The idea of a feeding schedule is to have a dog eating at regular scheduled meal times with specific amounts of food. Young puppies under 6 months, can be fed 3 times a day. From 6 months to 1 year, a dog can be feed twice a day and after 1 year, one meal a day is sufficient.
As far as how much to a feed a dog, it is recommend to follow the instructions provided on the particular brand of dog food purchased. Most of the charts will determine the number of cups a day the dog should eat based on its age and weight. Take the total number of cups recommend and divide that by the number of meals the dog is being fed. Of course, that recommended amount can be adjusted slightly based on the dogs individual needs. For example, dogs that spend most of the day outdoors tend to need more food during the winter to maintain their ideal weight since they are burning more energy just to maintain their body heat in the cold.
During the dog’s schedule meal time, give them 3-4 minutes to eat its food. If the dog begins to lose interest and focus, take the food away after the three minutes is up and do not feed the dog until the next scheduled meal time. A dog in the wild quickly learns that food is a precious commodity. When a dog in the wild loses interest, the other dogs in the pack do not save parts of their kill for that dog to eat at a later time. The dogs will stay focused on eating because they don’t know when their next meal is going to be. This develops what is referred to as “food drive”. The same type of drive can be established in the domesticated dog through scheduled feedings.
Free feeding (keeping the your dog’s bowl filled with food and letting it eat whenever it wants to, in whatever volume) seems easy and convenient to many owners, however, p lacing your dog on a feeding schedule has numerous benefits over free feeding.
First, it is much easier to help a dog maintain its ideal weight with a feeding schedule. Dogs that are free fed often become overweight. Just like in humans, obesity in dogs can lead to numerous health issues such as hip problems.
Second, a dog that is on a feeding schedule always eats its entire meal very quickly. This is an excellent way to gauge the health of the dog. When a dog has a health problem such as intestinal worms or some other parasite, one symptom is often a loss of appetite. If a dog that is on a feeding schedule suddenly shows a lack of interest in its meal, it is an immediate sign that there is something wrong.
Third, food is a wonderful tool when rewarding a dog for a desired behavior during obedience training. When food is used as a reward with a dog with strong food drives, the dog becomes very eager and happy to train.
Lastly, feeding schedules make housebreaking much easier. A dog that eats at the same time every day will tend to have bowel movements at approximately the same time every day. When an owner knows roughly when to expect a bowel movement, it decreases the chances of an unexpected accident.
Joel Monroe is the head trainer at Big Valley Dog Training and has been involved in dog training for over 13 years. As one of the leading experts in the business, Joel trains over 135 dogs each week with clients ranging from family pets to police canine units. Whether it be obedience, tracking, agility, hunting, or protection, he has a wealth of knowledge and experience that keeps him in extremely high demand. As a result, he is also the main protection training helper for clubs in Menlo Park, Bakersfield, Turlock, and Fresno.