Should My Dog Have An Eating Schedule?
Yes! There are some definite perks to putting your pup on a regular eating schedule, but it takes some work. Be consistent and it'll quickly become part of your everyday routine. Just remember these two cardinal rules: 1) make sure you're consistent with your feeding times, and 2) get everyone in your household on the same page (i.e. make sure no one's sneaking him food off schedule!).
Perks of Regulating Food
A regular feeding schedule help with potty training. Dogs that free-feed any time of day, or eat a quantified ration at times that vary from day to day, tend to go potty at sporadic times. You can't be sure when your dog has to go. A dog typically has to go to the bathroom about 20 to 30 minutes after feasting. With a regular feeding schedule you'll know right when to take him out. Also, a regular feeding schedule allows you to better monitor exactly how much Rascal consumes throughout the day. If you put out breakfast for him and your significant other fills his dish again an hour later, Rascal's overeating. Over time he'll become a pudgy and likely suffer from weight-related issues.
Family Eats Together
Odds are, your family probably gathers in the kitchen a couple times a day -- even if just to grab something and go. Get Rascal on the same feeding schedule you're on. When you pour yourself a bowl of cereal in the morning, pour your pooch some kibble as well. In the evening before you sit down to dinner, fill his dish one more time. Not only will you get him on your eating routine, you'll give him something to stay busy and leave you alone for a few minutes while you dine.
Set a Timer
Your days are hectic. Between getting the kids off to school in the morning, making it to work on time, driving everyone to practice after school and making dinner, among other things, it's no wonder you forget to feed Rascal at the same time every day. Set a couple permanent alarms on your phone – one in the morning and one at night. That way no matter how busy you are, you'll get a reminder to put some food out for your pup.
The 12-Hour Tip
Get yourself in the habit of feeding Rascal every 12 hours, for example, "on the sevens." When that clock strikes 7 a.m., it's time for his breakfast. When the clock strikes 7 p.m., it's time for Rascal's dinner. If 7 o'clock doesn't work for you and him, pick times that work well and stick to them.
Automatic Timed Feeder
If you're working an extra-long workweek at the office or simply struggle to remember to feed Rascal at a regular time, you may benefit from an automatic feeder. All you have to do is portion out his food in the feeder each night and set the timer. One side will open for him at breakfast, the other at night. That way his meals are all set, taking one more thing off your to-do list.
By Melodie Anne Coffman
About the Author
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.