Free Feeding

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***Melissa***
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Free Feeding

Post by ***Melissa*** » Mon Jan 11, 2010 9:09 am

Hi everyone

I know it is better to feed 2 to 3 meals a day (and I do that on weekends), but for my current lifestyle it's not always possible. :( So what I do is leave a bowl of dry food and a bowl of cooked food out for my 2 babies (Striker, a one year old Dachshund and Bibi, 2 month old Dachshund / Jack Russel mix) during the day, and when I get home at night I'll give them treats / bones after going for a walk or playing. I know it's not ideal, but I really don't have another option, and they don't eat immediately when I feed them. I also try to give them the best quality dog food possible, but I'm still researching what is best that's available here in South Africa. I don't want to overfeed them, so I don't give them huge bowls of food, but there's always food left when I return home - so I can't feed them again at night (I tried), but then they are not hungry. They are like my children, and I want to give them only the best.

So my questions are: Is free feeding really THAT bad, or will it be okay for me to feed them like this? Is there another way I should approach it? Am I overlooking something obvious that will help?

Oh, and I apologise for any spelling / grammar mistakes, as English is my 2nd language :D

Thank you :)
There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face. ~Ben Williams

Leigha
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Re: Free Feeding

Post by Leigha » Mon Jan 11, 2010 11:58 am

Depending on how much food you're leaving out, free feeding can lead to overweight pups as well as an inconsistent bathroom schedule. Your dogs might not want to eat as soon as you put their food down, but if you pick their food back up and they don't have the option to eat again until you put the food back down, they will eat.

What about your schedule prevents you from feeding them twice a month?

I'd just worry about the overweight thing for the doxies. I have two and we get up in the morning, put the food down for 20-25 minutes, then pick it back up and do the same thing in the evening. Sometimes they'll jump right on their food, others they won't, but once I pick it up they're done.

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Horace's Mum
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Re: Free Feeding

Post by Horace's Mum » Mon Jan 11, 2010 12:54 pm

Unless you are literally not there for 24hours (in which case who lets them out?), I'm sure you can find a way to feed them twice a day. Feed them when you get up in the morning, and feed them when you come home. My dog is fed twice a day, but he does not have set times because of my routine (or lack of!!) and his tendency to get very stressed if he expects his food at a certain time and it doesn't arrive. So his routine is to be fed breakfast at whatever time I get up, and fed tea sometime after 6pm.

Free feeding can cause problems with toiletting as mentioned above, but also it is harder to know exactly what each one is eating, so harder to control weight and harder to spot any problems such as refusing food due to illness. Also if you don't know when they eat then they might well be exercising on full stomachs which isn't much good for them either.

Just spotted that one of them is only 2 months old, this one really needs to be fed regularly and let out regularly if you want him to be toilet trained, and needs to be interacted with to make sure it is properly socialised. If you aren't at home during the day (which I assume is why you feel you need to free feed) then who looks after the pup?

Can you give us more information so we can help work something out for you?

Leigha
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Re: Free Feeding

Post by Leigha » Mon Jan 11, 2010 4:21 pm

Dear god, I just reread my post and noticed I asked "What about your schedule prevents you from feeding twice a MONTH." I meant twice a DAY! :shock:

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Re: Free Feeding

Post by emmabeth » Mon Jan 11, 2010 10:01 pm

Honestly - if you dont have the time to feed your dogs twice a day, you dont have the time to have dogs at all.

If you think thats harsh of me, I'm sorry but there it is - dogs need our time and attention and if you dont have that, you dont.

Or alternatively you do, but you dont know how to organise it/want to make that sacrifice for them.

So you need to have a good think about which this is because if you REALLY dont have the time to feed your dogs twice a day.... you need to find them new homes.

Your puppy needs three or four meals a day - your adult dog needs two meals a day. Free feeding them means they will gorge on food when its first put down (or they can....if they feel like it or one of them can and then the other misses out) and then starve the rest of the day, or they will pick out the nicest bits first...

You wont know that your pup is getting the food she needs or if the adult dog is eating it all.

Get up an hour earlier - put down a meal for each dog, and in fifteen minutes time, take it up again. If you can do this on weekends you can do it on week days too. Start on a weekend so that by monday they have got the idea that they have 15 minutes to eat the meal provided, and then its picked up and put away.

If you dont have someone coming over to take your puppy out to toilet you need to find someone - how long are you leaving her for during the day - if you free feed and leave her all day inside she is pretty much NEVER going to be toilet trained.
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***Melissa***
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Re: Free Feeding

Post by ***Melissa*** » Tue Jan 12, 2010 2:57 am

Thanks for all the replies!

Maybe I put it the wrong way. I feed them in the morning (it's the first thing I do when I get up), but because they don't eat immediately (sometimes they don't touch their food for like an hour or more after I gave it to them), I can't (don't want to) pick it up before I leave for work, because they haven't eaten & they'll get hungry during the day. I'm at work for 8 hours & if they don't eat before I go to work and I have to take the food away after say 20 minutes, then the first time they'll be able to eat again will be when I get home in the afternoon. Maybe I'm wrong, but that doesn't seem right to me either.

