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Free Feeding Dogs

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  • #21
    I free feed my clumber spaniel Darcy Wellness kibble and give him a half a can of Wellness wet food twice a day. He really eats very little kibble - and when he does he's funny to watch - he will lay there asleep with his chin on the bowl and wake up every now and then and take a mouth full chew it, then go back to sleep. I kiddingly call him my lazy eater. But eating has really been a problem for him since he was a puppy. Before I "discovered" Wellness (and he will only eat the lamb and sweet potato flavor) he would go days without eating anything. For the first couple years I would sit there and have to hand feed him and beg him to eat. He was so frustrating. We were trying to show him and the judges would always say he was too thin (they like the clumbers on the chunky side). I tried a RAW diet (he wouldn't touch it) and numerous other dog foods and he absolutely wouldn't touch them. Finally I tried the Wellness on the advice of a friend but almost passed that over because I tried the "wrong" flavors first and he refused to touch them. Now at seven years old he has finally filled out but he would never overeat through free feeding. He still won't touch any kind of doggy treat though or a lot of people foods. He is a funny dog...


    • #22
      "They" say there are two kinds of dogs...those who "eat to live" and those who "live to eat". My Border Collie/Jack Russell, Pyrenes and Pappilon cross are in the first group, the two German Shepherds are in the second group!!! The Shepherds would kill 50 pounds of food in a hurry and/or explode...whichever came first!! We feed three times a day and everyone is happy!!
      Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma


      • #23
        Ditto for our porkie Rat Terriers...

        Originally posted by danceronice View Post
        OUR dog? No. She's a beagle-basset mix and would eat until she exploded.

        Other dogs? Might work.
        I'm with you, DancerOnIce We have two PIGLET Rat Terriers that would eat themselves silly if given a chance.

        But, we also have a Rottie that's not "that into food" and before he came to live with the Ratties, he was free-fed just fine. Didn't pig out at all....stayed nice and lean/fit. In fact, when he came here, because we couldn't free-feed him - and he wasn't a real foodie - we had to ENHANCE his food so he'd eat it all in one serving (twice/day) What a spoilded Rottie!

        My parents' poodles were always free-fed. They aren't piggy either.

        Just depends on the dogs! (oh, we always have a doggie door from house to big yard....)
        Equine & Pet Portrait Artist
        **Morgans Do It All**


        • #24
          I free feed my two, always have. They don't overeat and are not overweight. I wait until the bowl is empty (so I can wash it) before refilling so I have a pretty good idea how fast/much they are eating.

          I free feed the cats, too. In that case, I do feed them a lower calorie dry food because one of them does get fat if I don't.

          I suppose if I had an animal that needed emergency surgery that might be a problem, but I've had these dogs for nine years and had no issues yet. The times either of them have been off their feed they showed other symptoms.
          Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
          EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


          • #25
            I free feed my barn dogs. The get a huge rubber horse feeding tub filled with Diamond Low Fat dog food with joint supplements already in the mix. They have always been feed that way and they do GREAT! My farm dogs are labs and a fuzzy medium size mixed breed. Ages: 5, 12, & 18 The Pomeranian feels it is OK to free feed on dry cat food in the house He is 3 and also eats the dry dog food with the barn dogs. With the exception of the 12 yr old yellow lab - who was morbidly obese when we adopted her 6 years ago - they are all svelte and muscular. The yellow lab doesn't over eat, she has hypothyroidism and is on medication for that.

            Down side? The chickens love the dog food too.
            "If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there"


            • #26
              we(my family and me) have alays free fed our dogs for as long as we've had dogs and never had trouble with anybody getting to fat.

              with that dogs(and cats) we just fill the bowl whenever its empty and none are overweight.

              my dog whos a border collie/german shepherd cross gets fed twice a day but thats cuase she an out door dog...she get her bowl filled in the AM and again in the PM and both times the bowl is never completely empty so i know she doesn't pig out on her food

              i would like to find her a higher protein/fat food as she always been lean...and sometimes too lean cause of her high energy and would like to find a food that'd keep her at a more consistant weight.
              Crayola Posse: RedViolet

              "Horses - If God made anything more beautiful, he kept it for himself"


              • #27
                Yups... Just about the only way to keep weight on our two "snackers". Surprising even to our vet who constantly asks how we keep them in "a good healthy weight". Both Hounds ~ 1) a 6 year old ~ 12# Dachshund who just likes little snacks throughout the day, and is pretty much pure muscle with no fat on her. 2) a 3 year old ~ 65# Bassett who sits down to eat for about 2 minutes at a time throughout the day.

