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Your puppy is just a few months old. Yet it wasn’t long ago that you could fit them in your hands with ease. However, they quickly shoot up. They’re now a web of legs and tail tangled up, tumbling around your floors. Your puppy also probably lives a life of extremes. One minute they are charging around the house with seemingly endless energy. Next, they’re out cold and sleeping for hours on end. This all just makes you love their crazy personality more. However, there is one problem your pup: they won’t eat at certain times. This means they end up howling and begging for food at the table and at random points throughout the day.
Training your puppy to eat at certain times is actually incredibly important. Not only will they not beg and moan, but it also means it will be far easier to keep a handle on their weight. Furthermore, eating at certain times will allow you to get them into a consistent toilet routine too.
Training your puppy to eat at certain times can prove challenging for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it will require willpower from you to resist feeding them even when they look so cute. You will also need to be regimented and organized every day to ensure they get the right amount of food at the right times.
If your puppy is pretty receptive and doesn’t pester too much then training may only take a few days. However, if Fido is particularly persistent then getting them to eat at certain times may take a couple of weeks. Stick with training and you won’t have to worry about overfeeding. You will also set the foundations for an organized and easy-to-manage schedule.
Before you set to work, stock up on a few bits. You will need a generous supply of the pup's food so you don’t run out and break the routine. You will also need a clean and easily accessible food bowl.
Make sure you also have a space for feeding that is easily accessible for your puppy and close enough to their food supply. You need just 5 minutes a couple of times a day to get them into a habit of eating at certain times.
Once you have those things, just bring patience and a watch, then work can begin!
The Consistency Method
The first thing to do is find out how much food your puppy needs each day. This will depend on the breed, age and food you’re using. Then divide that into the number of meals you want to feed them each day, be it two or three, for example.
Choose a time each morning that you are always awake and that they are too. Then feed them their breakfast from their bowl. Stand around to make sure they finish it.
Then feed Fido their dinner at exactly the same time each evening. If you get them into a routine of eating at these points each day, they will soon know when to expect food and may start begging less.
Note you may also need to feed Fido at a couple of other points during the day when they are young. As they get older you can then cut their meals down to just two or even one a day. Again, try to stick to giving them the same quantities each time.
It is vital you do not give your puppy snacks, especially to start with. If they know you will feed them at random points through the day, they will come to expect that. So give them the cold shoulder when they beg, no matter how cute they look!
The Full Package Method
Decide how many meals you are going to feed your puppy and at what time. Then stick to these times each day. That may mean you have other people in the house feed them if you aren’t around.
It can also help to get Fido into a regular toilet routine. This will further help get their life into a schedule that you can control. So secure the pup to a leash and take them out to take care of business around 15 to 20 minutes after a meal.
Sit everyone in the house down. You need to make sure nobody will feed the dog outside of their meal times. If they do, Fido will be confused and get more frustrated when their begging doesn’t prove successful.
It’s also important your puppy only eats from their bowl. They will then learn that if there isn’t food in the bowl, then eating isn’t an option. This helps enforce some strict boundaries and rules around eating.
Increase the amount
If Fido is begging constantly, then make sure you are increasing the size of their meals gradually. Puppies grow quickly and therefore require an increasing amount of food. If you don’t feed your puppy enough it could lead to problems later on in life.
The Now or Never Method
Put a food bowl down in front of Fido around an hour before a meal time. However, leave it there for just a couple of minutes. This will signal to them that food is on the menu and will build up their anticipation.
Once an hour has passed, place their meal down. Allow them to eat until they stop eating. If they can’t finish it, leave it there for an additional 15 minutes or so and then pick it up. This will help let them know that food is only around for a short period of time.
If the pup begs in between meal times, when the bowl isn’t down, then you must be strong and not give in. You can even shut them out of the room if you are struggling to resist giving in. Alternatively, try giving them some ice cubes or some veggies to eat.
After a while your puppy should get into the habit of only eating at certain times. They will know that they’re only going to get a brief opportunity to eat properly. So you can then remove any extra snacks, such as ice cubes.
Your puppy is most likely to beg when they can see and smell you’re eating. So always send them to their bed at the beginning of your meals. They need to know that you are in total control of their eating and that your meal times are different from theirs.
By James Barra
Published: 04/10/2018, edited: 01/08/2021