I thought you may be interested in my favourite feeding regime for my dogs, I will be interested to hear your comments :)?
In a perfect world I prefer my dogs to have full-time access to their food, this is called ad lib feeding. Sometimes it is not possible to feed like this if you have multiple dogs, it may be that Pie and Betty will be too competitive over food and will not settle to my regime, I will let you know!I haven’t been able to try until now, but now that Betty is over 12 months and on the same food as Pie, I can start working toward leaving food out all the time, this is how I have started!
I had Betty on adult food for about a month, to allow time for her to get over the novelty of a new food, once that was achieved I started to increase their meals a little more each day, until both dogs were walking away and leaving some food. For Pie that took about 2 days, he has been fed ad lib before! For Betty, who is very greedy and competitive it took nearly a week! I thought she would pop :)! I would add here that the food I use is very low in salt, colours, sugar and additives, this is an essential part of the process, otherwise these ingredients increase appetite.
Yes, Betty has put on a little weight but I know she will soon lose this again once she settles into the new regime! That is what I love about feeding dogs in this manner, they do not stay fat! If fed on the correct diet and given full access, they soon become confidant that food is always available with no need to eat a store for later and keep a perfect figure, making life easy for me!
Betty is now leaving food at every mealtime, so far she finishes the food either before the next mealtime or around that time, 2 weeks on and this morning Betty finished last nights dinner at breakfast time this morning, not as soon as she got up, but at the very time I would have fed her, this tells me she is still programmed to eat at those times and it may take a week or 2 for her to find “her” best eating time. I have refilled the bowls and Betty has eaten a very small amount, overall eating a much smaller breakfast than before we started this process, therefore already her body weight is beginning to return to normal!
Regarding the best eating time, with any animal it is not good for them to eat a large amount just before exercising, it can cause health problems if they do, those of you with deep-chested dogs will be particularly aware of the problems. In the past I have found that my dogs naturally establish an eating routine around consuming the largest amount late in the day, when they are sure all activities have ceased. Strangely not a time of day I would advocate feeding a pet! Yet when allowed to choose it has been all of my dogs favourite time!
Another plus is the dog will be hungry for titbits when training! The regular food is obviously pretty useless for training, but a treat really is a treat!