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Puppy feeding(13 Posts)
We're feeding our 4 month old cocker spaniel three times a day, and will cut this down to two meals a day from about 6 months.
Everything I've read suggests that you should only put food down for 20 mins and then remove what is not eaten in that time.
Our pup, unlike any other dog I've owned, is quite a speculative feeder. It can take him an hour or two (sometimes more) to finish his food, but it usually all goes.
As he's still a young dog I'd rather he ate properly, even if it takes a while. Is there any reason why I should be limiting his feeding opportunity at each meal?
Nope leave him be.
Removing food is more convenient for people but dogs would naturally scavenge through the day. My dog just grazes as and when he feels like it. Some dogs are good at self-regulating.
Removing food from dogs just risks creating food anxiety, or encourages them to bolt their food.
We did the "take it up after twenty minutes" thing and I don't regret it at all.
For us, we were planning ahead. As he got older, he wouldn't have the "luxury" of being able to graze when he felt like it as he wouldn't always be home to do so iyswim.
It also helped with toileting as you could predict when he'd go. A dog that has free access to food is going to go to the toilet more often than a dog that's restricted to set mealtimes.
At the end of the day though, it's personal preference and whatever works for your family and your dog. Mine is now on one meal a day at 4pm as that's what suits him. He never showed much interest in breakfast and we were wasting so much food trying to feed him twice.
Lots disagree with doing that but it works for us and he's happy and healthy, which is what matters.
With our working dogs we did 20mins then remove. My reasoning was to try and get the dog into more of a routine with feeding, toileting and exercise. Feed time was part of the training, I’d put the food down and make the dog sit and wait, then tell him when he can have his food. My other thought is it also makes it easier to monitor weight or if the dog is sick, as you know exactly how much and when they are eating.
We also put the food down and take it away if uneaten, partly because we usually have more than one dog and we would never know how much each was eating. As it is, I can adjust a dog's portion if it is looking a bit on the skinny or chubby side.
It reduces waste if you have a single dog that will just pick out the bits it wants. I have also always timed the major training session of the day to be before food, so that I have a hungry, food-motivated dog with me. After a really treat-heavy training session, the meal might be smaller. Mealtimes themselves can also be an opportunity to train a puppy to wait, recall and sit, with the bumper jackpot of dinner at the end of it.
Many thanks. It's very useful to hear all different views. Food for thought - excuse the pun!
Just a quick update, following on from all your helpful comments. We've been trying the 20 min thing and it's actually working really well. He's more interested in food at meal times, I suspect as he is actually ready for food as opposed to grazing on and off. He seems to eat what he wants in the first 10 mins and then doesn't go back to it after that. Thanks all, very helpful.
If you're feeding per the quantities on the packet, you may well be putting down too much. Mine would shovel down the lot and ask for more...
Yes, I'm following the guidelines but he doesn't seem to want/need it all... I guess it can only be a guide and each pup is different. I'm not used to having a dog that doesn't eat everything put in front of him!!
So long as he's growing well and has plenty of energy, he will be getting enough. You can cut down what you're giving him, but be prepared to increase it again if he starts to look skinny.
Limiting food times is convenient for owners for all the reasons mentioned. But it's not how dogs would naturally eat - it encourages them to eat faster (as already seems to be happening with OP's dog) as they know they'll lose it if it's not eaten, and in some breeds this can be problematic in terms of triggering bloat and other gastric issues.
It may also trigger resource guarding as the dog becomes more anxious about food being removed.
I think often we focus on what is convenient for us rather than what works for the dog in terms of natural history