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I've been reading some other threads, and read that poodles have a good sense of their needs ( if they are full they will stop). Does that mean I could leave the food bowl out all day, or should I put it out at a designated mealtime?


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Schedule a feeding, free feeding in my experience encourages picky eating. I'm trying to get Vegas back to a scheduled feeding, he was eating half of what he should be eating and is skin and bones. Getting back to one may be hard, there were times he wouldn't touch his food for 36 hours! He has 15-20 minutes to eat it now, then it gets lifted.
 

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I think either method works. My dogs have free access to kibble all day. They eat whenever they want. I give them some additional meat for supper, and they always gobble that up immediately.

The only problems that I have had with leaving the dish down all the time are: (1) it doesn't work if you have a lab or a golden retriever visiting, and (2) it doesn't work if you have a mouse problem. Mice really like kibble. In fact I once discovered that I had a mouse (or mice) in the house by finding a stash of kibble in the far corner of a closet. The little rodents had moved about 2-3 cups of kibble from my dogs' bowls to their private kibble hiding place!

If you don't have visiting mice or visiting dogs, my vote is for making kibble always available.
 

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Free feeding doesn't help with keeping your dogs bowls on a schedule either. If its a puppy you don't want to do this as they will eat and potty whenever they feel like it. I am against free feeding for the fact I see way too many overweight dogs. Like us, dogs should only have a certain caloric intake


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We have a Lab in residence, and Peppersb is right, free feeding doesn't work with a Lab around. Fortunately, Jazz is an eager eater, has been from the beginning, so we feed twice a day, Luke first, then Jazz. Both of them scarf up every morsel, practically inhale it. Maybe it has something to do with competition--each is afraid the other will get an extra bit of kibble.
 

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I personally like free feeding, they have the opportunity to eat when they are hungry, not gobble down food, just because it is there. They also do not gobble down extra air as they rush to eat. I find I have less "gas problems" Many people feel that free feeding helps with (not solves) bloat problems.

Terry
Farleys D Standard
"One must first "BUILD" a house before painting it!"
 

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I guess free feeding might work if there was only one dog and he/she were good at self regulating. In general though I don't recommend it, I think scheduled feeding is better. That way you have a general idea of when they will need to potty AND you will know immediately if there are any changes in feeding habits such as not eating as much.

I can't imagine what would happen if I tried to free feed...some of my dogs would never get any food while others would be little sausages on toothpicks for legs. Lol!
 

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Free feeding just isn't feasible with our situation, but I wouldn't do it in any event. For one thing, we live in the country, and attracting vermin is a concern. We had that happen once years ago--it was rats rather than mice and was a quick cure for leaving food out. For another, I agree with the poster who said it can encourage picky eating. (I raised three kids and never had any desire to run a cafeteria.) And finally, our dogs don't have a problem with gas. We do feed twice a day, moisten the kibble, and feed on a raised table, all of which are suppposed to help prevent bloat. Recently I read a table actually can encourage bloat, but Luke has used it for years without a problem, and it's certainly kinder to his stiff old back.
 

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I'm not sure if it's physically possible for a 22 lb. mini to eat an entire 15 lb. bag of kibble in one go, but if I let Beau free-feed, I bet we would find out!
 

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Is it okay to leave the bowl out? It is yes and no. It depends on your situation as other's have pointed out.

For me, I'm big on planning so Charlie has a scheduled feeding time, in the am and pm. If I leave him more than 4 hrs alone, I'll leave some dry kibble out. I prefer this way so I know when he is going to relive himself. So far it works.

Please note that in Charlie's case, feeding time doesn't necessarily means eating time. :(
 

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I have been free feeding Enzo and it works well. He is not food obsessed and he eats when he is hungry. His weight is good and he shows no sign of being picky. Now when Fred was here that was not possible as he would eat whatever was in sight. So it works for us.
 

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Oh man both my two are very food-obsessed; they eat every single crumb of their food every time so we measure out their day's food rations in the mornings so they don't get overfed. Seems that for a while, several of us were feeding them and they still ate every bit of every extra meal!
 

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Oh man both my two are very food-obsessed; they eat every single crumb of their food every time so we measure out their day's food rations in the mornings so they don't get overfed. Seems that for a while, several of us were feeding them and they still ate every bit of every extra meal!
That has happened here more than once, occasionally with meals, but especially with treats. They get treats after walks and after being good dogs for grooming or medicating, and before bed, and just because--if they can work it so one of us treats them, followed shortly by the other one of us, so much the better.
 

