Small dogs are usually house dogs, that means they may be confined in the home for several hours a day without access to potty breaks. By scheduling your small dog to eat at certain times you can help regulate when he needs to go to the bathroom, so you are available to let your dog outside for potty breaks, or arrange for a dog sitter or neighbor to let him out when needed. Another benefit of teaching your dog to eat at certain times is that a small dog in the home can eat out of boredom if they are always provided access to food, and because a small dog may be housebound he is prone to weight problems from overeating. Scheduling eating times can also help with training. You can conduct training prior to scheduled meal times and then use the scheduled meal time as part of a reward for a successful training session. Most dogs can be scheduled to eat twice a day, but a small dog or a young dog with a smaller stomach may need to eat three times a day. Water can be provided at all times, or if required for potty training, water can be restricted to 5 or 6 times a day.
If you want your small dog to eat at certain times you will need to set a schedule and then be consistent with it. This means making sure you or someone else is available to feed your dog at the prescribed time. You will need to provide food at the designated time and then remove your dog's food dish, whether they have finished their entire meal or not. Make sure you have time when establishing a feeding schedule so that a hectic schedule does not distract your dog from eating. A panicky morning rush may not be the best time to schedule your dog’s feeding. You should also establish how much to feed your small dog for his breed, weight, and activity level and divide feedings up as evenly as possible, ideally twice a day, 12 hours apart, or 3 times a day about 8 hours apart. You will want to ensure there is adequate time after eating to provide a potty break before bedtime or going to work for the day, so your little guy gets his needed bathroom break approximately ½ to 1 hour after eating.
Be sure to choose a nutritious dog food and determine the correct amount to meet your dog's nutritional requirements. Divide the correct amount into 2 or 3 portions over a 24-hour period and set a schedule. You can use a timer to remind yourself when your dog needs to be fed, or use a time-release feeder. Time-release feeders are especially beneficial if you have to be away from the house for extended periods of time. Remember, your dog will need a bathroom break shortly after eating, so schedule automatic feedings when you will be home shortly afterward to let your dog out or arrange for someone else to take him for a bathroom break. Avoid giving your small dog treats between meals, it doesn't take much to fill up a small dog's tummy and ruin his appetite for dinner.