How to Create and Maintain a Feeding Schedule
Setting up a feeding schedule for your dog can seem daunting, especially when transitioning to a new diet. Here are our best tips to guide you through the process and answer some of your feeding schedule questions.
Why can’t I just free-feed?
Free-feeding has been linked to training issues in dogs. For instance, dogs are more likely to overeat or become picky eaters if they’re free-fed. They also tend to beg more often. Setting a consistent regimen can help prevent obesity and ease transition when switching to a new food.
A consistent feeding schedule has several other upsides. For one, it will increase your pup’s appetite at mealtime. This key benefit can help judge your dog’s overall health and prevent extra vet visits. When you free-feed, it’s difficult to gauge your dog’s hunger or how much he’s eating. However, on a measured schedule, you’ll be able to track his appetite and his diet, catching early warning signs of illness or change in tastes.
Additionally, consistent feeding means consistent pooping! When your dog eats at a specific time of day, he’ll poop at a consistent time of day, leading to fewer accidents around the house.
How do I create a feeding schedule?
Creating a schedule that works for everyone in your house, pups included, is actually the easy part. Set the times of day that are most convenient for you to feed your dogs. This time should not be mealtime for any other members of the family. This means, don’t feed your dog when you yourself are having dinner. This can create an obedience issue in which your dog views your food as theirs.
Assign the times of day. We recommend feeding twice a day, but more frequent meals are fine as long as you pay attention to serving sizes.
Then, choose the location. Where you feed your pets should be somewhere they feel safe, away from foot traffic and other food.
Now you can simply feed them and walk away! It’s important not to hover while your dog eats, as he may feel anxious. After 20-30 minutes, remove and clean your pet’s bowl.
What if my dog doesn’t finish his meal?
Take this as a training opportunity. The first few times you remove your dog’s dish after the allotted time, he may leave food. This is just because he isn’t used to only having half an hour to eat.
It’s okay if he chooses to skip a meal or leave scraps. Avoid feeding treats before the next mealtime to increase his appetite, and try again! Be sure not to hover or otherwise make mealtime tense. Any leftover Darwin’s can be stored for up to 48 hours in the fridge.
If your dog’s having a hard time sticking to the schedule, try hand-feeding, making sure to wash your hands afterwards. Your familiar scent will help him feel safe with this new change.
5 Simple Tips to Creating Your Dog’s Feeding Schedule
Additional Tips and Tricks
- When feeding fresh food, like Darwin’s Natural Selections™, it’s important to thoroughly clean your dishes after each mealtime, washing your hands when you do so.
- Always have clean water available for your dog.
- If your dog is having a tough time finishing his food, try a healthy bribe like bone broth.
- Watch his weight. Keep an eye out for any unhealthy weight loss or gain and reach out to your vet if his weight fluctuates.
- Ask for help! We’re always here to listen and answer your transition questions. Check out our transition center or call in to 877-738-6325.