Establishing Dog’s Mealtime Routine
Food and mealtimes are a very important part of life for your dog. Your dog’s meals are one of the high points of his day. If you feed your dog at a certain time each day, your dog probably knows to the exact minute when he is supposed to get his food, and if you are late, he can become anxious and upset.
In fact, dogs like routine in their lives. It gives them a sense of order and security and they generally thrive on a regular routine. If possible, you should try to establish a good mealtime routine for your dog.
Most dogs do well on two meals per day. Feeding at least two meals a day keeps blood sugar level and keeps your dog from becoming extremely hungry. If you have a Toy breed, it is usually best to feed 2-3 small meals per day. If you have a large or giant breed, or one that is prone to bloat such as a German Shepherd, Great Dane, or Irish Setter, then two meals are usually recommended as this is thought to help discourage bloating.
Choose a time for feeding that you can feed each day. This is usually once in the early morning and once in the late afternoon. If you feed too late in the evening then your dog may need to go outside to potty during the night. Try to feed at the same time each day. Dogs DO have a very precise sense of time and your dog will expect to be fed at the same time each day.
Do NOT free feed your dog. Free feeding is putting down an unlimited supply of food so your dog can eat all he wants, whenever he wants. There are many disadvantages to free feeding, though it is easier for humans. Dogs often become fat when they are free fed. You have no control over how much your dog eats. If you have multiple dogs, you don’t know which dogs are eating most of the food and which dogs are eating less. And, your dogs do not respect you when you free feed. They do not associate getting the food with you giving it to them.
Use mealtime as a way to reinforce your position as your dog’s leader and to establish some good manners in your dog. Many dogs have terrible manners when they are fed. They jump on their owner, demand food, bark, and knock the food out of their owner’s hands. Instead of this behavior, you can train your dog to have good manners at mealtime.
When you have your dog’s food bowl with food, tell your dog to sit. Hold the bowl until your dog sits and you release him. Be sure to praise your dog when you give him the food, too. Your dog learns to respect you and he knows that the food comes from you. There’s no dangerous jumping around or bad behavior either. You are also monitoring how much your dog eats and controlling his portions.
Dogs are much happier when you establish this kind of good mealtime routine. Try it with your dog and you’ll see how much better meals are for him.