Scheduled Versus Free Feeding

There is a long-running debate among dog owners the world over: scheduled versus free feeding. Do I feed my dog a certain amount on a specific timetable, or do I fill her bowl and let her graze, eating what she wants when she wants? The recommendations here are going to be the same for your Goldendoodle as they are for other breeds.

Dogs are mammals. So are humans. Dogs have metabolisms and process foods according to their bodies’ needs. So do humans. Most people have seen elite athletes or weight trainers. It often seems like they are constantly shoving something into their mouths. But this type of grazing is typically regimented and measured.

A person can graze—or free feed—and not have any detrimental effects because he is disciplined about it. The same can be said for your Goldendoodle. We are going to go over the benefits and negatives of both scheduled and free feeding.

Controlling the environment

One of the most important things for you to do when you bring your Goldendoodle puppy home is to control her environment in order to facilitate her training. This is where scheduled feeding becomes a benefit.

When you feed and water your puppy first thing in the morning, you are going to have a pretty firm idea about her bathroom schedule. If her feeding and walking and outside times are scheduled, it is less likely that accidents will occur. And if they do or she becomes ill, you have a detailed list to give your vet when you take her in.

By scheduling her feeding times—likely once in the morning and once in the early afternoon or late evening—you have a firm idea of what and how much she eats. By monitoring her eating habits, you know that she either receives sufficient nutrition or not. As an added bonus, it gives you more one-on-one time, quiet moments, where it’s just the two of you.

The downsides of free feeding

What happens to us when we don’t pay attention to what we eat? If humans graze, we increase the risk of obesity and other related health problems. Goldendoodles are mammals too. The same thing can happen to them. 

Why choose free feeding? First of all, it is convenient. You fill a bowl and set it out for your pet. When you notice it is getting bare, you fill it up. No hassles. No worries…at least on the surface.

Dogs can be the same as us in certain situations. We can eat more than we need to if we are presented with the opportunity. Who doesn’t try to sneak a second piece of chocolate cake at a birthday party? Dogs evolved, just as were did, to take advantage of feast times because you never know when a famine will come.

Our modern dogs don’t face famine any more than we do. That tendency to overeat can have negative health consequences. Dogs don’t know that, so they don’t even try to avoid overeating.

Also, if you are free feeding your Goldendoodle and she gets sick, you may not be able to tell the vet how soon after she ate she started feeling bad. You cannot determine how much she is eating each time. This lack of information can be an issue if problems arise.

Another consideration is if you have more than one dog. Will you be able to tell if one is dominating the food bowl and not letting the other eat?

When it comes right down to it, a scheduled feeding program is going to be better for the long-term health and well-being of your Goldendoodle. Too many problems can arise with free feeding.