Free feeding - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-27-2014, 03:36 AM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Free feeding

Hi I have an 18 week old GSD and until recently he was free feeding but our trainer told that we cannot continue this she told us to put his food out and if he hadn't ate it within 15 minutes then lift it then give him nothing until his night feed then again lift it after 15 minutes she said it should take 3 days!! We are now on day 5 but he's still not eating his food in one go and I am worried he is not getting enough food can anyone help should we continue this or go back to free feeding??
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-27-2014, 03:47 AM
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I wouldn't go back to free feeding...

Maybe you can add something tasty to the kibble to get your pup to finish it in one go? I usually add less than a half teaspoon of mayo and it does the trick. You can also tapper down the amount till you don't need to add anything any more...

Also, make sure you're not over-feeding as most dogs even after they get their daily requirements of food will want more.

Last edited by Zeeva; 03-27-2014 at 03:49 AM.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-27-2014, 06:54 AM
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I agree with Zeeva. Don't go back to free feeding. My parents free feed and it is a pain when I watch their dogs. For me, it's hard to tell which dog ate and how much. So you're always guessing. Let me also say they have three little dogs and have one of those free feeder bins.

My two are on a schedule. Luckily they were very easy to train this way. They eat everything in about 5 - 10mins. My lab is like clock work. When the alarm goes off in the morning, she KNOWS its time to eat...typical lab. My Shepherd goes off her...if it were up to them, they'd eat and eat...which isn't healthy at all. With a picky eater, I would check to see the amount your feeding might be too much. If the amount is okay, adding something to make it more appetizing. Eventually as the dog learns when to eat, wean him off the add in. Once he understands the routine, I think you'll see how much easier it is and healthier. Your are regulating the dog's food intake, not them. Free feeding allows the dog to eat all day, which can cause weight gain. Extra weight on any dog leads to additional health problems, which we all want to avoid! Good luck!


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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-27-2014, 09:53 AM
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Another possibility is that he's not crazy about what he's eating. Maybe you should experiment with other kibbles. Most of my dogs have been somewhat choosy about the kibbles they like.

'If you find a way to enjoy the ride, it doesn't really matter where you end up'

5 GSDs at the gate: Katie, Iroc, Red, River, Jake
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-27-2014, 10:38 AM
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I free fed Traveler from day one. Sure, it depends on the dog but with him, he ate so much and left the rest. He was never a little piggy and had no competition at the food bowl so he just ate when he felt like it.
I was positive he liked the food so I wasn't worried. He's never been fat and matter of fact, he's rather light at 90 lbs.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-27-2014, 10:44 AM
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Our boy would be a grazer if we let him.

The vet suggested adding a tbsp or so of quality wet food - we use Wellness CORE or Blue Wilderness and he LOVES it. Gobbles up his kibble at a nice rate, and I always dump any little bits that are left after about 20 mins or so.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-27-2014, 11:45 AM
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A few ideas:

How much are you feeding "in one go", maybe its too much? Maybe he is eating what he needs and leaves the rest? I would try measuring out a set amount (I always gauge feeding by body condition not "what the bag says", but sometimes what the bag says is a good starting point, then just adjust from there) and putting it down, let him eat his fill. Whatever is left over, you cut from his next meal. He is telling you he doesn't need that much. I would offer that same amount 2 times a day, about 12 hours apart. If you notice that as he grows he licks his bowl clean and looks for more, I would add another 1/4 cup at a time until you meet his need, then just maintain that until his needs change again (ie growth, exercise etc)

Try some HEALTHY add ins - Pumpkin, plain yogurt, organ puree (If you feed kibble, you can boil heart, kidney, liver then put it through the food processor), coconut oil, salmon oil, broth (no salt) - you wouldn't do these all at once of course, but you could start with one thing, add about a tsp, and build to a couple tablespoons over a few days. Do that with each, then start a rotation. It should take about a month to introduce several toppers.

Make eating fun - try a kong! I use any of the toppers, mixed with kibble, stuffed into a kong then freeze overnight/all day. Then feed to your pup frozen, it will provide at least an hour of fun (sometimes more!)

Or, if you have a fenced grassy area (yard), you can take the whole bowl of kibble and throw it across the lawn. Watch as your baby puppy "tracks" his dinner through the grass!
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-27-2014, 11:53 AM
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I guess in a sense I free feed, since I measure out his food and leave it. I feed twice a day, but if he doesn't eat right away I just keep it down. Sometimes he will eat it later in the day, occasionally I end up throwing the morning food out when it is dinner time. I do mix food in with the kibble to get him to eat sooner. Sometimes even just a little bit of a can of dog food (a few tablespoons). Just enough to cover the dry works. But I don't free feed in the way that he can just eat however much he wants. It is measured out with a measuring cup.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-29-2014, 06:31 AM
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I think the big thing is the quality of the food and the weight, growth rate of the puppy. Our breeder recommended having food available at all times, we only have the one dog & it's working just fine. Her weight is good and she eats when she wants, unless crated. She is loose in the house most of the day.

I mix about 35% puppy food into her adult Science Diet dry food. I don't put anything special on the food. More is not always better with food intake or weight.
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