                They get their food bowl filled 1x a day (about 4 cups dry) - at night during the summer and in the morning during the winter. And it's usually just about empty within 24 hours. Once a week we do put out a separate bowl with a can of food - now THAT they will sit down and eat right away

                During the winter they are inside at night, thus why we put their food out in the morning. And to help the Dachshund in the winter we do add about a 1/2 cup of canned food that we make available to her in the house overnight. The Bassett is crated at bedtime in the house, while the Doxie gets the run of the house.

                My old boy was a "monster dog" - at his prime weighing 218lbs muscled. He was a Bull Mastiff / Rott / Newfoundland mix. But he would ONLY eat overnight - regardless of when you put food out, and he would only eat about half his bowl...so we free fed him as well and just tossed whatever he left before the next feeding. Sadly he had several health problems from his orginal owners letting him get obese as a young pup, but he lived to be 8 before a massive heart attack took him.


                The barn cats on the other hand - they get dry food put out once a day, and a can of wet every now and then for the variety (and to keep the oldest one happy). But they are done with that in a few minutes. Not that they are starving the goal is to feed them enough to keep them healthy, but not enough that they have no interest in their jobs of keeping it mice free around the farm.
                Crayola Posse~ on the bus in Mahognany


                • #28
                  my husbands hounds are free fed, they live outside 24/7 in what used to be my riding ring, he fenced it in and built them a house, they have 2 50 lb food feeders out there, they are very fit ad don't have any food issues, it doesn't get extremely cold in the part of virginia where i live
                  i think they look fitter than my indoor pet dogs, all of whom are fat and a major feeding production number in the morning, who can eat with who, making sure everyone gets fed in the right order and right place


                  • #29
                    I have a Lab and a JRT who are certain that they are starving all the time. I think if I set the 35# open dog food bag down in front of them, they would never come up for air until it was gone. So no, free feeding in my house won't work.


                    • #30
                      I have always free fed all my dogs and cats that I have ever owned and have not had a problem with a single one. They are all healthy and happy. It really upsets me when I see people only feed their dogs/cats once a day and they literally attack the food. Can you imagine only eating once a day?!?! If people can't free feed them, please at least feed them twice a day!!!!
                      RIP Sucha Smooth Whiskey
                      May 17,2004 - March 29, 2010
                      RIP San Lena Peppy
                      May 3, 1991 - March 11, 2010


                      • #31
                        I don't free feed any of my three (two corgis and my BigBlackDog).
                        We have breakfast and dinner, and if someone doesn't finish eating in 10 minutes, well, that's it until the next mealtime.
                        I think it's really important to know what and when the dogs eat - with my crew, loss of appetite is a very clear symptom that something is wrong. Another reason for me is because I train obedience and agility - I need to know when the dogs ate, because it just isn't fair to them to ask them to run around an agility course on a full stomach, and also because I do use food as a reward when we train.

                        And the big dog needs to stay lean, as his hind end isn't the best, and the corgis just don't need to carry extra weight, either - those long backs and funny front ends certainly don't need any additional (and avoidable) stress!
                        Oh, also because everybody gets a slightly different mix - the big dog gets a little more fat than the air fern corgi because he's a bit older, and the little girl gets more protein and fat than everybody because she burns more energy (she's not quite 3 and way more active) than the other two, and the bigdog gets his joint supps in pill form, and the air fern gets hers as powder ... and so on, and so forth.

                        Can you tell I'm a little obsessive about my dogs?


                        • #32
                          This is my first dog that free feeding worked on. All my priors were ones that would sit there until it was gone and all the enamel was successfully removed from the bowl. They were all on the twice a day plan and strictly outdoor guard dogs (don't worry I live in CA, and the coldest it ever got in the winter was high 30's and I am talking big hairy poochies). Then we got Syd, he's your delicate flower type of guy. He is a constant grazer, and when we tried to feed him in meals would go days without eating because he wasn't hungery when we wanted to feed him. He used to be chronically underweight (nothing healthwise but very high energy) and nothing put the weight on, he doesn't like table scraps or wet food. We finally switched to free feed and he maintained himself in the 34-38# range (he is a australian shepherd/kelpie), he was hit by a car and lost a leg when he was 5 so then still free feeding stayed right around 40# (finally didn't look emaciated), and now that he is 15 is the heaviest ever weighing in at a whopping 43#. Unfortunately now he has put on the weight because he has a harder time walking around and we believe has cushings but he is still very thin and trim. I would say a dog his size should really weigh in the upper 40#-50# range.