When I get back home there are still food left & I've tried to give them fresh food then, but they won't eat it then. (My guess is that they are full from eating during the day?) So what I meant by saying I can't feed them in the evening is that it's no use, because then they don't eat. My schedule only prevents me from feeding them during the day (the 8 hours when I'm at work). In the evening (their food are still available to them even then), we go for a walk (Striker and I - will take Bibi with us when she's a little bigger), and after that it's play time (with both of them). Then they each get a treat & a raw meaty bone - and they just love those!!!

During the day they have access to part of our living room (where their food, bed & blankets are) & backyard. I leave the door open for them, as my husband modified the security door so they can fit through easily. So they have lots of space to play & dig during the day when I'm at work (I think it's fine like that, don't think they are frustrated or anything). Fortunately they get along very well. I think Striker was a bit lonely during the day when we're at work, that's why we got Bibi. I don't really have problems with Bibi regarding toilet training, she prefers to go outside - and by having access inside & outside during the day it's not a problem at all. So there's no one during the day to look after her - wow, that sounds bad - but it's really safe, they can't get out, there are trees for shade, their beds & blankets & food are inside so that's fine for when it maybe rains. They just looooooove to dig, so I don't have any flowers left, lol, but that's fine. Oh, and I've made sure that there's no poisonous plants in my garden.

On weekends I feed them when I get up, leave the food for 3 - 4 hours (because only by then they will have eaten - Bibi will eat her's sooner, so I'm more referring to Striker), and then in the evening I feed them again - again leave the food for 3 - 4 hours. I fed Bibi 3 times during the day this past weekend (is that enough?), but I don't really have a schedule for her yet (on weekends), as she's only been with us for one weekend so far.

Emmabeth, I do have time to feed them twice a day, I think the first time I didn't explain it properly, but I tried to explain it better now (above). I know my dogs need my time & attention, and I give them that (except for when I'm at work of course). We don't go out at night. When we have to go somewhere, say friends invited us for dinner (not talking about going to work), we either take them with (when we can), and when we can't we organise a babysitter for them - we have to pay him, so I can't afford to hire him during the day when I'm at work. We only use him in evenings when we're not there, but that happens maybe once every 3 months or so. My doggies are my life & I'll do anything for them, and that's why I asked the question about free feeding. So I'm sorry if there was a misunderstanding :)

Now that I better understand the reasons as to why not to free feed & feeding for puppies, I know I'll have to work on that & make a plan. The puppy is only with us for a week now, so there have been a lot of changes in the past week - to accommodate Bibi & not to let Striker feel neglected. If you have any tips as to what will work or what I should try now that you know more about how thingies are at this stage, please share them.

Now I have another question. When I implement the "strict feeding times", I'll feed Striker in the morning & afternoon. Regarding Bibi - will it be okay to feed her in the morning, afternoon, and then later in the evening again? Or will the stretch from 8 to 5 be too long? And is 3 times enough? And also, how old must she be before I start feeding her only twice a day.

I hope I answered all the questions, and sorry for misunderstandings in my initial question. :D I really do give them a lot of love & attention (and my husband as well).
There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face. ~Ben Williams

Leigha
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Re: Free Feeding

Post by Leigha » Tue Jan 12, 2010 6:54 am

I promise you, after a few rounds of "Holy Crap, where'd the food go?" They'd eat the food once you put it down. Mine went through this after my mom dog-sat for us. She free-feeds her dogs so mine were eating with her dogs all day. Not only did they gain at least a pound each (we were gone only a week and a half and we have 2 very adult weenies so that's pretty bad) but they wouldn't eat their food right away. Well, they didn't get breakfast that first day because they didn't eat, and one of them didn't get dinner that night. But they both ate breakfast that next day.

You're not being cruel, you're not withholding food from your dog, you're just teaching your dog that they need to eat when the food is put down.

How big is the RMB? It might be that they're actually just not hungry in the mornings because they had that the night before?

Leigha
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Re: Free Feeding

Post by Leigha » Tue Jan 12, 2010 6:58 am

And all of that advice was in reference to the older pup, not the baby.

emmabeth
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Re: Free Feeding

Post by emmabeth » Tue Jan 12, 2010 1:11 pm

Ah ha, right.... whats happening is your dogs, especially the older one are kidding you... you fell into their trap!

Start this weekend, put down the food for ten minutes, after ten minute take it away (shut the puppy in another room with her food so theres no chance anyone is bullying anyone!).

Thats it until the next meal time, which for the puppy is going to be lunchtime, for the adult dog not until the evening.

Stick with it, the first day they are going to be hungry, but thats ok for one or two days thats not a problem. Repeat the same process in the evening and of course with the puppies middle of the day meal - down for ten minutes then away.

