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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-21-2012, 12:45 PM Thread Starter
Dave T
 
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Free Feeding ?

For those not familiar with the term, free feeding is when you leave food out in your dogs bowl and they can eat at their own discretion. I chatted with Heather (heatherk) about this privately, and she had some interesting questions. So I thought I would share some comments by Sabine , who I asked about this topic. Here is what Sabine said from a nutritonal point of view.

From experience I can tell you that free feeding is NOT a good idea. Several reasons:

1. Free feeding only works with kibble, which is simply the least ideal type of food to feed, due to its highly processed nature.
2. Very few dogs actually self-regulate well enough to just eat enough to maintain a healthy weight. Sure, such individuals do exist (I've had one of my own), but they are very rare exceptions. Also, see #1.
3. If you don't feed scheduled meals, it's much harder to realize when an animal is off their feed due to stress, discomfort, pain, illness.
4. In our times, with many dogs being couch potatoes and not even getting the mental stimulation of regular walks (let alone more vigorous exercise, like performing in dog sports or doing actual work), meal times are a major highlight of their day, something they very much look forward to. Why take away one more of the few major stimulants?
5. House training. If you control when food goes into your dog, you can reasonably predict when it's going to come out the other end. Not so with free feeding.

And 6. which I throw in...The biggest thing with free feeding is that your dog is not as motivated for food rewards when training. Nearly all trainers want you to bring your dog in HUNGRY when coming in for classes. It's the number one motivator with dogs,some definitely more than others. Kibble is the least motivating generally. And depending on the type of training situations ,it's better to use something more enticing than kibble.

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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-21-2012, 03:23 PM
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Great info and I've been trying to figure out what to do about Timmy. He's almost 13 weeks old, my breeder gave me Taste of the Wild kibble to feed him, 1/3 cup three time a day. Timmy is not a huge eater, seems to be too busy to eat, and rarely eats his who 1/3 cup in one sitting so I just leave it out. Sometimes he gets his three meals in some days he doesn't. I'm not too concerned since he's growing, eating and popping and peeing regularly. He doesn't ever get more than what is recommended for him, but he seems to be more of a grazer. I've been trying to cut back on his treats when he goes potty, he doesn't get any treats when he goes outside which is most of the time but you know how many times a puppy pees? He gets boiled chicken breast as his treat. I have noticed though that he pretends to go pee on his pad and comes running over for a treat so of course he doesn't get anything then.

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-21-2012, 03:42 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jabojenny View Post
Great info and I've been trying to figure out what to do about Timmy. He's almost 13 weeks old, my breeder gave me Taste of the Wild kibble to feed him, 1/3 cup three time a day. Timmy is not a huge eater, seems to be too busy to eat, and rarely eats his who 1/3 cup in one sitting so I just leave it out. Sometimes he gets his three meals in some days he doesn't. I'm not too concerned since he's growing, eating and popping and peeing regularly. He doesn't ever get more than what is recommended for him, but he seems to be more of a grazer. I've been trying to cut back on his treats when he goes potty, he doesn't get any treats when he goes outside which is most of the time but you know how many times a puppy pees? He gets boiled chicken breast as his treat. I have noticed though that he pretends to go pee on his pad and comes running over for a treat so of course he doesn't get anything then.
Hi Jen, not quite sure what you're trying to train for. Reward for both, even periodially, if you're trying to accomplish both. ?

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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-21-2012, 08:47 PM
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Do you think he's not eating his regular food at one sitting because he's getting too many treats for using his pee pads? When do you get to the point of not giving treats to reward a behavior? Should I start weaning him off treats gradually so he might be more hungry to eat his meals quicker so I'm not leaving food out all day? Did I make more sense?

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-21-2012, 09:02 PM
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I wholeheartedly agree with Sabine. We have never free-fed our dogs for all of the reasons you've stated. Rule #'s 2 & 3 are especially critical when you have more than one dog.

Wanda & Pepper
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-21-2012, 09:58 PM
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Add me to the "no free feeding club", for all six reasons that Sabine lists.

-Julia
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-22-2012, 07:06 AM
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Nice read! Thanks for posting it!



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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-22-2012, 11:43 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jabojenny View Post
Do you think he's not eating his regular food at one sitting because he's getting too many treats for using his pee pads? When do you get to the point of not giving treats to reward a behavior? Should I start weaning him off treats gradually so he might be more hungry to eat his meals quicker so I'm not leaving food out all day? Did I make more sense?
Jen , you're possibly right there. That's one drawback sometimes when we use higher value treats for training. They can learn to wait sort of speak. But three feedings is still good for young pups , just put it down for ten minutes, and then pick it up if he doesn't eat. He'll eventually eat what he needs once he learns it disappears. They are sometimes more patient than we are .

Dave and Molly
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-22-2012, 04:34 PM
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Good reasons for no free-feeding. I can add one more - with multiple dog households, you can never be sure each dog is getting their own fair share. I also think the one exception is for young puppies, who are getting used to solid food feedings.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-22-2012, 06:18 PM
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I do not free feed for all the reasons stated, I also supervise feed times, my guys all get different amounts according to their weight and activity level, I do give treats freely through out the day, (potty time, little training practice in the kitchen), my guys eat twice small meal in morning, I always give dinner even on training class days. If I think my guys are eating too much, I increase their exercise and cut the portion size. I Do make them work for the treats (even after potty) and they really do look forward to meal time, in a dogs world it is a happy event, come to think of it my world too.

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