This article is contributed by guest writer, John Woods (dog trainer and member of the association of professional dog trainers).
Puppy Feeding Schedule: What’s The Best Schedule
Not only does a regular feeding schedule keep your pup’s small tummy from being over-stretched, but a routine when raising a puppy can make life so much easier.
Regular feeding times lead to regular toilet breaks and regular toilet breaks help you nail potty training.
Keeping a puppy busy whilst you’re busy will also mean he’s more likely to sleep when you need him too as well.
Could raising a puppy be that simple? Well, no, but we have some pointers to make it easier than it could be.
Puppy Feeding Techniques
Feeding your pup on a schedule as opposed to free-feeding (where you leave a bowl out for pup to help himself) has a number of benefits.
You can control what he eats, which is necessary for appropriate growth and development and it’s easy to increase or reduce calories as needed (you simply feed more or less).
You can see immediately if he’s off his food, which is often a symptom of a range of health issues and if you have a multi-pet home, you stand more of a chance of the right animal eating the correct food.
Why A Routine Is Important For A Puppy
Planning a feeding schedule automatically draws you to a routine.
When pup is young, after each meal, you’ll take him out to go potty.
In the back of your mind, you’ve got a pretty good idea of when he’ll next need to go out, so you predict it and reduce the chance that he’ll have an accident.
If you’ve planned your walks around feeding times too, you may notice that there will be a gap mid-afternoon where pup isn’t really doing much. This could be when you play some games with him or work on some training. You may even decide to feed his lunch in a slow feeder or as a game. Many studies have shown that animals prefer to work for their food, so this could be a great way to add some extra stimulation to his day.
So, what’s the best schedule?
There isn’t a perfect feeding schedule, everyone has different lifestyles and routines, but there are some general pointers which can help you get started.
As soon as you wake up, let Pup out to go potty. Ignore him until he has and then praise and reward him.
Food Before or After Exercise?
You may decide to take him for a walk now or give him his breakfast. The important thing is to wait around an hour before doing the opposite.
So, if you feed him, wait an hour to go for a walk, or if you head straight out for a walk, wait an hour before you feed him. It has been thought that this wait period reduces the chance of bloat.
Your pup will need 3-4 meals per day. This is so you can easily spread the high number of calories he needs to grow! A general guide would be as follows:
But this can vary depending on your current schedule.
At his lunchtime feed, let him go potty as soon as he has finished eating. Again, ignore him until he has and then praise and reward him.
Sleeping After Food – Feeding Schedule
Pup may choose to sleep in the afternoon, we all know how much puppies like to sleep. Generally, they can sleep for up to 20 hours in any one day.
Some puppies find their second wind in the afternoon and want to play, if, in future this is the time where you will need puppy to be calmer and spend time resting, encourage him to do so.
If you have kids, they will likely want to play with pup if they’ve been at school, so allow him to conserve his energy for when they get back and get that mid-afternoon feed in before they arrive home.
Between 4-8pm is probably the busiest time in most homes, people coming home, errands and chores being done.
Some owners choose to feed pup before they themselves eat as it can stop pup from scavenging, but the reality is, if you don’t feed pup from the table, he’ll soon stop asking. Feeding him once the rest of the family is sorted is often easier as you can again take him straight out to go to do his business. Remember to take him out to potty just before bed too!
As he grows you may choose to reduce to 3 meals, but realistically you won’t be down to two meals until he’s fully grown. This could be around 12 months for a toy or small breed or 18-24 months for a large or giant breed.
Organizing a regular feeding schedule can help you get into a routine with your pup.
Not only does this ensure you are feeding him what he needs and when, but it can help in your potty-training efforts.
Ultimately when you choose to feed your pup will depend on your lifestyle and current routine, but our top tips will certainly make raising your pup somewhat easier!