Free Feeding Question

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Free Feeding Question

Postby JONOV » Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:37 am

If anyone has free fed before, I need some input. Here's the current situation. Because I have no backbone, I find myself in a situation where (for the next couple weeks anyway) I have two fosters (plus my dog.)

One is roughly 9 or 10 years old, an underweight, malnourished nearsighted GSP. The other is a puppy, 7 weeks old (GWP.) The puppy will be taken in by the National rescue, taken to a veterinary opthamologist, and the rescue will take over finding her a home (she has one bad eye that won't open, bad infection when she was a week or two old.) The old man will be with me til I can get a handle on his separation anxiety and find someone that will take him with his faults (never had a foster so old, so we'll see!)

I free feed. I've come to this as the best solution for us for a handful of reasons. All of my fosters (except the puppy) have come to me underweight, usually with at least one or two psychological hangups (food aggression/guarding, issues from eating way too fast and throwing up, anxiety, overly fearful...) The dogs are competitive and "jealous" of one another enough without worrying about who ate fastest and can the other one get pushed out of their bowl...

But, they've always been grown dogs. The puppy is being fed the same Purina 30/20 all life stages, and seems to eat at her leisure, eats/drinks/poops normal. Is there a concern with this that I'm missing?
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Re: Free Feeding Question

Postby flitecontrol » Wed Jun 13, 2018 11:03 am

I have given my GSP, WPG, GWP and DD free access to food since bringing them home as pups. All have self regulated intake and maintained a healthy body weight. Don't think you will have a problem doing it.
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Re: Free Feeding Question

Postby JONOV » Wed Jun 13, 2018 11:12 am

flitecontrol wrote:I have given my GSP, WPG, GWP and DD free access to food since bringing them home as pups. All have self regulated intake and maintained a healthy body weight. Don't think you will have a problem doing it.

Thanks. That was my thought as well, but didn't know if I was missing something for a pup.
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Re: Free Feeding Question

Postby Hunters Edge » Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:02 pm

https://www.proplan.com/dogs/dog-care/p ... dy-in-dogs

I do not self feed because of the research results above.
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Re: Free Feeding Question

Postby AverageGuy » Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:22 pm

I used to free feed but I stopped. I travel hunting a lot and need my dog to eat and then rest at the end of the day. So I want the dog to be conditioned to eat what I set down in a reasonably short amount of time.
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Re: Free Feeding Question

Postby flitecontrol » Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:19 pm

Hunters Edge wrote:https://www.proplan.com/dogs/dog-care/purinas-landmark-life-span-study-in-dogs

I do not self feed because of the research results above.


I agree that Purina's study establishes that overweight dogs do not fare as well as those that are not overweight. Beyond that, I wouldn't draw conclusions that aren't there. It used Labs as subjects, so it doesn't necessarily apply to other breeds. My son tried giving his Labs free access to food and the dogs would eat until they vomited, then eat more. There's a post on this forum about a member's Lab that ate an entire (17lb IIRC) bag of dog food at one time. Having seen a number of overweight Labs, I'll go out on a limb and suggest that many of that breed will overeat if given the opportunity. My son's beagles have free access and are not overweight. I'm certainly not recommending giving a dog that will over eat unlimited food.

When travelling to hunt, my dogs have no problem eating and resting at the end of the day. They eat significantly more than normal, just as I do, due to burning a lot of calories.
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Re: Free Feeding Question

Postby JONOV » Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:46 pm

AverageGuy wrote:I used to free feed but I stopped. I travel hunting a lot and need my dog to eat and then rest at the end of the day. So I want the dog to be conditioned to eat what I set down in a reasonably short amount of time.

Agree, and I do that on hunting trips but aside from a weeks trip west and maybe a couple long weekends I’m a weekend warrior...and can’t even hunt Sunday in my state.
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Re: Free Feeding Question

Postby JONOV » Wed Jun 13, 2018 11:10 pm

Hunters Edge wrote:https://www.proplan.com/dogs/dog-care/purinas-landmark-life-span-study-in-dogs

I do not self feed because of the research results above.

I do not understand what that has to do with self feed or free feed. It describes dogs that were given unlimited food against a clock.
The whole point of why I do it is that food is always there, ergo less reason to guard it, or eat so fast they throw up.
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Re: Free Feeding Question

Postby orhunter » Thu Jun 14, 2018 9:26 am

I've said it before, the tendency to gulp food in ingrained (trained) by the mass feeding of an entire litter from a single large pan. They learn to compete, push and shove their littermates to get their share and for many the gulp habit never goes away. Breeders need to start busting up the herd at feeding time to reduce/eliminate the competitive urge that will otherwise develop.
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Re: Free Feeding Question

Postby hicntry » Thu Jun 14, 2018 9:46 am

JONOV wrote:
Hunters Edge wrote:https://www.proplan.com/dogs/dog-care/purinas-landmark-life-span-study-in-dogs

I do not self feed because of the research results above.

