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Nancy
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While reading any post about feeding, everyone's advice includes 'only let the food down for 15 min. then remove until the next meal'. WHY???

I'm not trying to start a war here but I've never done this with any of my dogs, never had overweight or picky eaters. With my non-goldens years ago they self-fed, I kept the bowl filled with dry food. When I got Maggie, my first golden, everyone told me that she would keep eating until it was gone so I put her 2 cups of food in her bowl in the AM, she ate throughout the day. As a pup she I did the same as I do with Hank. Since he's still on 3 meals/day, I put food in his bowl 3 times/day. Usually he eats it right up but if not I don't take it away. As I type he's finishing up his breakfast. He ate part earlier then went outside to play/pottie awhile.

So many owner are concerned because their dog "inhales" their food. Or worried about food aggression. I know if my plate was only allowed in front of me for 15 min. I'd gulp my food and be pretty upset if someone came near it during my time window.

I realize there are different scenarios so this may not work in every households but for me, one dog, dry kibble...why not let him eat at his own pace?
 

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I have free fed the terriers in my past without issue and actually thought I'd do the same thing when Sadie came home. My vet just chuckled and said to plan for a long housebreaking training period. :uhoh:

My girls get 3 feeds a day and eat their bowls as soon as they are put down.

I figure if they dallied over their meals, and I didn't want to free-feed, the plan to pick it up after 15 minutes would reinforce that they need to finish now.
It's really all personal choice. I prefer being able to see that each dog has gotten it's meal with no question of who ate what and how much.
 

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When I was growing up my mother always let the dogs free feed. When I got Hershey, as a pup, she would only eat if I was standing right there so it didn't matter if the food was there or not-she still wouldn't eat it unless I was standing with her. Once I got Sasha #1 (also a pup) I found that she would eat her food and Hershey's food also so I would have to stand and watch them both while they ate and if Hershey walked away from her bowl I would pick it up.

With the dogs that I have now I have 3 slow eaters and 2 that inhale their food so I am still standing and watching while they eat so that the bolder dogs don't move in on the slower dogs.
 

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I realize there are different scenarios so this may not work in every households but for me, one dog, dry kibble...why not let him eat at his own pace?
So long as it's a single, paced, non-picky, non-food aggressive dog and a measured daily amount (none of the never ending feeding dispensers), honestly don't see the harm. But as you said, it's not for every dog or multiple dog households.
 

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There are exceptions to every rule, and for some people leaving the food down works just fine. But not for most, especially ones with multiple dogs.
In 10 years of running a pet hotel, I can *almost* always tell you which dogs are free fed by their behavior. They don't tend to listen very well, they don't seem to come when called, etc. As I said, before I get jumped on, there are exceptions of course.
I've also found that dogs who are fed on a schedule *tend* to be easier to housetrain, mine normally being trained within a week of coming home. Again, there are always exceptions.
Also found that puppies who are allowed to free feed *tend* to grow up to be pickier eaters.
But if it's working for you, then do it. You know your own dog, and you know what works for him. Just because it doesn't work for me, or for a lot of us, doesn't mean you should change what works for you!
 

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I can *almost* always tell you which dogs are free fed by their behavior. They don't tend to listen very well, they don't seem to come when called, etc...Also found that puppies who are allowed to free feed *tend* to grow up to be pickier eaters.
In my experience, that is more a result of owners' over-indulgent behavior that carries over into elements of feeding.

You also raise the important point of bathrooming. For folks whose dogs stay home alone (indoors), many like to let their dog(s) out a certain amount of time after the dog(s) eat so that all can be comfortable while their people are at work/away for extended periods of the day (they don't want to risk the dog eating a large portion just after they leave, increasing chance of discomfort/accidents).
 

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My Mitchell free fed and was one of those Goldens that would only eat when you were standing there. We would feed him in the morning and if you left for work before he was finished the food would be in the bowl when you returned. He was a very good listener with excellent recall. He just wanted to be with us. We never worried that he would wander off. I can see where more than one dog causes a problem. My sister in law has 3 dogs and they are fed on a schedule and it's nessessary.
 

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He is an example of why I say there are exceptions to every rule. He clearly was one of the exceptions!

And Garfield, that's a very interesting thought about it being over-indulgent behavior that carries over into feeding practices that causes the *bad* behavior, not the free feeding in and of itself. I like it.



My Mitchell free fed and was one of those Goldens that would only eat when you were standing there. We would feed him in the morning and if you left for work before he was finished the food would be in the bowl when you returned. He was a very good listener with excellent recall. He just wanted to be with us. We never worried that he would wander off. I can see where more than one dog causes a problem. My sister in law has 3 dogs and they are fed on a schedule and it's nessessary.
 

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I don't see how free-feeding would work in a house with multiple dogs. We did free-feed my dog growing up (only dog) and it worked fine for him.
 

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With 3 dogs in the house, free feeding is impossible. But mine eat immediately when I put their food down, so it's not an issue. They eat in the morning before work and at night. If I free fed my beagle would be 872 lbs.
 

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And Garfield, that's a very interesting thought about it being over-indulgent behavior that carries over into feeding practices that causes the *bad* behavior, not the free feeding in and of itself. I like it.
Everyone once in a while, I do come up with some worthwhile comment. lol Free feeding in itself is generally not the issue, it's when there are no boundaries/structure/training/follow-through in ANY areas of a pooch's life.
 

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I know for a fact that Sophie would do much better on a free feeding schedule. She eats slowly and deliberately. It's too bad Duke has to mess the schedule up, he's finished 3 of Sophie's meals when she walked away from her bowl. Free feeding definitely doesn't work in our multi dog family.
 

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I don't have to worry about bringing Timber's food up in 15 minutes.
It never lasts longer than 2 minutes tops :uhoh:

I finally bought him a slow feeder bowl just to slow the guy down!!!
You'd think nobody fed the poor guy :no:
 

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When it was just Gus in our house, he was totally free fed. He was always a super-lean dog, to the point that I dressed up his meals sometimes to get more into him. Still, he thrived on that and was a pretty incredible dog when it came to basic obedience and manners.

Comet is currently free fed and is pretty much ideal for weight. As a pup in his crate, he used to inhale food, but since he's graduated from crating while we're gone, he's had pretty much full access to his food when nobody's around. He self-limits to about 2 1/2 cups of high calorie food (Eukanuba Premium Performance) a day, though I'll happily put more in on days when he finishes what he has. We pick up his food when Ajax isn't crated.

Ajax still eats in his crate, and he finishes whatever you put in front of him. He eats about 4 cups of Euk LBP a day and is very trim. I've never had to pick up a bowl with unfinished food.

So currently, in our multiple-dog house, we have a very well behaved 22-month-old who's free fed and self-regulating perfectly, and a spastic pup who's a chowhound and has mealtimes.

15 minute feedings are convenient, and they help a dog know to eat when you're on the road or in other situations where free feeding is temporarily impossible. They also have the benefit of showing the dog that you're the source of good things. It is, however, totally possible to raise a lean, obedient dog and free feed him.
 
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