Food in bowl at all times or 2-3 times a day feeding? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-11-2018, 11:40 AM Thread Starter
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Food in bowl at all times or 2-3 times a day feeding?

Breeder says leave food in bowl always. Less food protection problems and they will self regulate and never get fat.

Vet says never leave food in bowl. Feed twice a day or he will get fat and sick.

Any thoughts on this? I respect both my breeder and my Vet. Right now he is getting 3/4 cup twice a day of Orijen large breed puppy. A few treats during the day (Orijen treats). Breeder suggested giving two eggs scrambled each day with some grated cheese room temp. for first 4 weeks or so as a protein boost. Puppy almost died in the first two days we had hime from Coccidia. Bloody diarrhea and vomiting really dehydrated him. IV fluids, antibiotics, stomach meds, and Albon for deworming and he is a rock star now at 8 weeks. He healed very quickly. Now if I could just get him to stop biting my wife (play mouthing, but it hurts).
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-12-2018, 01:42 AM
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Free feeding can work, but I've read a lot and talked to people a lot. Not every dog can 'self-regulate.' Besides, leaving food out for 24 hours or more will be bad for the food itself. I've never free feed my pup, probably never will. I've fed him 2-3 times a day, controlled portion. Adding toppers like scrambled eggs is fine too. But CAREFUL, you wouldn't want your pup to grow up a finicky eater. It's a hard behaviour to modify.
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-12-2018, 06:36 AM
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Do you use food for training? If so, free access to food will lead to food being less of a reinforcer. I think free feeding is a bad idea. The dog should be hungry at feeding time and eat all the food. If he leaves any or isn't hungry, he is getting too much food.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-12-2018, 08:28 AM
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Your puppy sounds like he had a really rough time! Great that he is feeling better.

Our rescue was a free-fed dog - probably for the same reason your breeder mentioned, which was to avoid resource guarding issues.
A dog who feels that food is precious, may feel the need to defend it! Although he was free-fed, he was not fat, and looked fine.

However I changed him to 2 meals a day:
1. We were doing an obedience class, and I needed him to really be interested in the treats I was using
2. More predictable poop/potty times. Regular eating times ---> regular poop times ---> knowing when to take him out, which was really helpful after we first got him

He has not shown signs of food guarding because of the change.
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-12-2018, 08:59 AM
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I have had many GSDs and never had a dog that protective of his food from the bowl.
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-12-2018, 09:00 AM
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I think it depends on the dog, the situation at home, what type of food, and how you use food beyond mealtime.

If you have a dog that does not just try to scarf it all down at once, there's no other dogs eating "his" food, it's a dry kibble, and you don't use dog food for training or reward - then sure, why not free feed as long as you are keeping tabs on the amount and keeping it fresh daily.

If any of those are not true, then I would personally not free feed. I've done both, and personally prefer free feeding...because it's easier. However, with Nash - we cannot. He will scarf food like crazy, and we use his kibble as more than just lunch. We use it for lures, along with his treats - we use it in a Kong treat toy, along with treats - we also feed him one meal a day in his crate, when we eat supper. It's also easier to monitor and control an even amount of food throughout the day when you provide meals.

I will say that adding toppers or special surprises on food for free feeding does not work as well as with portion controlled feeding, in my experience. As for food aggression, I think about 75% of that is the dog, not the feeding method unless there is actual competition for food. But, you can work on guarding, aggression etc. whether free feeding or portion controlling.
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-12-2018, 09:45 AM
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I have always fed meals. They are measured out, so I know what they are eating when. It also helps with housebreaking.

I have a non-GSD resource guarder. It's just the way he is. It has nothing to do with food being down vs meals, or putting hands in the bowl and/or picking up the bowl. Some dogs are prone to be resource guarders. Some are not. The dogs who are not prone to be resource guarders will not be, no matter how you handle their food. 'Natty Boh' is the only resource guarder I have ever had.
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-12-2018, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by moparharn View Post
Breeder says leave food in bowl always. Less food protection problems and they will self regulate and never get fat.
Sorry, I've never had a dog that wouldn't just eat and eat and eat if there was constantly food in the bowl. Regular mealtimes are also an opportunity for some training, such as impulse control. As others have mentioned, you'll also know how much he's eating and can increase or cut back as necessary to maintain optimum condition.

And actually, if there was always food in the bowl it seems like a dog that has a propensity to food guard would be more likely to do so. Why guard an empty bowl?

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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-12-2018, 11:26 AM
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I’d feed a puppy 1/4-1/2 its daily food by hand luring to you, with you or any position you’d like it to be in and never free feed. I can’t imagine training a pup that isn’t food motivated.
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-12-2018, 12:27 PM
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Free feed?? NO!!!

Every time I see someone with a pet (dog or cat) that's grossly overweight, I ask if they free feed. The answer is almost always 'Yes'!
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