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We currently hand feed most meals for our 16 week old pup. On a typical day, for 2 or even all 3 meals we would use the meal for training (but often we give her the last little bit in her bowl). Sometimes for 1 of her meals she gets it in a Snuffle Mat or in a puzzle of some kind -- maybe once every other day.
We are hand feeding so that we can do lots of training without giving too many treats (trying to follow the Slow Growth plan), and also of course anything that's in her bowl gets inhaled in under a second 馃槀
I am starting to wonder if there might be future problems I've not anticipated ... are there any downsides to all this hand feeding?
Thanks!!
 

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I鈥檝e been hand feeding dogs for years. Usually only one of two meals, and depending on the dog, the other meal is often fed in a slow feeder/puzzle toy of some kind. I鈥檝e yet to come across any cons.

My German shepherds have always been such fast eaters that they throw up their food, twice a day, everyday. It鈥檚 a pain to have to clean the floors constantly, but also throwing up stomach acid multiple times a day can鈥檛 be good for their esophagus. Hand feeding slows them down so they don鈥檛 vomit. I鈥檝e also found my dogs to need a lot of mental stimulation, so why not use meal times for that? Even better that I can use their kibble and don鈥檛 need to buy a bunch of treats. I like that it鈥檚 dedicated time I spend with my dog at the same time every day while we work on commands. It helps build engagement. It helps teach dogs to not snatch things out of hands and be gentle.

My newest dog came home three weeks ago yesterday. He spent the first 18 months of his life alone in a backyard everyday. Nobody ever asked anything of him, and he learned that all he had was himself. As a result, if there is absolutely anything else going on (including a light breeze), I don鈥檛 exist and there isn鈥檛 anything I can do to get his attention. I鈥檝e been using his meals to build engagement and reward history. It鈥檚 going great.

Some people don鈥檛 believe in using food for training, and those people disagree with hand feeding, I鈥檓 sure. Some people don鈥檛 believe in making dogs work for their meals, but I鈥檝e found that my dogs absolutely love working with me and get super excited when it鈥檚 time for a training session. To be fair, I also use toys and praise as rewards, but certain behaviors are much easier to teach and reward with food. I usually stop hand feeding meals when the dog is 1.5-2 years old and all the main training foundations are solidly laid.
 

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Nothing wrong with it, I guess, just inconvenient. I'd be late for work every morning if I had to hand feed both my dogs. Also, they always get some canned food with their kibble and it would be a mess. Besides, only the most basic of initial training can be done in a kitchen. I'd rather feed meals at mealtime by plopping the dishes on the floor and take my training treats to the training area when I'm ready to train. If you're worried about overfeeding, cut back a little on the meals to compensate for the training treats.

I don't use kibble for training treats unless I'm using differential rewards (different quality treats) methodology, something new I've been playing around with lately.
 

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When I was younger, before kids, I had a golden I loved. I had nothing but time. I hand fed him. He got sick and ended up having to stay at the vets office for several days. He wouldn't eat and when they put the bowl in his kennel he barked at it like a crazy dog. They called me because they thought something was really wrong with him. I went down, picked up the bowl, hand fed him. My vet, who has turned into a lifelong friend and field training partner, told my 17 year old self to never do it again. When I brought him home I slowly started getting him to eat out of a bowl, but I always had to sit with him for him to eat. I haven't ever done it again.

I do save some of the feedings for training rewards when I have puppies. I do exactly what @PalouseDogs dog mentions above these days. (different quality treats)
 

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We currently hand feed most meals for our 16 week old pup. On a typical day, for 2 or even all 3 meals we would use the meal for training (but often we give her the last little bit in her bowl). Sometimes for 1 of her meals she gets it in a Snuffle Mat or in a puzzle of some kind -- maybe once every other day.
We are hand feeding so that we can do lots of training without giving too many treats (trying to follow the Slow Growth plan), and also of course anything that's in her bowl gets inhaled in under a second 馃槀
I am starting to wonder if there might be future problems I've not anticipated ... are there any downsides to all this hand feeding?
Thanks!!
Your hand will get all gross and slobbery. ;) For real though, no future problems should come from it. If she is inhaling her food, a slow feeder bowl will help. I float food for my dogs to slow them down. (Think cereal)
 

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Only dog we had to hand feed was our first dog who likely had kidney failure his whole life. He would refuse to eat his food if we didn't hand mix it with pieces of meat. Which became he would refuse to eat if we didn't sit on the flood for 1-2 hours hand feeding him.

I was a preteen at the time and being at the bottom of the totem pole with all my siblings, I was one of the ones who had to sit on the floor and hand feed the dog. Me and my next oldest sister took turns "feeding the dog".

Later on when he was on a prescription diet for 6 months - we had to hand mix and hand feed soft food with a little bland kibble. The soft food was similar in consistency to a loaf of baloney or spam + a metallic smell which stuck to your hands.
If we mixed with a spoon instead of our hands, he wouldn't eat it.

So..... yeah, I land on the side of never start habits you don't want to always do.

Fast forward to today, my sister Amy and I are weird about getting our hands dirty with greasy smelly food. #scarred for life

Other thing worth throwing out there - if you never feed your dog normal meals, it will be a little trickier controlling your dog's diet + seeing if he's ever off his food.

Also - my guys get their meals when we eat. So if we are eating breakfast or supper, the dogs know their dishes are coming too.
 

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I guess I hand feed. The puppy is working for 1/2 to 3/4s of its food and I鈥檓 doling it out if that鈥檚 what you mean.
 

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The only downside is the time. We want to travel and camp with our pup so spending an hour hand feeding us not realistic. In fact we have her first camping trip coming up in 3 weeks! With all the other camp stuff we'll just put her food in a bowl. She usually comes up for air a couple of times so we don't have any issues with her eating too fast :)
 
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