Feeding Your Dog ‘The Right Way’
Surprisingly, there are a lot of things involved in feeding your dog or puppy. Some are common sense and self evident, and others lie beneath the surface. The less evident ones aren’t readily seen or considered by most people. Before you start to have problems with your dog you may want to delve into the why’s and how’s of the simple act of feeding him.
What food you feed tops the list of things having to do with feeding your dog. There are many choices out there when it comes to food for your dog. There’s dry kibble, moist food, canned food, natural and raw foods, just to name a few. Each type of food has its pro’s and con’s and each type also has people who believe that it’s the best way or only way to feed. I believe that there are basic nutritional needs that must be met for all dogs, but also that every dog has its own individual needs and requirements. You can choose what type of food you prefer to feed to your dog and then go on an individual basis as to what your dog or puppy needs as his or her requirements for optimum health.
Then there is the bowls you use. The type of bowl can be as important a choice as what you feed, if your dog or puppy happens to have an allergy to plastic. It’s surprising how many dogs are allergic to some of the plastics used for pet bowls. Even though more and more people are being educated as to the dangers of plastic bowls, they are still being sold as pet food bowls out there. Some of the signs of allergies are itching, irritation and erratic behaviors, frustration and agitation. Even a general ‘failure to thrive’ can be caused by an allergic reaction to a plastic bowl. Sometimes switching to a metal bowl brings on an almost immediate change that is quite noticeable. The very best bowl to use for your dog or puppy is some type of stainless steel bowl…and I like the non-tipping kind. Stainless steel is easy to keep clean, does not splinter or flake particles that promote allergies and it lasts a long time.
After food and bowls, comes time…when to feed and how often. A rule of thumb is to feed young puppies three meals a day, adolescence pups twice a day and adults either one or two times per day. When you feed your dogs can be when ever it fits into your schedule…as long as you have some semblance of a schedule. Dogs do best when they have a set schedule for eating, eliminating and walking. The very best times to feed are after you’ve eaten your breakfast, lunch and supper for a young puppy, and possibly after you’ve eaten your breakfast and supper for an older dog. Part of the reason to feed after you’ve eaten is because of the instinctive pack hierarchy that says: Pack leaders eat first and the followers eat second. Work with the natural instincts of your dog or puppy and you will have an easier time relaying the message that you are the pack leader.
Last, but not least, is how you feed your dog. I know quite a few people who ‘free feed’ their dogs. (Put food out and leave it out all day so the dog can nibble whenever she wants or gets hungry.) Some dogs tend to be picky eaters and owners will leave food out available for the dog ‘just in case she gets hungry’. I’m not a fan of free feeding for a couple of reasons. Generally dogs tend to overeat when they free feed and I don’t care to leave food sitting out for lengths of time so bugs and rodents are drawn to it. My preferred method for feeding is for me to feed each meal in a bowl at each feeding and pick the bowl up later on, after the dog has finished. I fill the bowl with 1/3 to 1/2 of the dog’s daily food requirement and I make the dog sit before I set the bowl down. That way, I am the one in charge, and I am providing the food like a good pack leader should. Feeding in this manner gives you an extra boost in the ‘pack leader’ department every time you feed your dog…which is twice a day, every day, for my dogs.
So, if you want to get that extra boost in your ‘pack leader status’ with your dog, feed your dog wisely. Feed a good quality food, out of a good quality bowl, at an appropriate time after you’ve already eaten and feed him only after he sits quietly and politely.
Sue Lee Ringwelski