy, happy, active and affectionate dog!!!

    Destiny singer

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  15. Minerva says:

    I have 4 dogs and I feed them twice a day, for the moment I thik is working good.

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  16. Paige says:

    I free feed my pekingese and my ex boyfriend’s dog is free fed because that is how I prefer to raise my dogs. I don’t think it is “better” than anything. It’s just how I do it and how my dogs are. My family dog is an Aussie who would eat himself to bursting if he were free fed.

    My pekingese was VERY VERY VERY food and resource aggressive and she would even bite ME if she thought I was too close to her food. Since she was a rescue I thought that I had no choice but to live with that. Well I decided since I started working at home, that I would instead of feeding in separate rooms, I would supervise meals. I found both of the dogs were willing to walk away from their bowls if I was keeping the other from it. Meaning they didn’t see any need to eat in one sitting if they thought there were boundaries. Eventually they just kept to eating out of their own bowls and I would fill them up every time I heard one of them eating. It really did help with her aggression BECAUSE of the type of aggression it was and my ex’s dog eats enough now whereas before he was underweight because he didn’t like to eat that fast and since my ex wasn’t home and he’d pick up the bowl, the dog wasn’t eating much.

    There are a few cons, such as the actual protection of the individual bowls (which I find to be essential for my dogs to be comfortable in free feeding). I also don’t know how much my girl eats, but since I work from home, I do note if she has an appetite. As far as her willingness to be treated. If you want to give her a piece of dog food out of hand for a trick she’d do it.

    I don’t find my way “better” I just think for myself and my dog it works because of our lifestyle.

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  17. Allyson says:

    I have kind of a problem with feeding. I have a three year old pom that free eats. She only will eat a few kibbles at a time throughout the day and never over eats. We just got a new 9 week old pom puppy that will eat until she throws up. Right now we feed the little one three times a day and have her in a kennel, but eventually we would like her to roam the apartment like the big one. How can I make sure the older dog gets enough but the little one doesn’t get too much?

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    Minette Reply:

    Start meal feeding separately and stop free feeding!

    Puppy food can be really bad for adult dogs!

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  18. John says:

    This article seems very biased towards scheduled feeding. Surely the pros and cons shouldn’t have your own opinion. It obviously lessens food aggression having free feed because the dog knows that it can have food whenever it wants whereas a scheduled feed dog knows it only gets it at certain times so it is more precious. An example of humans is to give a child a toy for as long as they want and eventually they will get bored of it and you could easily remove it. Restrict the time a child has a toy for and the child will be more ‘aggressive’ when you remove it or if it thinks you will remove it as well as being more possessive over it. This is obviously not the case in all dogs but it neither is it the case that all dogs that are free fed will just eat and eat into ‘oblivion’ as you put it.

    My 2 dogs happily free feed and all the dogs I have ever had in the past do too. Recently we brought our dogs into a house with a dog that is on a schedule. We gave our dogs a chewy bone and within 10 mins the other dog had it and was growling whenever one of our dogs went near it and then when one got too close it attacked it and drew blood! Otherwise the other dog is a lovely dog but not around food.

    If you intend to write an article like this by all means have your own opinion at the bottom but express the pros and cons without such obvious bias and instead allow people to make their own judgements.

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    Minette Reply:

    Dogs are animals and some have possessive traits no matter what their feeding style.

    Some dogs will protect their beds or a rock if they desire.

    I related the facts.

    I shared my opinion at the end.

    It is true that many dogs will eat until they are quite obese and that shortens their lives and causes health problems!

    Some dogs are quite successful with free feeding, many are not.

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  19. Ranjana Datta Sur says:

    I am having a 2months and 28 days old spitz puppy called “Jazzy”. Till date i hv fed him 4times a day..n i m supposed to make it 3times as soon he completes his 3months..i want to know the timings of feeding. what will be the minimum and maximum gaps? and most importantly how much(the amount)should i feed him? as he shows that he is hungry all the time altough his weight is perfect. and he used to go for potty for about 4-5times a day. is it normal?

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    Minette Reply:

    Yes that is normal.

    I feed my puppies three times a day until they are about 4 months old.

    I put down the food and let them eat as much as they want for about 5 minutes. What they don’t eat I pick up. When they get older I will measure what they eat, but when they are puppies I allow them to eat until they are full so that they can grow.

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  20. Diane G says:

    You can’t free fed a raw or homemade diet.

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  21. Carol says:

    I free feed our Westie, who is almost a year old. I tried to meal feed twice a day, but she is a picker, but by the end of the day, most of the time, the food is gone. She is active and gets distracted very easily, like the cat passing by when she eats…. so free feeding works better for her.

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  22. Rachel says:

    When I got my lab-mix puppy at 8 wks old, my vet (who was wonderful!), recommended just keeping her bowl full and letting her eat when she was hungry. So that’s what I did. Maybe Bella was “special,” but it worked for us. She usually ate when I was cooking in the kitchen and didn’t go nuts whenever I pulled out the dog food. She weighed the exact same her entire adult life (50 lbs) and increased her food with more active days and ate less when she was less active. Training her with other treats, like carrots, was easy. I can certainly see where this would not work with some breeds, but I’m so happy I made the choice of “open bowl” for Bella. Again, maybe I just got lucky, but I ended up with a very happy, healthy, and well-behaved dog.

