How you feed your dog – the feeding ritual is important. Whether you are just beginning to set boundaries for a new puppy, or a recently adopted shelter dog OR are just now setting boundaries to improve behavior in your older dog, how you feed your dog can have a significant impact on your dog’s attitude. It can also impact his perception of his place in the pack. In addition to providing structure and expectations with the activity of eating, following are some good reasons to frequent feed (twice a day) instead of free feeding your dog:
- Frequent feeding is better. This is very helpful in house training a new puppy. Frequent feeding allows you to monitor intake and better house train your puppy. Knowing when and how much he ate can more easily be achieved with frequent feeding. Always feed a measured amount of food. With continuous feeding, you never know when your pup has eaten and it’s harder to know when he has to go potty.
- Easier to monitor whether he feels well. You’ll know the instant he goes off his food as a possible indicator that he is not feeling well. Impossible to do with free feeding.
- Food guarding opportunities kept to a minimum. Picking up his bowl after each meal helps to eliminate the possibilities of food guarding. Continuous feeding allows your dog to develop guarding instincts of his food bowl and the surrounding space. Don’t forget to pick up the bowl after 15 minutes.
- Feeding time = training time. Take the opportunity to work on the earn-to-learn program by doing sits and downs for his food. Dogs used to work for their food before domestication – so keep up the ritual.
- Kibbles as training treats. Use his food for training treats. Training him before he eats when his motivation is at its highest is best. He will begin to know you are important in his life because all good things are made available to him by you.
- Reinforce your leadership. Take twice a day feeding schedules to show strong leadership. Eat first, then feed your dog. This is further reinforced by requiring your dog to earn its food. By the way, an added benefit is that dogs who used to act frantically at mealtime, begin to settle down and wait patiently for their food.
Use mealtimes as an opportunity to work on leadership, training and appropriate behavior at a time that can be fraught with excitement, arousal and stress. Do not release him to eat until he is calm. Take advantage of this and remember…..”Opportunity Barks!”
Jim Burwell, founder Jim Burwell’s Petiquette