I do not understand what that has to do with self feed or free feed. It describes dogs that were given unlimited food against a clock.
The whole point of why I do it is that food is always there, ergo less reason to guard it, or eat so fast they throw up.


Nice catch. That study has nothing to do with free feeding. I free fed yards full of dogs for years and none over ate and were in great shape. As far as teaching pups to gulp their food through having to compete with littermates....there may be a bit of truth to that. But, it is created simply because there is a bottom to the feed bowl. The simple solution, as per free feeding, is to keep the bowl full all the time. Not exactly rocket science.
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Re: Free Feeding Question

Postby Coveyrise64 » Thu Jun 14, 2018 9:59 am

Wrong.....the mass feedings begin when the mother starts to nurse. Ten hungry pups are worse than a swarm of piranhas!

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orhunter wrote:I've said it before, the tendency to gulp food in ingrained (trained) by the mass feeding of an entire litter from a single large pan. They learn to compete, push and shove their littermates to get their share and for many the gulp habit never goes away. Breeders need to start busting up the herd at feeding time to reduce/eliminate the competitive urge that will otherwise develop.
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Re: Free Feeding Question

Postby orhunter » Thu Jun 14, 2018 10:58 am

Coveyrise: You weren't supposed to catch that.
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Re: Free Feeding Question

Postby Dakotazeb » Thu Jun 14, 2018 1:36 pm

I don't understand why you would want to "free feed" your dog. Especially a hunting and/or trial dog. You want the dog working on an empty stomach. I would seem free feeding would not allow that. Like averageguy said, I want the dog to eat his/her ration of food when I put if down in the evening.
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Re: Free Feeding Question

Postby JONOV » Thu Jun 14, 2018 2:14 pm

Dakotazeb wrote:I don't understand why you would want to "free feed" your dog. Especially a hunting and/or trial dog. You want the dog working on an empty stomach. I would seem free feeding would not allow that. Like averageguy said, I want the dog to eat his/her ration of food when I put if down in the evening.

Your overthinking it. If hunting the next morning I pull the food up at night, although honestly its not a concern, since they don't wake up and scarf down two cups of food anyway. In a normal workweek, I can hunt Saturdays (against the law to hunt migratory birds, or anything on public land, on Sunday.) On a hunting trip, I feed him at night. He eats relatively quick then, since he's hungry and tired. Also, when we're travelling he'll eat when I tell him too, and not until I tell him to (and no, I didn't train that though my wife may have for the therapy dog test.)

There are usually two or three dogs in my house. My dog, and a revolving door of foster's*. If it were just my dog, I'd probably do the morning and evening feeding thing and just the evening feed when we hunted and that would be it. Every foster I've had come through has come in underweight and usually with a handful of things to work through, resource guarding/food aggression for every single one, and usually dogs that eat so freaking fast they vomit later or cough while they eat.

The routine allows me to tell the families that adopt the dogs that "he eats with my other dog with no problems. He'll let me come right up to his food or him while he's eating with no aggression." I'm sure a behaviorist could tell me I'm doing something wrong but it works for me, but the way I do It allows me more time to worry about potty training the dogs, breaking them of counter surfing or other bad habits, etc...

Anyhow, I didn't come to promote the practice, just had a question on its application for the health, and growth and development, of a puppy.

*The fosters were a marital compromise against getting a second puppy. I didn't want a year old dog and a puppy, because I didn't want to train two young dogs, and didn't want to geriatric dogs down the line.
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Re: Free Feeding Question

Postby Hunters Edge » Fri Jun 15, 2018 9:19 am

Not only does the study show health issues later in the dogs life but shortens the dogs life. Which we all should be trying to extend that time we can share with them.

What also I would like to point out deep chested dogs should not eat 2 hours before or after heavy excersize to minimize twisted gut. I do not want to debate this, several articles/data point to this others not. I prefer to way on caution especially when hunting often times we are not close to a veterinary service or closed on weekends.

In the end you do what you want, just be prepared to pay the consequences. I have multiple dogs and just fed them in separate rooms to prevent fighting. It is also a great training for steady by blind and retrieves (even though they are not retrieving).

Dogs sit and carry dishes, call one dog as the others sit, close door in M bathroom, call next dog close M bedroom, call the next in bathroom close door etc.

In the field in each kennel, which you may have portable kennels in basement or laundry room would work as well.

By separating it stops any fighting before it happens or eliminates the catastrophe. Next being separated also they eat the food at the rate each dog is comfortable at just pick up food dish in15 minutes.

I will not advise self feed for multiple reasons, and do not believe anyone should advocate it to others for those same reasons.
Last edited by Hunters Edge on Fri Jun 15, 2018 10:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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