Should I feed my new dog once or twice a day?

My Answer:

As you know, the way you feed your dog is critical to dog behavior. This is especially true for puppies.

While some dogs do well with one meal a day, others do not. The difference is their metabolism rate which is affected by age, size, medical history and breed.  Also the amount of exercise he gets and even the temperature outside can affect his appetite.

Any sudden change in appetite can be serious, however. It’s best to talk to your vet if you notice a sudden or inexplicable change. My advice only concerns healthy dogs.

Something I have noticed with many puppy owners is a shift to once-a-day feeding as their puppy grows. This likely happens because dogs in the 6 to 18 month age range may no longer need growth nutrients like they did as puppies. At this maintenance stage of life, they require only half of the nutrients they used to.

As dogs enter this stage, owners can experience the dog turning up it’s nose at the morning or evening meal. Puzzled, the owner begins to think the dog only needs one meal a day when what it really needs is just half as much food.

One thing to keep in mind if you are feeding once a day, you may be inadvertently causing behavior problems in your dog. Why? If the dog is only fed once a day, he is left with an empty stomach for most of his waking hours. This could cause hunger tension which in turn can cause chewing, stealing food, begging at the table or pica (eating non-edible, non-nutritional things).

I recommend feeding twice a day, with your dog performing a “sit” or “down” at your command to earn each meal.

As always, be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are with the teacher of your children. And remember, “Opportunity Barks!”

(C) Jim Burwell 2011