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Kidogo is almost 5 months old, and we feed him Diamond Naturals puppy. We've been trying to feed him 2 cups a day but most days he eats a little bit less than that, as little as 1.3 cups a day. He is fed twice a day, anytime between 6:30-8:30, and another time between 4-7. When he eats less in the morning, I expect him to eat more in the evenings but that is not always the case.

We also have trouble keeping him interested in his food. After eating for a couple of minutes, he walks away from it and gets distracted by something else. Sometimes he even goes and lays down like he is all done eating after just a few bites. We often have to call him and tap on his food bowl to get his attention again. We've even tried sitting at the dining table next to his food bowl and having our meal/doing our own thing while he eats but he still walks away into the living room. When it is time to eat he always jumps up trying to reach the food like any eager puppy does, so we tell him to sit and wait and he does. Once the food is down he chomps down the first couple bites eagerly, then wanders away.

I have changed his food twice thinking that he didn't like it, but his pattern seems to be that he starts out really liking and enjoying the food to losing interest in it in a matter of 2 weeks! I'm thinking of possibly leaving his food down once in the morning and again in the evening but I know free feeding is not good. Should I stop cajoling him to eat and just pick it up in 20 mins no matter how much he's had? He's a whippet so he's already skinny and I'm not sure I want him to lose weight.
 

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I don't think free feeding is bad as long as you measure the amounts. As in, don't just refill his bowl whenever it's empty, but put in a set amount in the morning and a set amount in the evening. That's what I do with my cats, as they also are disinterested in their food after a few bites, but they always eventually finish it within an hour or so.
 

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Free feeding is fine if your dog can self regulate. Keep an eye on body weight and if he looks good then he is getting enough to eat.

I had two Dobes that were free fed. I bought a 40lb bag of food separated it into two food storage containers and they could feed whenever they were hungry. It worked for us, the dogs were not overweight and were happy. The dog I have now, free feeding would never work. She doesn't have a good off switch. :)
 

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My puppy has eaten basically the same amount of food for the entire time I've had him (he's 9 months now) so there's nothing to say that they should eat less. Many dogs who really love food will eat pretty much anything you put in front of them, no matter how much it is.

For your situation, I would put the food down for 15min, ignore him while it's down, and then pick it up. I think most dogs can generally be taught that when it's time to eat, it's time to eat. Some dogs are always going to be picky, so I'll leave that to others. But the fact that he is interested in it at first and excited to get it makes me think that he just needs to learn the rules around feeding time. Sometimes the more you encourage them and cater to them (by sitting in the same room, hand feeding, etc) the worse they get.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The problem with free feeding, for me, is that we have a schedule. I know exactly how long after eating that he's going to need to go #2 and am prepared to take him out then. If he's not eating enough to go potty when he's supposed to, and I can't be home when he does have to go, that could be a disaster.

Tonight we were celebrating Mother's Day and took him with us, but didn't bring food for him, so he didn't get to eat until super late. He ate the full portion without hesitating, so the problem might be that he's just not super hungry/is getting more than he needs? I think I'll go with elrowhen's suggestion and take his food up after 20 mins. I'm thinking from tonight's experience that he definitely knows to eat when he's hungry. If so, should I feed him as much as he wants up to the full 2 cups for the day in the evening if he doesn't eat in the morning? Or just the one cup even if he's looking for more?

As for the eating less, I had read that they will eat increasing amounts of food until they peak out at however much (could be more than recommended amount), then as adults eat less than what they are used to eating to follow more closely to the recommended amount? I have no idea. Has anyone else ever heard of this?
 

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The problem with free-feeding is that it is almost impossible to housetrain while doing it. So during housetraining, you'll have to stick to a strict mealtime schedule .

After housetraining is completed, it becomes a matter of discipline, i.e., following the house rules. You've not been doing it up to now, so what's the motivation for changing? I think it is better to always feed at set times and allow about 10-15 minutes for the dog(s) to complete the meal. If one is still at their dish and chomping away at a deliberate pace after 15 minutes, I might let that time slide a little bit. But if the dish has been left with food in it, I will pick up the food and that's it for that meal. But those are OUR house rules. YMMV.
 

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Ada became disinterested in her food after a while and started getting too skinny. Now we mix a spoon full of plain yogurt on her food in the morning and a bit of olive oil in the evening and she always finishes her meals. My husband also likes to add the "meat juice" that is left behind on the plate after grilling chicken or steak. :p Needless to say, she cleans up her dinner pretty fast on those days.
 

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I have had this problem with Ammy too, we started on blue buffalo puppy and it didn't agree with her. We switched to candidae all life stages and she hardly ate it. We were on blue wilderness which she liked the best, but she would also get disinterested after a few bites. I just switched to Stella and Chewy's raw, it basically looks like a big hamburger patty haha. She's eaten her breakfast and dinner two days in a row with no disinterest so far! I hate catering to her being picky but she's just so active I worry about her not eating :(.
 

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My pup was starting to lose interest in her puppy food. I switched her to Acana grain free all life stages (wild prairie and now pacifica) and she has been excited to eat ever since. I think its because its more real meat %, idk, but she loves it, and has good stool.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
The problem with free-feeding is that it is almost impossible to housetrain while doing it. So during housetraining, you'll have to stick to a strict mealtime schedule .

After housetraining is completed, it becomes a matter of discipline, i.e., following the house rules. You've not been doing it up to now, so what's the motivation for changing? I think it is better to always feed at set times and allow about 10-15 minutes for the dog(s) to complete the meal. If one is still at their dish and chomping away at a deliberate pace after 15 minutes, I might let that time slide a little bit. But if the dish has been left with food in it, I will pick up the food and that's it for that meal. But those are OUR house rules. YMMV.
He is housetrained and crate trained. What I meant by the schedule is that I can't have him eat right before I leave for the day because he's going to be alone for 4 hours and I don't feel like I can expect him to hold it that long after eating. But you're definitely right, I will not be opting for free feeding. My motivation for changing the way we feed is because it's annoying having to sit there with him while he eats and having to call him back to his bowl after two bites.

@ada, I sometimes, in desperation add canned pumpkin in his food to keep him interested. It is his favourite treat for whatever reason, even over hot dogs and meat on my plate. I would like to keep it as a very special treat to motivate him in other areas, so maybe I can find other things to add into his food.

@Kyndall and Blue, I am hoping to not change his food AGAIN, because the pattern has just repeated itself with the last two changes so I am not convinced he won't do the same with a new food. That will be my last resort if consistently picking the food up after 20 mins whether he eats or not doesn't work.
 
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