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Dinner TimeFor the first few weeks you should continue feeding your puppy with the food he was fed on. Most breeders supply a sample bag to take home with you. If you want to feed something different then introduce the new food gradually by adding half of the new food to what he has been on. Gradually phase the old food out. Try to stick to a diet that was especially formulated for your breed of dog, especially if it is a large breed dog.

Many puppies are overfed which can lead to a variety of diseases, especially in large breeds. Large breed puppies require a diet that promotes slow but steady growth; smaller dogs often need energy-dense diets.

The first big question is to decide on canned or dry food. This is not much of a problem for small dogs who can easily be fed on either dry or canned or semi-moist foods.  Large breed dogs, however, should mostly be fed on dry food in most circumstances. Dry foods have less water in a cup of food and contains more roughage. Clean drinking water must always  be available close to the feeding area. The factors involved in determining the amount to feed your puppy, including age, current weight, anticipated adult weight, breed and activity level. That is why I always try not to allow my adult German shepherd males to weigh more than 40 kg and bitches more than 32 kg.

Raw-fed puppies often need more food than kibble-fed puppies, because good raw food will contain less fat and calories per ounce.

I recommend hand feeding during the first few weeks when puppy comes home for the mothering effect it has in telling the puppy that good things come from you! Food that is not given by hand is stuffed into a kong and is a great way for the pup to keep itself busy while eating and you are absent.

A common question is,” How often should I feed my dog?” Puppies eat more for their weight than adult dogs, and young puppies eat more than older puppies.

  • Puppies less than 3 months of age should be fed at least four times a day by hand or Kong if possible.
  • Puppies between 3 and 5 months of age should be given three meals a day; older puppies often do well with twice-daily feedings.  
  • Adult dogs can be fed once or twice a day. As a general rule, puppies can be moved to adult foods between 6 and 10 months of age, depending on size and physical development.

It is very important that you give your puppy the best nutrition to protect its health. Choose food that will provide a balanced diet. Feeding information on dog food packages are only general guidelines. As a rule you should buy what your dog can eat in a month in order to make sure the food has not expired. This will naturally depend on the size of the dog and the food. Dogs like routine, so establish a feeding routine and stick to it.

I recommend feeding your puppy the amount of food required to keep her lean. You should be able to easily feel her ribs, spine and other bones. You should also clearly see a waist when she is lying down or when viewed from above.

Feeding time:

For many a good time to feed the dog is during the family meals. This keeps the dog busy while the rest of the family is eating and stops begging at the table. However, as a general rule, my dogs get fed after I have eaten. I also prefer limited time feeding rather than free choice where food is available all day long.

They know when their food is being prepared by the sound of their dishes being moved, the noise of the food container and the tin opener and naturally get excited. Making use of a dinner gong is a novel way of summonsing the dogs and they react very well to the sound. Now is the time to put them into calm, waiting mode to experience/learn self control and to build attentiveness by getting them to wait some distance away until the food is ready.

Right from the start dogs also need to learn a very important lesson, that  …”nothing in life is free” and that they need to “earn” the food given to them. As pack leader I feed my dogs so that they know that good things come from me.  Quanto first has to do a “Sit, stand, down” in any order, then has to make eye contact with me before he gets his food. Juno , “Sits, geblouts” (bark) and then makes eye contact before she gets her food. I know when she is hungry because she will bark as soon as I touch the dishes. Polo has a “watch me” ritual to complete before eating.

Allow your pup to eat at her own pace for about 10 minutes. What is not eaten within a ten minute period is covered and served at the next meal.

Food aggression.

There is a big difference between food drive and food aggression. When my Shepherd puppy gobbles down his food tail wagging even if I am still touching his bowl or am holding it slightly off the ground, then I’m looking forward to a dog that will be good at tracking in Schutzhund training.  However, if my puppy shows signs of posessiveness, such as trying to turn and cover the food with his body as I go nearer the dish, the hair stands up on his neck and the tail stiffens, then he is telling me to stay away and I need to take immediate action before it becomes an obsession.

Witholding the food at waist height and waiting until the dog sits calmly is a ritual that my nip serious problems in the bud. In a multi dog household, feeding the calm dogs first should send a clear message to the food aggressive one.

Growling is a more serious warning that you or any of the other dogs may be bitten if you attempt to go nearer the food. Professional help is indicated.

Never try to treat food aggression with affection in order to stop the behaviour!

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