When we got our first Chihuahua puppy we were told to free feed him until he was least 2 lbs or 4 months of age. Six years later and now with 5 chis, we are still free feeding. And it works.
It's common advice out there that you should never free feed your dogs. There are those who will tell you that you are destined to have overweight dogs if you free-feed or worse.. Your dogs wont see you as the 'alpha' because they wont know that the food comes from. Somewhere in dog land there is this myth of magical bowls that just generate kibble entirely without the help of humans and if you have one of those bowls you are lucky and just misbehave all you want and still eat!! Hahahaa.. how glorious that must be!
But interestingly enough, I have been free-feeding for years and find that not only do I NOT have those problems but I don't have a lot of problems that schedule feeders have. hmmm.... Maybe there is something 'magical' about this food bowl after all!
The truth is that dog really do see you put kibbles in the bowl. They are pretty smart little chibabies after all! And they actually monitor their food intake on their own pretty well too. They eat when they are hungry and they stop when they have had enough.
I don't have overweight dogs. Little Susu is just as scrawny as he ever was and while Ginger is a hefty girl she is not overweight just more of the 'Chi-nocerous' build. Free fed dogs never feel that the need to just eat everything in the bowl.
I also don't have dogs that fight over food or feel the need to resource guard because they know there is plenty for everyone. They snack and munch on kibbles whenever they want and it works great for us. Dinner is never 'late' and no one ever goes hungry. (See scowler to the left)
And I don't see the behavior problems some like to toss around either. My dogs know that the food comes from us because well they are smart like I mentioned earlier and they do see who fills the bowl and all. But I really don't see how feeding on a schedule could suddenly create well behaved dogs anyway and from what I've seen there are a lot of poorly behaved schedule fed dogs roaming around waiting for dinner.
The bottom line there is if you want well behaved dogs you need to take the time to train them. Free feeding or schedule feeding will have very little to do with overall behavior.
However, dogs who are free fed do not feel a need to fight or quibble about food. Fighting over the food bowl is a major issue in a lot of multi-dog households and its one I'm happy to say that we don't have.
Chihuahuas are wonderfully spirited little dogs full of love and energy! Anyone who knows them can tell you how lively their personalities are. I have 5 chihuahuas, 3 of which are puppies. Susu, Ginger, Cori, Fen, & Cinna. I'll be sharing my thoughts here on everything from health issues, to food, to fashion and fun for the small dog.
I hope you enjoy the blog, leave me a comment and follow along!!
-- Michelle K.
While the main dog here is the Chihuahua, I believe the information here is valuable and entertaining to any small dog owner.