Free Feeding: What and Why?

Everyone has an opinion on HOW to feed dogs, and all are valid in their own ways. Well, we at Pippin Tails are no different and I recognize this method may not work for all but I do believe that it’s why we don’t have food aggression (even though 3/4 dogs are bone/toy resource guarders).

Okay, so what is FREE FEEDING to me? Well, I put doggie kibble out in all bowls 2x a day between 1-2 cups per bowl, and I let the dogs eat when they want. I *try* to guide them to their own bowls but it doesn’t always work so it’s sort of a free for all. When we get a new pack mate, we keep bowls full at all times until everyone adjusts. We do not take up food, they do not have a limited time to eat etc.

Why do we do it? Well, honestly, I think it combats food aggression. I’m of the belief there is no “always alpha” in the pack and that the role changes based on value of what’s happening to each pack mate. Well, by feeding this way, there is no value placed on food or feeding time. If there is no value, there is no real dominance to be had. No dominance means no reason to assert. No asserting and we have no aggression.

Now, we have had a dog that did guard his food. We didn’t take it away (that would have made it worse) but if he wanted to lay and block of his bowl, fine. If he did it to others, he got scolded. That was his choice and since we adopted him at 10/11 years old, it was his way. We just established what was OK and was not OK behavior and let him do his thing. Eventually, it lessened substantially.

Of course, each dog’s behavior, breed and home design circumstance may affect this being possible. For us, free feeding is just what we do. What do you do with your multi-dog household?

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