By monday your dogs should be eating breakfast - now for the puppy you do need someone to come in in the middle of the day to feed, theres really no way around that its NOT appropriate to leave a puppy without a meal in the middle of the day. You could leave her with a stuffed Kong toy in a Kong time timer... if shes seperated from the other dog, or you could if they wont scrap over them, put three kongs in the timer and set it to release those at lunchtime. They will all have to contain something suitable for the puppy as you have no way of making sure pup gets the right one. Reduce the adult dogs food to take into account the Kongs.

Really though someone coming in would be best to feed the pup and let them both out to toilet.

Believe me, if they arent eating their meals quicksmart by day four or five... they need to see a vet or the food you are feeding is bad.
West Midlands based 1-2-1 Training & Behaviour Canine Consultant

MPbandmom
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Re: Free Feeding

Post by MPbandmom » Sat Jan 16, 2010 9:05 am

I feed my dogs twice a day, and very often they don't eat their morning meal. They would rather be outside watching the squirrels. They are more likely to eat the morning meal after a busy day the day before. I divide their food and give about 1/3 in the morning and 2/3 in the evening. They maintain a good weight and I don't worry about them being hungry during the day. My dogs are adults.
Grammy to Sky and Sirius, who came to live with me, stole my heart, and changed my life forever as I took over their care and learned how to be a dog owner.

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***Melissa***
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Re: Free Feeding

Post by ***Melissa*** » Mon Jan 18, 2010 3:41 am

With Bibi - my baby - I didn't have any problems. She ate everytime I fed her, although she didn't empty her bowl. And I have someone who will feed her in lunch time during the week.

Okay, so I started to give Striker (the adult) two meals a day this weekend - He didn't have breakfast on Saturday, (I was so heart-broken, but tried to be strong & didn't feed in between meals). Saturday evening he ate about half of his food. Sunday morning he only took a few bites, & the evening he again ate about half. I left for work very early this morning, so my husband said he'll feed them, so I don't know how it went - he'll tell me tonight.

So I'm thinking that maybe I'm giving them too much food per meal? - Because there's food left every time? I feed them according to the instructions on the packages - can that then be too much?
There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face. ~Ben Williams

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Nettle
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Re: Free Feeding

Post by Nettle » Mon Jan 18, 2010 6:15 am

If they don't eat, don't stress. It isn't a rejection of your love - it's that they don't want to eat any more just now. :wink:
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

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maximoo
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Re: Free Feeding

Post by maximoo » Mon Jan 18, 2010 6:37 am

The suggested amounts on the package are almost ALWAYS too much. The dog food companies want it to run out faster so you'll by more! Tell us what food you are giving them & how much. It may be that they do not like that brand. :? Also you can jazz their food up a bit with a little cheese or pieces of meat/gravy, etc Or you can give them raw marrow bones or chicken wings/legs as a meal sometime. So tell us more about what they are eating.

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***Melissa***
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Re: Free Feeding

Post by ***Melissa*** » Mon Jan 18, 2010 7:53 am

This is what I give Striker (the adult)

The Dry Food I give them is Vet's choice; apperently it's the best quality dry food available here. (I live in a small town in South Africa, so I don't always have all the options to choose from). I'm can't remember the exact weight of a meal, as I use a scoop and I know it comes down to a little less than half a scoop per meal. (I only weighed it the first time to see how much of the scoop it is). Roughly I'd say it's a little over a cup full. This is now what I give them in the morning - I pour some gravy over (think it's Pedigree). Of that I use about a spoon gravy powder & half a cup water.

The evening meal consist of one of the following / sometimes a combination:
1. A ready made meal - one packet = one meal (again, I don't know how many grams, sorry). Usually pedigree, but it depends what's available when I go shopping. I usually give this with rice, so then it's half a packet mixed with the same amount rice. Rouhgly I'd say it's about a cup and a half.
2. Instead of a packet as above, I cook chicked livers / lean mince for him - give the same amount as the packet. Also sometimes mix with rice.
3. Sometimes I mix the 'meaty part' (the packet / chicken livers / mince) with vegetables. I try to vary it, but also not too much.

He gets a raw bone with some meat on it every night after we went for our walk as well & one or two small treats.

Sorry, if you need more specific info I'll have to get the spesific weights from the packaging tonight when I'm home.

I think Bibi (my baby) as she eats immediately when I feed her - even though she does not finish her food, she eats about 3/4 of it & I can see her tummy is full after a meal. So I think I may be feeding her a little too much, but at least she stops when she's not hungry anymore.

Do you think I'm more or less on the right track?
There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face. ~Ben Williams

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***Melissa***
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Re: Free Feeding

Post by ***Melissa*** » Mon Jan 18, 2010 7:56 am

Oh, it make sence what you said about the recommended portions. Just another think I wanted to ask? Won't it be difficult for them to digest cheese?
There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face. ~Ben Williams

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