Free feeding..all you can eat buffet!

diet health puppy training

Worried about getting home in time to feed your dog? Worried your dog isn’t finishing his meals or maybe appears to be eternally hungry? Concerned that your dog is snarling or growling when you approach his food? Or are you frustrated that you simply cannot get to potty train your dog? Then maybe this blog will help guide you to the best method to feed your dog. This blog will elaborate more about free-feeding and its Pros and Cons.

So what is free feeding? Most of us know it or have done it with our dogs…it's primarily having food available for the dog at all times so they could feed when they are hungry. We top up their bowl when empty, but don’t necessarily pay attention to the quantity and duration taken to finish the bowl.

  • Nutrition: With this approach, many pet parents are convinced that their dogs are well fed and an active or growing dog’s needs are taken care of. Food is always present to nourish the dog, when needed! 
  • Behaviour: Many believe that such a feeding method resolves begging issues (who can resist those puppy eyes at the dining table!) 
  • No deprivation: Reduces parents’ anxiety to rush back home to feed the dog (this one is a big issue for most of us busy full time professionals). 
  • Resource guarding: Another strong contender for such a free feeding approach is the belief that when food is always available, one can desensitise the dog to guarding its food and issues related to food aggression can slowly be resolved 

BUT as rosy as this may sound, one needs to be aware of the other side to free feeding one’s dogs.

  • Obesity: Have you ever stopped to wonder if your dog is indeed capable of figuring out when he is full? Who among us hasn’t snacked when we’re bored, even if we’re not all that hungry? Dogs will do the same thing. My parent’s been out for awhile, I am bored, OH … I know, I’ll see what’s in the bowl! You certainly don’t want an obese dog! 
  • Potty training: How about never knowing when his bladder is full to take him out before a potty accident in the house! Right after a meal is the best time for pups to be taken out for a potty break, so this dog’s potty training may take longer than usual. 
  • Illnesses: For dogs, most illnesses begin with a loss of appetite which you can easily pick up when meals are going uneaten when offered, so this is the earliest sign for a vet visit and a good shot to cure whatever that ails the dog! You might easily miss out on this with free feeding. 
  • Creepy crawlies: Lastly, we live in a tropical country with many creepy crawlies giving us company in most urban settings. Leaving the dog’s food around will only invite more of such companions…UGH! Who wants that!!

So, are there other options to free feeding? Yes there are! 

Limited food quantity method, limited available time of food & hand feeding are other common approaches.

With limited food approach, you can consult with your vet on how much and what kind of food best suits your dog. With this, you can control the weight gain of your dog and also monitor any changing patterns of health with your pet. For most pet parents, this is a convenient option as an empty bowl means the dog has had enough nutrition at their preferred time. 

Limited time method is where you only have the food available to the dog for a short period of time and then pick up the bowl regardless of whether the dog has eaten it fully or not. This gives a little more structure to the dog’s day and can also ease your potty training habits.

For more information on hand feeding, visit our blog on the same 

So there you have it- free feeding, limited amount, limited time, hand feeding which one will work best for you and your pet? In order to figure that out or if you want to know how to transition your dog from one method to another…feel free to give us a buzz for a quick expert consultation! Each dog is unique, so we can help you in working out what works best for your family! 

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