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  23. Teresa K. says:

    I free feed my Jack Russell. She is the only pet in our home; therefore, I do know if she doesn’t eat. She doesn’t ever over-eat, and she gets daily exercise. I weigh her often. I take notice of her water AND food intake. She does have days where she doesn’t eat at all and other days when she eats twice during the day. Her normal feeding time, when she eats whatever is left in the bowl, is midnight. I tried meal feeding, and she went for 3 days without eating. I think that, for her, free feeding is much better. She is training to be my service dog (I use a wheelchair, and she has now learned to pick up things that I drop and put them in my lap), and I withhold food when we are traveling by air. She handles this well and doesn’t eat well when we are gone, but she is getting better about that, too, as she learns the routine.

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  24. Fan of Free Feeding says:

    We have owned 5 dogs of various breeds over the last 30 years. All have been free fed. Over that time, we have used a large food dispenser with a swinging door with tremendous success. None of our dogs have been over weight or under weight even until old age. None have shown food aggression towards each other. Our mixed breed lived to be 20 years old with good body weight until the last 6 months of his life. Our keeshond is 12 years old and weighs a perfect 45 lbs. Our golden retriever, a breed notorious for obesity, is free fed and he is a rock solid muscular boy.

    Perhaps the manner in which our dogs have been free fed is important. They have been introduced to this style of feeding as soon as we bring them to our home. The food is in a large dispenser with a swinging door rather than out in a bowl. Perhaps the effort of standing over the door and pushing it open to eat resulted in the dog eating when he was hungry enough to feel motivated rather than when he was bored.

    I think that making food available at only certain times of the day leads to feast or faminine conditions for the dog, and this promotes swings of insulin and then hunger just as it does in humans, and encourages gorging when food becomes available. If the human measures out just a little bit too much food when the dog is in a gorging mode, then over time the dog becomes fat. The dog is likely to gobble up everything put before him even if he didn’t need it.

    I truly believe in the wisdom of a dog’s own physiology to regulate his food intake provided the food is presented to him in a utilitarian way–behind a door that he must stand and push with his head in order to access it.

    We also rarely feed our dogs peole food unless it is something of high value like meat scraps. Otherwise, the dogs get only premium dry food, in the dispenser behind the swinging door.

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  25. Ingrid says:

    I have a mini and a toy poodle. They are fed in the am a set amount of food. That food is left out all day and put up at the last potty break. I’ve always done with them (since puppies). When they were pups and being crate trained they had a small bowl of food and water in the crate.

    I had zero issues housebreaking them because I was diligent with the potty schedule. 1st thing in the morning and an hour for every month until the were 8 months. At 1 month they went out every hour. 2 months every 2 hours and so forth. It was tedious but we didn’t have many accidents.

    No they free feed until I got to bed at night and are able to play, sleep, and eat for the 8 hours I’m at work with no marking or mishaps in the house. Neither are fat or under weight and both are generally well adjusted.

    Occasionally one dog my feel under the weather and I can tell if they aren’t eating by how much food is left at night. I also cuddle them a lot ant I notice any weight loss that way. Pumpkin and peanut butter usually go a long way to perking their taste buds and helping any tummy upset. But if its more than a day or 2 to the vet we go.

    Free feeding is an individual choice. Of course if you see your dog becoming obese you should rethink what you are doing, but if everyone is eating then and healthy let sleeping dogs lie.

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  26. Andy says:

    This article does not really seem like a debate. You clearly chose a side and provide more positive information for your side than the other. This seems just a bit biased. Just a tip the title should be more like reasons for meal feeding. But I did enjoy the information, thank you.

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  27. Kelly says:

    Thanks for all the feedback everyone. As a newbie – so interesting to hear various methods & especially, some of the raw diet and supplemental nutrition.

    My Buddy is 11-month large male brindle pitbull mix (likely lab?) but we joke he is part equine – he is tall and lopes, pulls his “lead,” snorts & paws around like a horse! (He was neutered at 7 months – so that may contribute to why he is bigger.)

    He was dumped on my street – a very cheerful and plump 10-week puppy – and has always been hale & hearty. Wish I knew what combination. People stop me often to ask. He truly came out gorgeous: tall, muscled w/ not an ounce of fat. Despite his breed, he is not food aggressive but of course very “enthusiastic” & will inhale anything put in front of him instantly as well as kitty food so that is separated, out of his reach. While I do not free feed (I work from home) & give him meals 3x daily. AM – 7:00-8:00, snack like peanut butter in a Kong around 10:30am, Light kibble again around Noon-1pm and light dinner anywhere from 5:30-7pm. (Probably 2 – 2 1/2 cups total.) When he was a puppy, I think the vet-advised portions actually too low. He was so active and growing so rapidly, you began to see his spine and ribs – the bit of lunch did the trick nicely and he stopped acting like he was starving. Poor guy!

