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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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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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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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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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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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Breeder says leave food in bowl always. Less food protection problems and they will self regulate and never get fat.
:rofl: :rofl: :rofl: 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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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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I feed 1/2 free and 1/2 by hand. Never had an over weight dog or one unwilling to train, but food i normally never use as an incentive for training just for bonding.
 

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We feed our 10wk old pup twice a day (she was already on a twice a day schedule at 8 weeks from the breeder so we decided not to go back to three times a day). we started feading from a bowl but she wolfed it down so fast that we changed to feeding out of Kong's. This slows her down and gives her something to think about while she's eating. keeping her mind busy trying to figure out how to get the food out of the conch is a great way to help her sleep at night also.

We follow the calorie intake recommendations on the bag, and save a little on the side to stuff Kongs for naptime/crate time or to use for hand feeding during training.

She will get bonus protein sources from time to time, like some cooked ground turkey from taco night before we have the seasoning, or scrambled eggs or even the raw eggs rwsidue out of the bowl after scrambling.

She gets ziwi peak lamb treats for training as well because they are higher value and sometimes freeze-dried liver.

For treats and snacks she will occasionally get blueberries or pomegranate seeds. But we limit the fruit intake because it's a lot of sugar.

she usually has fairly free access to water but sometimes she spills her water bowl and then gets put up so we try to remember to give her water just before going out. Water gets taken up at 7:30 p.m. and she goes from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. in the crate without a peep.

more information than you wanted I'm sure but I'm trying to be complete. ?
 

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When we were much younger, my brother and I lived together for a couple years. He had a male Doberman that he free fed, and I had a female GSD that was not. For his Dobe, my brother would just bring home 40# bags of dog food, open the top all the way across and roll down the sides a bit, and that was his dog's food bowl for the next month or so. My brother would periodically roll the edges down as the food disappeared and that was it! His dog was always very trim and well muscled, and never over ate.

My GSD, on the other hand, would eat until she popped if she had access to food...But she would not under any circumstances get into the food bag. I truly believe she would have starved herself to death, with the open bag of dog food right there, if no one put food into her bowl! On the flip side, if you put 12 cups of food into her bowl she wouldn't leave until she'd eaten every last kibble LOL! In her later years it was hard to keep her trim, so close regulation of her food was a must. I don't know if this was a genetic thing or a personality thing, but free feeding would have shortened her life for sure!

For me, especially considering the training value of food, I would never free feed a dog. But clearly it does work for some...
 

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:rofl: :rofl: :rofl: 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?
I agree with most everything you said. Except.... the empty bowl. My resource guarder WILL guard an empty bowl. He is, however, a neurotic butt hole. I got nothin'. lol!
 

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My dogs regulate. I put 4-5 cups of food each in their bowls whenever I see it empty. Typically have to fill them every other day. One of my dogs has a guarding issue due to living with my ex girlfriends dog when he was a puppy. That horrible dog would eat his food in front of him and bully him out of it unless I was watching, so now he guards. They both have identical bowls too and are on the same food so that doesn't help, but given his upbringing it's expected. If you have one dog, I wouldn't worry about guarding. My dogs have no issues with humans being near their food, I could put my face next to the bowl and they wouldn't care or put a hand inside the bowl without issue. Prior to having both dogs, I fed once a day, the switch was made due to my GSD being extremely underweight when I got him and not having much interest in his food. I let him eat when he felt like it. They're both lean and free feed but every dog is different.

Side Note: This hasn't changed the value of treats/food as training rewards for either dog, they're still very food driven even though they are free fed. I know this won't be the case for most dogs however.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I really appreciate all of the good advice. Thank you! At this point I am feeding three times a day 1.5 cups morning, one cup mid day, and 1.5 cups evening. I switched from Orijen to Purina Pro Plan Focus Large Breed Puppy. The Orijen was giving him some diarrhea and the Purina does not. I am over feeding by one cup according to Purina bag, but my dog is skinny as a rail. Not sure if this is normal or if I should feed him until he starts to look a little "bigger" "Cubby" whatever. He may be lean, but he has endless energy. Is it safe to assume that as long as he is highly active and not having diarrhea that he is doing ok as far a food and amount? Some people scoff at Purina. I did A LOT of reading and feel that the higher end Purina food is really very good as long as your dog can tolerate the grain (corn). My dog seems to like it. Nestle has the highest food standards in the world and they supposedly apply these standards to their Purina dog food as well. Also have lowest incidence of recall that I can see. Purina spends more money on research and also spends outside their walls as well. Who knows. What a rabbit hole.
 

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I free feed and she self regulates like a champ. She’s actually the first dog I’ve had that can be free fed. I couldn’t trust my other dogs to not overeat. So it definitely depends on the dog. I have noticed it helps substantially with resource guarding.
 

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I have 2 GSD pups, a 3 yr old Shepard mixed breed and a Maltese, my female pup does really well with her feedings but, my male pup growls and barks at the Maltese if she gets to close to his food and he pees when he growls, can free feeding help with this issue?
 
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