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Self-regulated eating

5020 Views 8 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  LedZep
Our pup is almost 8 mos old. We've been feeding her twice a day since the beginning. About three mos ago she pretty much stopped eating in the am and switched to only eating at night. We've still been offering her the am feeding nevertheless and sometimes she'll nibble at it after she returns from her am walk or playing outside.

She has always been on the thin side and she's a pretty picky eater. She's never been especially "dog-treat" motivated but hot-dogs or chicken will get her to do just about anything. She's essentially housebroken, although we don't give her many opportunities to fail since she can go outside when she likes and she's crated at night or when we can't take her with us.

Anyway, I'm considering just filling her bowl in the am with all of her day's kibble and refilling it as she eats or possibly buying one of those food contraptions you fill a container and it refills the bowl as the pup eats. I think she might eat more (which the vet recommends so she can put on about 5 more lbs to get up to what the vet considers a healthier weight-she was 58 lbs at 6.5 mos and the vet would like her to be around 65lbs) if she could just nibble all day as she likes.

Any opinions or reasons this might not be a good idea?

Thanks in advance!
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I do not recommend you do this.

As much as she's a picky eater and doesn't seem food motivated, your current feeding method gives you an EXACT idea of when she eats, how much, and what is 'normal' for her.

And at least twice a day you get to check in on this to see if she's still 'normal' FOR HER.

One of the main indicators something is wrong with our dogs is when they CHANGE their eating behaviors. One of the first things our vets will then ask when we bring them in is how much are they eating and when was their last meal? When did we notice the change.

Since our dogs don't talk this is very important information I want to be able to give my vets as precisely as possible.

I only feed my GSD 2 cups of food a day (1 c in the am, 1 in the pm). If she nibbles and leaves the bowl I pick it up, and she still gets ONE cup at night.

To help with her being picky, I would add teeny bits of extra food to her kibble. Healthy stuff or small amounts that would get her started, and mixed with water to gravy and cover everything. Yogurt, sprinkle Parmesan cheese, any leftovers I have in the fridge.

Since I only use TINY amounts (tablespoon or so?) of the additive with the water, and the kibble is the balanced diet, that worked for us. So I would feel like a good mom that had her pup eat up all her food. As well as what she ate was good for her.
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<span style="color: #000099">I am from the other camp
My girl is on the skinny side,she eats about 4 cups a day. I give her 2 in the morning,if she eats that 2 more at night. I don't pick it up,just leave it there (with the exception of when I have a chow hound foster...then it will get picked up, but Zephyr will usually eat when we have a foster,that's when she gets to a better weight also.

I wouldn't just keep filling the dish up...I have fed all my dogs this way(except fosters) BUT,I ALWAYS measure,so I know exactly what they have eaten.

My Vet suggested adding some carbs to my dog's diet to get a little weight on her. She is just naturally thin....can you imagine???

OH let me add that I feed Innova which is a high quality food. Lower quality foods usuallly require more cups a day because of fillers.

One more thing...a puppy should be monitored more closely in the food department. I can't remember when I started free feeding, but definately not a puppy.</span>
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I'm in MRL's camp on this one. Other than what MRL already mentioned, the other thing that it did for me when Kayla was a puppy was give me a better handle on potty break times.
And I agree with MRL, but for a different reason---a behavior/training one. Free feeding means you lose out on a really important training opportunity every day. Control of the food is a big leadership cue. If the bowl is always full, and the dog can eat whenever, then you've given up that leadership quality.

With some dogs this may not be important. There are other ways to demonstrate leadership and create a bond with your dog. But food is such an important thing in most dogs' lives. For me, I want to be an active part of it.
And I agree with Luca_stl, feeding our dogs is another leadership role thing, that is simple for us and easy to do. I love the easy things!
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I free fed Clover(border/golden x) her whole life (12 years)til Onyx came on the scene. She wasn't overweight and when her dish emptied, it was refilled, granted it was kibble so she only ate when she really was hungry. Well, even if I didn't have three dogs now, I would never free feed again. This site has taught me that the dogs do need to know where their food comes from #1, and #2 weight control...I guess, if you have an active, easy going dog , free feeding is ok, but most GSD's need to have that control in the hands of their owner. Now that Clover is raw-fed, she still will stop eating when she is full. Onyx on the other hand will eat til the cows come home...
Based on your description of how your dog eats, I tend to agree with you. My German Shepherds are not pigs, they just eat when tey like to, and I have no problem with that. They are very active and well-proportioned.

On the other hand, my son has a dog that could digest an entire cow, and would. So Dozer's feeding is much more controlled.

For whatever reason I think it depends on the dog, and am a bit suprised at some of the folks that disagree with this opionion.
I agree with MRL and Luca_stl. You need to control and keep track of the pup's diet, and it is a good leadership function to "give" the food. Though, I don't pick mine up either, since he sometimes picks at it over time.

Right now, my pup (same age as yours) is also exhibiting a lack of appetitie. I attribute it to the hot weather and lack of activity. Sometimes I will put his dish in his crate with him and he will eat better.
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