Copyright 2013. Slee Canine Training & Security. All rights reserved.

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     Many canine nutritionists recommend feeding your canines on a fixed, rigid schedule. Science does lend some credence to that theme, and at one time I adhered to that religiously. But there came a time when my schedule became irregular, and I worried about the effect it would have on my dog, having only one at the time. Then I got to thinking about some things of nature, which modern day thinking often contradicts. I changed that theme and have stuck to it.
     To start with, all dogs sprang from the wolf, wild dog and/or coyote. None of those critters eat on a fixed schedule, and they do just fine. The nutritionists also will tell you that a perfectly healthy dog will occasionally go off food for a couple days or so, for no apparent reason. They just do. So if that is the case, which it is, and some dogs go close to a week without eating, to no ill effect, then what's the big deal about feeding on a fixed schedule? From experience, I say it is no big deal, and feeding on a irregular, or somewhat irregular, schedule is just fine, and can be beneficial in many cases, though there are a few breeds which may have overly sensitive stomachs.
     I know of people who, if eating a meal off schedule, actually get sick, and so will a dog if it is used to eating on a fixed schedule, or it can. That's no good. having grown up farming, during planting and harvest season, we often had an irregular schedule, to no ill effect, because we got used to it. And so can a dog. A dog used to eating on a fixed schedule will begin to water at the mouth near the feeding time, as their stomach juices start flowing, because that's what they're used to. My dogs' stomach juices start flowing when I start gathering up bowls, because they're used to a somewhat irregular feeding schedule, which often varies within half an hour to an hour at times, to no ill effect. When we lived on a farm, we didn't have to call the cows in from the pasture 1/3 of a mile from the feeding lot; when they heard the shovel scraping on the cement floor of the corn crib, they'd come running. We did feed them on a pretty rigid schedule, but if a farming operation prevented feeding at the exact time, the herd might be standing in the feed lot waiting, but patiently, because they also knew that until they heard the shovel scrape, they wouldn't eat. They can be conditioned to whatever the situation dictates. Note that with cattle, if they have to wait too long, they have a tendency to break fences and such if they're not pastured, but the concept is the same.
     With working dogs, I think it best they are fed on a somewhat irregular schedule. What if it's 10 minutes to feed time, and you have to go out on a search/rescue op or a security op, or you simply have to leave for a while? The dog's performance could suffer if they're too used to being fed on too tight of a schedule. I currently feed around 6 pm, except on Tuesday, then it's 5 pm or so, because of my schedule. My dogs are quite healthy. They are patient, but once they see me gathering bowls, it's time to eat now.
     Irregular feeding times? I say it's okay and in many cases, beneficial.
     Originally posted 3/11/2013

Todd A. Slee
POB 462 / 210 N. Church Dr.
Roann, IN 46974