How to feed your dog is an age-old debate that we get asked about weekly at our dog training facility in Northern Virginia.
I will give you my personal opinion on this subject, and just to be fair, I will give you some of the pro’s and con’s of each.
My personal belief is that it is more beneficial and generally healthier for your dog to meal feed verse free feed. There are many reasons that I feel this way, which I will list below:
Pro’s of Meal Feeding:
-Generally, if your dog is sick or something is wrong with them, they won’t eat. When free feeding, it generally takes much longer for the owner to notice.
-When you do the meal feeding with a puppy, it gets their digestive system on a schedule; therefore, you can predict when your puppy needs to go to the restroom which will greatly help expedite their housebreaking process.
-Food revolves around YOU, the owner. Which aids in establishing pack leadership.
-You control how much the dog eats, preventing your dog from bloating or becoming obese.
Con’s of Meal Feeding:
-You can forget to feed your dog a meal if you get busy
-You could be overfeeding or underfeeding; however, with monitoring their eating, you can know when to adjust.
Free Feeding Pro’s:
-The dogs do not feel pressure to eat, because they know food is always available
Free Freeding Con’s:
-Delays potty training
-Many dogs will eat out of boredom
-This can make them less motivated for treat training
-It is harder for the owner to notice if the dog is sick, because it’s harder to tell if they are eating or not
-Many dogs will overeat
Keep in mind, it is proven that a healthier way for humans to eat is by eating small portioned meals throughout the day; therefore, I would assume the same is true for dogs. There are many pro’s to meal feeding and very few pro’s to free feeding (in my opinion).
Generally, I have found dogs that free eat, are often times over weight (much like people who eat all throughout the day with no regulation).