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I been recently researching and recently continue to read that you shouldn’t leave dog food out for the dogs to consume all day. That people tend to leave the dog food out for about 10 minutes and then they take it away. I had never done that because I felt I’d be abusing the dog if they don’t eat in those ten minutes, but it seems many people feel that way. So my question is do you do that with your dogs if not what routine do you do? Also my dogs are 12 and 8 they been doing this their entire lives, do you think it’s too late for me to start this routine with them?
 

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I think it's more about making sure the dogs aren't over eating. Some people will just make sure the dog's dish always has food in it, which means the dog could be eating way more than is necessary, causing them to be obese.

My dogs both eat their entire meal is about 60 seconds so it's never been an issue for me.
 

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It's usually to prevent overeating and obesity, and some dogs in multi-dog households do not want to share their food bowl with another dog. Some dogs are fine being free-fed, others will eat until it's gone. We had dogs on the farm who were free-fed, mostly because routines weren't set and it was just easier to leave the bowl out and let them eat when they felt like it. They also were fine sharing a bowl of food with each other. My current dog is fed on a schedule because he would probably eat everything in the bowl in one sitting.

If your dogs maintain a healthy weight being free fed and don't have issues sharing food, then I don't see why you would need to change your routine.
 

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Most of my dogs are raised on free-feeding and have done well, never over-eating and getting too fat. I have had a few that I had to limit their food as they were getting a little chubby as you do have to keep track of their weight more.
 

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I agree, most people are against free feeding because it is a pathway to obesity for most dogs. That and some dogs have issues sharing food/may begin to guard the bowl. With older dogs, it's especially important, IMO, to keep them lean so as to keep pressure off of their joints and preserve quality of life.

My parents free-fed our family dogs Alpo for my entire childhood. When I got my first job as a teenager, I started buying the dogs a higher quality food - which was also more expensive and definitely needed to be rationed. That, and one of our dogs was 10-15 pounds overweight. Our dogs were ranging from 5-9 years old when I switched them from free fed to 2 meals a day and they did just fine with it. I was able to get our overweight dog's weight down and I think she has much benefited from it.

A lot of people thin their dogs do fine being free fed, but they just don't know that their dogs are fat. You should be able to easily feel your dogs ribs without pressing down, and if they have a single short coat you will probably be able to faintly see their last rib or two. They should have a "tuck" where their chest ends and becomes their stomach.

With all that said, if your dogs are at a good weight and share nicely, there's no reason to fix what isn't broken.
 

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It depends on the dog. Out of 4 dogs, I've only had one who didn't want to eat the entire dish at once, and was free fed, and he was actually too skinny, but I had to switch him to a schedule too after I adopted him because I have other dogs. It was extremely easy honestly... I just fed him the next morning and he was hungry!

If your dogs have a healthy weight, there's no reason to change anything.
 

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Another chiming in for "it depends on the dog."

My first GSD-mix was free fed. I didn't know any better so I just filled his food bowl and left it at that. It worked out perfectly. He was a grazer, eating a few bites of kibble here and there throughout the day.

Then came my next GSD-Shar Pei. Unlike my previous GSD, this one was built more like an overgrown Shar Pei, solid and thick. He did not have a belly, but his back grew flat and wide, kind of like a coffee table. That's about the time his vet told us to quit free feeding and suggested a specific amount of food to be fed once a day. It was hard at first. I felt like I was starving him, and I'm sure that my dog felt like he was being starved. But eventually, it became routine. He ate at 5 p.m. every night. If 5:15 rolled around and he hadn't been fed, he'd come over and poke leg with his nose to remind me that it was time to eat.

My current pup, who is 10 weeks old, eats four times a day between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. In a few weeks, I will cut back to three times a day, with her last meal around 7 p.m. When she's a year old, I'll consider feeding her twice a day, morning and evening.
 

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Well, first of all, I absolutely do not think it's "abusive" to feed meals, rather than free-feed, a dog (same goes for children - I'm not running a 24/7 all you can eat buffet in my house!)

That being said, I am very much a proponent of feeding scheduled meals to dogs for a variety of reasons:

#1 - If the human's version of 'free feeding' means "keep the dog's bowl full at all times", then obesity is a definite consideration. In a multi-dog household... how can you be *absolutely certain* who eats what & when? Going off their food is one of the earliest signs of general 'not feeling good'.
#2 - If the human's version means "measure out a daily portion of food & put that out every 24 hours" then, it depends... if there is only ONE dog in the home, this could be OK. More than one dog? No. Again, how do you know, for certain, who's eating what/how much & how often? Can't answer for sure? Not good.

So, what if you have multiple dogs, who don't guard or over indulge in the constantly full bowl? Is there a problem? Yeah, there just might be. In my household, not all dogs can be on the same diet - and this wasn't always the case. Dietary needs have changes as the resident dogs have aged. I have one in early stages of kidney disease, so she needs to eat a lower phosphate kibble than the other two. I have one that needs a daily probiotic added to her morning meal. All three dogs get fish oil/supplements/toppers on a daily basis. None of this can be done if I just put out a general bowl of kibble for everyone each day.

So, the long & short of it is - while piling a bowl full of generic food each day & letting the dogs decide when/if they're hungry might work *today*... having the dogs accustomed to eating set & scheduled meals is a much better (IMO) long term situation.
 
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