    He gets Nutro Natural Lamb & Brown Rice adult kibble. Sometimes I add a spoon of natural Greek yogurt & for evening am interested in adding canned pumpkin & green beens as my family does for their dogs. I also occasionally give him pulverized dessicated liver tablets in his food.
    I do not feed him table scraps (don’t want a beggar) but for the occasional treats he gets Nutro chicken & brown rice natural tartar control biscuits or Blue Buffalo chicken & liver treats. I DO NOT let him have any artificial treats or bad grade pet food – even when traveling – I bring his own stuff or he will get sick. He is terrible for being a gross ground feeder & wanting to get into all sorts of things & we are really trying to train him out of it. Dangerous!

    He was trained w/ food (natural cooked turkey) which seemed to work quite well. I typically feed him outside & leave him there. He has always been very regular and does his business w/in 15-20 minutes of any meal. He may be unusual too in that he is one dog who goes in his OWN yard, rather than on walks where he is more interested in smelling, etc.
    I have heard pitbulls are very sensitive digestively and can develop allergies. He seems to have a bit of a reaction which shows up in a bit of eye goob (I’m guessing it’s peanut butter) so I’m looking into other options but that is hands down his favorite treat!

    If I was not able to be home, I would likely feed only 2 x daily. He would definitely never have the self control to pace himself – would definitely eat himself sick & worry about it later – lol!

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  28. shyann says:

    My puppy slept through his dinner meal I give his dinner at 5:30….its now do I refuse his meal because its late or do I give it2

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    Minette Reply:

    You can try to feed again

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  29. Salesia Ramirez says:

    Sharon F.–Everyone on here is doing great with their dogs & there is no need to give critical advice as long as everyone is feeding their dogs. Let everyone feed their best friends the way they want to!

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  30. kim says:

    I free feed my aussie mix, he only eats a little here a little there. Even though he free feeds he is still highly food motivated with treats. He eats high quality food and gets high quality treats. He was easy to train with treats. Even with a bowl of dog food right next to him. To me, it was easy because the treats were just that a treat. Nothing like his dog food. He only gets dry, and he gets different flavors of the same brand. But the treats are different, soft moist and meaty. So In my opinion, free feeding does not inhibit treat training and food motivation. But that’s just me and my experience.
    My dog is 4 years old,
    6 weeks ago i git a great Pyrenees puply, she is 13 weeks, she so far is the same. Free feed, still actively seeks treats for reward training.

    I don’t think meal feeding is bad, I think that the style of feeding Strickland depends on the dog and you. But I say do what works best for everyone who is involved! :)

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  31. Xavier Cook says:

    Thanks for sharing your opinion. :)

    I feed my Shih Tzu twice in a day. I think it is up to you how you are going to take care of your dog. The main point in this is that you have to take extra care while feeding your lovely dog.

    The food should be of good quality.

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  32. Heather says:

    You’re also ignoring a third option, amount limited. I schedule feed wet and dry, but they come back to graze. They never receive more than the daily amount, I do “up to” if they hadn’t finished the day before. I put up the food only if there are less well behaved dogs around or a problem with mice. There’s no substitute for keeping a close eye on your dogs, either way.

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  33. Kabony says:

    I have a 10 year old rescue carin terrier mix 12 lbs i feed him. At 8 am and five pm he seems hungry all the time am i feeding him enoug hwhat should i do.

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    Minette Reply:

    A normal dog should be hungry all the time, this is what keeps them alive if they are on their own in the wild.

    If you want to add fiber and bulk to help him feel fuller fresh or frozen green beans. No canned because of the high salt intake!

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  34. Danny says:

    Have a 90% wolf and I feed him when ever he wants me too. {just kidding, he’s a sweetheart and loves girls-“Whose that I see walking in these woods?”}
    I feed him about twice a day, but sometimes another small serving an hour later. I think the serving size was a little too big(he left food behind) Now I “starve” him a bit.

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  35. Miss Cellany says:

    Free feeding definitely reduces or eliminates food guarding. That’s why dog pounds and shelters use free feeding here where there are multiple dogs in a cage and shelter workers are only there for a few hours a day to refresh food and clean the cages (if the dogs know there is ALWAYS food there is no need to guard it, it will still be there even after everyone else has had their fill). My border collie was free fed and never had an issue with guarding his food.

    Certain breeds prone to obesity (labradors for example) shouldn’t be free fed as they will overeat.

    My cats are free fed because I go away for weekends and don’t always have someone available to feed them for me. My current dog is meal fed only because she now refuses to eat most dry food and only eats wet food (which goes bad if left out too long).

    I think it’s a matter of what your dog (or cat) can handle and personal preference whether to free feed or not.

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  36. Jen says:

    I let my dogs free feed…but i only put in the recommended amount of food for the whole day in the bowl and sometines there are leftovers the next day. They eat when they are hungry 2-3xs a day but never eat it all at once. I notice they eat when I leave because I look in the bowl and there is either less or the same but never gone it takes them all day to eat it I just start again the next day

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