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My parents have always free fed their dogs, typically Pedigree (ick!) and to be honest, it drives me crazy. All but one of their dogs are so grossly overweight, despite the fact that they run around their 1/2 acre yard like maniacs all day. Back when I had Misha, we spent two weeks there visiting and they forbid me from feeding her her own food. Thankfully, she has a cast iron stomach, but the sheer amounts of food she inhaled left her bloated with an upset stomach for weeks!
Ash was free fed before I got him, and we really had to work to get him on a regular schedule because we quickly noticed he wasn't eating if we did leave the food out all day. He was also an incredibly picky eater, which is something I've constantly run into with free fed dogs. My dogs are also not horribly gassy (though they were when they first switched to grain free for the first couple weeks).

This past week, Reiki was sort of free fed as he was too skinny when we got him home from the breeder.He packed on the weight quick, and now gets regularly scheduled meals and a filled Kong toy halfway through the day. He sort of self regulated, so I could see it working over time, maybe, but he filled out so fast I think I would have a walking sausage instead of a puppy! I'm always interested to hear about people free feeding dogs that are not overweight because it is something dogs in general just don't do naturally, but it does work for some dogs.
 

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I free fed my mini for 7 years (not as a puppy, though) and he was fine. That being said, I think it depends on the dog, so in general I don't recommend it. He has put on a little weight recently, because we changed his food...our fault, not his. As a result we have put him on a schedule, which was a pain, since he isn't used to it. I'd not leave the bowl out if it were me. If they don't eat, they aren't hungry, and will eat the next time you offer food.
 

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I free feed my lot and my dogs are all on the thin side, even though there is always good food in their bowl. I'm trying to fatten Misha up a bit so am feeding him wet food twice a day but unfortunately I can never remember to feed it to him at regular times. If I had a dog who ate when he was full I'd have to resort to measuring and scheduled feedings, but so far I've gotten lucky.

My dad has his senior pekingese on a strict scheduel because she does love to eat and eat and the extra weight would be bad for her back.

I don't think my dogs are picky at all and am confused as to why free feeding causes pickyness? I thought Vernon was a very finicky eater as he was very selective about what he would or wouldn't eat, but it just turned out that he was being really smart. He is very allergic to corn so would sniff things before eating them to make sure it was ok to eat. Smart guy.
 

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I feed Storm twice per day... I give him half in the mornings and half in the late afternoon... I leave the bowl down so he can eat at his leisure... Raw food he eats immediately...
 

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We free feed our four dogs here... Four bowls are put out in the morning (each dog has a designated area in the kitchen... lol) and they eat a few bites every time they walk by the bowl... by night time, all the bowls are empty. My three chinese cresteds are a healthy 12-ish pounds and that doesn't really fluctuate much. Portia is a growing dog but has steadily been putting on weight and is a healthy 28 lbs at six months old... No overweight/underweight dogs or picky eaters here!!! :)
 

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Really depends on what you're feeding. Obviously wet food should only be out for a limited time. But dry food? It depends on the dog.

If the dog and house hold can handle it, I prefer and do free feeding.

The kibble lose's it's novel appeal so the dog can learn to eat when hungry but not gorge on it, like with treats. So they can stop when satiated. If they keep a healthy weight, that means they can sufficiently self regulate.

Treats and human food still have their novel, precious appeal since they're not always available. Also, a study found that dogs train better when they're not hungry.

If your dog is more active one day, then they can eat more for the calorie adjustment. If they were less active that day, vise versa. Same if they ate a lot of food for training that day or a lot of snacks.

You can easily measure how much is being consumed by always using the same size container to fill up the bowl and/or filling up to the same height.

Prevent the food from going bad by letting them eat it down before refilling.

Keeping the area clean, slightly elevated, and letting them eat it down before refilling prevents most bug infestations.

Providing a meal and taking it away make encourage some dogs to gorge on it even if they're not hungry, because they've been taught to eat it while it's still there. But leaving a bowl out can prevent this as it lowers the value of the kibble. And if you notice that it's not being eaten, then it's easier to tell when your dog isn't well. Also if your dog is having random tummy trouble, you don't necessarily want them to eat just because the food is there.

Multi dog households can train each dog to each from their own bowl. Depends on the dogs and household, remember.

A bowl of food that's always available is low in value and not really worth guarding because it's not likely to be stolen (dog's perception here).
 
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