                          • #33
                            I have always free fed and never had a problem with a dog overeating. OK, the Pug is a little chubby. But that's not from free feeding. That's because his mommy shares too much people food with him. Shame on me, I know.

                            My vet is a big advocate of free feeding, as well.

                            Originally Posted by JSwan
                            I love feral children. They taste like chicken.


                            • #34
                              I free feed everything: dogs, cats and children


                              • #35
                                I free feed my dogs inside they are indoor dogs. I give them one large bowl in the morning and one at night about 3-4 pounds a day. If they eat it all fine if not fine too. Most of the time it will sit for an hour or so without anything in it. Then I refill.
                                My chihuahua likes to eat only when she is ready so it is the only way. Of course our doberman likes to lay down and eat so having food out when he is ready suits him fine. Now we have a newbie that just showed up at our house a jrt mix and he is still nervous so having food out all the time makes it easy for him to get some when he gets up the nerves to go.

                                Not all dogs can be free fed as some will practically inhale the food until they pass out. Most will not over eat if free fed and usually will not get fat because they only eat when they are hungry and not while fighting over it all at once.

                                Plus leaving food outside all the time causes bugs and other pesky critters to hang out like raccoons.
                                Ms Robin
                                Farm Websites & SEO, Low Prices, Barter available!
                                ~No Horses to Slaughter clique~


                                • #36
                                  My Corgis could never be fed free choice. The two little food addicts would have to join Weight Watchers.

                                  If you work full-time and are away from the house for extended periods during the day, feeding twice a day allows you to control the dog's elimination times. Something to think about...


                                  • #37
                                    Yup. Have done that for the 3 dogs I have had over the past 13 years or so. I leave out a bowl of dry kibble and they nibble here and there. We have never had overweight dogs. Now I know there are some dogs that are total pigs or get overweight on minimal food and that would not work.......but has never been a problem here. FWIW we do not feed wet food....only free choice dry kibble and the occasional after dinner table scraps for a treat. (The cats...both house and barn........are also free choice fed with the bowl up somewhere high/the cats have to jump to get it.....otherwise the dogs would prefer the cat food!) . The Golden we just put down was 16 years old......
                                    Last edited by camohn; Jan. 14, 2009, 08:38 AM.
                                    Providence Farm


                                    • #38
                                      I have to free feed, as it is the only way Stella will eat. You set a bowl of food down in front of her and she looks at it, then looks at you as if to say "Yeah. OK. What am I supposed to do with THIS?" She is a horrible eater, very finnicky (only dog I have EVER met that has to sniff a piece of steak before gingerly taking it then chewing it thoroughly before swallowing), and really is very uninterested in food. So, she has a big bowl at the barn that she picks at, and big bowl at home that she may or may not pick at. I know how much I put in each time, so I know that most days she will eventually consume 3 to 4 cups of food. Occasionally, she'll get some bug up her butt and polish off a bowl in no time flat (and because she's skinny, I usually fill it back up). She'll also eat a bit more consistently if she has "competition" (she used to eat almost all her dinner when I would feed her at night with my old roommate's dog). But most of the time it is pick, pick, pick.

                                      I really prefer that they have set meal times, as this is the way I've always done it, but if I did that, Stella would never eat (trust me. I tried the whole leave it down for 15 minutes then take it back up until the next meal time thing...she'd rather starve then conform to my timetable ).


                                      • Original Poster

                                        I never used to free feed until I was exposed to hunting dog packs. A young man came to live in my back yard guest house and had a small beagle pack, and he had a dry feeder in their pen for them. Then I volunteered occasionally at a foxhunt who also fed their dogs (multiples in different pens as well) from feeders. There were very few food fights, and the dogs stayed svelte. So I decided that kibble feeders, a dog door, and occasional days of fasting were an okay way to go. I've been very happy with the results with my dogs. Right now I have four spayed bitches, who, one would think, would tend to obesity. But they haven't. None of them pig out; they all seem to eat a little often. There are no feeder fights, but there is some growling/dominance behavior at the feeder at night just when I go to bed. They ARE farm dogs and get lots of exercise, and one is almost hyperactive. I've been very happy with free feeding, but I think it might work even better if a puppy was raised on it.
                                        "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
                                        Thread killer Extraordinaire


                                        • #40
                                          Originally posted by lcw579 View Post
                                          I free feed everything: dogs, cats and children

                                          Me too! Even the horses are on self service all you can eat round bales Now I need to back away from the trough
                                          "If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there"