Many people say a puppy should be fed from the bowl or that it is best that a puppy never free-feeds. However, if you want to know whether free-feeding your puppy is terrible for him health-wise, these opinions don’t hold much weight. In this article, I will give you facts about free-feeding your puppy and help you make up your mind about free-feeding altogether.

What is Free-Feeding a Dog?

What is Free-Feeding a Dog?

Free-feeding allows your dog to have access to dry dog food throughout the day, without restrictions. This is commonly done with automatic feeders that dispense food at set intervals.

Free-feeding is often recommended to help your dog maintain the ideal body weight and reduce the risk of obesity. It can also be helpful for dogs who suffer from separation anxiety because it helps them avoid feeling hungry when their owners are away from home for long periods.

However, free-feeding isn’t appropriate for every dog or every situation. For example, some dogs will overeat if given the opportunity, while others may become bored and eat less than they should.

Here’s what you need to know about free-feeding a dog:

Free-feeding allows your dog to eat as much food as he wants. It’s not the same as free-choice feeding, which refers to a feeding system where dogs can access food at any time.

The term “free-feed” probably comes from the idea that when you leave food out for your dog, he won’t know when to stop eating. A better description of this practice might be “unlimited access” or “ad libitum,” which means “as much as they want.”

What is Free-Feeding a Dog?

Why Do People Free-Feed Their Dogs?

Free-feeding is common among owners who feed their pets dry kibble because it allows them to keep their dogs occupied with something to do while they go about their daily lives. If your dog has something interesting to do like eating, he won’t try to get into trouble or make too much noise while you’re gone. However, this strategy doesn’t always work out as well as planned.

Why Do People Free-Feed Their Dogs?

Benefits and Risks of Free Feeding

Free-feeding has both advantages and disadvantages. It can be beneficial if you want your dog to eat more slowly or if you want to avoid leaving food out constantly. But it also poses some risks for overweight dogs, especially since some dogs overeat when they are free-fed.

The Benefits of Free-Feeding Your Dog

One of the benefits of free-feeding is that it helps eliminate mealtime stress from both you and your pup: Your dog no longer has to wait for his dinner each night, and you won’t have to worry about whether or not he gets enough food when left alone during the day (and therefore overeats). This can be especially helpful if your pup has anxiety around food or other dogs.


It makes life easier for you because you don’t need to worry about feeding your dog at specific times or amounts throughout the day. The only time you’ll have to think about providing them is when you’re preparing their food.

Easier to Train

When dogs are fed at specific times each day, they will begin to expect those meals to be given at regular intervals. This can make it challenging to train them not to beg for food or try to steal your dinner! If you want your dog to learn better manners around food, consider free-feeding instead.

Better Digestion

Dogs fed on a set schedule tend to wolf down their meals in one go and then feel hungry again soon after. This can lead to digestive problems such as diarrhea or constipation because the food has not had enough time in the stomach for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients. Feeding at regular intervals can also overfeed if your dog does not get enough exercise between meals or snacks. Free-fed dogs tend to eat more slowly and spend more time chewing their food correctly.

Benefits and Risks of Free Feeding

Prevents Obesity

Free-feeding can also help prevent obesity in dogs with poor self-control when eating treats left out for them during the day.

Prevents Bloating

It helps prevent bloat in large breeds like Great Danes, German Shepherds, and Doberman Pinschers by reducing stress and anxiety caused by empty stomachs or full bowls of food at regular intervals or times throughout the day.

Saves Time and Money

You don’t have to waste time preparing meals or cleaning up after them — fill the bowl with food and let them go at it!

The Risks of Free-Feeding Your Dog

Free-feeding is when your dog’s food and water are available all day long. The idea behind free-feeding is that it allows your dog to eat as much as he needs at any given time. As long as you don’t overfeed your dog, this can be an effective way to feed your pet.

However, free-feeding can also lead to serious health problems for dogs — especially overweight ones — which vets often recommend against it.

Here are some of the Risks of free-feeding:

The Risks of Free-Feeding Your Dog


When you free-feed a puppy or adult dog who doesn’t need all that food every day, they may overheat and become obese over time. This puts them at risk for other health problems like joint pain and mobility issues later in life because they carry extra weight on their bodies.


If your dog overeats in one sitting and then runs around immediately afterward, he could be at risk for bloat. This severe condition occurs when the stomach twists on itself, causing pressure on blood vessels and blocking blood flow to organs like the heart and lungs. Dogs who spend a lot of time outside playing fetch or other active games are at higher risk for bloating since they tend to eat quickly after exercise instead of waiting until they’re done running around before feeding again.

The Habit That’s Hard To Break

Dogs naturally tend to overeat when they’re presented with an unlimited supply of food, especially if they’re bored or anxious. If you start free-feeding your dog but then stop after a few weeks, he may continue begging for more food even though he doesn’t need it anymore.

The Risks of Free-Feeding Your Dog

Can Lead to Bad Behavior

One of the most significant risks associated with free-feeding dogs is that they may develop lousy behavior like begging for food or stealing food from other people in the house. This can happen because dogs receive food whenever they want; it becomes less reinforcing for them and, therefore, isn’t as rewarding. They might even become aggressive if you try to take away their treats or other food items!

Vulnerable To Disease

Free-feeding also makes it harder for you to monitor your dog’s eating habits, making it difficult for you to spot potential health problems early on — such as diarrhea, vomiting, or other signs of illness.

Conclusion: Should You Feed Your Puppy Whenever They Want?

Conclusion: Should You Feed Your Puppy Whenever They Want?

The answer is yes and no.

Yes, it would help if you fed your puppy on a schedule. The frequency of meals depends on their age, but puppies generally need three meals per day until they’re about 12 weeks old. Then it’s okay to reduce the number of times you feed them each day by one or two meals until they reach adulthood at around six months old.

No, don’t let your puppy eat whenever it wants. If you’ve been away from home for more than a few hours or if it’s bedtime and you’ve already fed your puppy once today, tell them no when they ask for food after these times — even if they’re crying! This teaches them that food is not always available at all hours of the day and night, which will help them develop good eating habits as an adult dogs.


Conclusion: Should You Feed Your Puppy Whenever They Want?

While there are positives to free feeding, there can also be issues, especially when leaving your dog home alone. If this concerns you, you might want to set up a feeding schedule and put your pup on a regular timetable.

This doesn’t mean you have to stand over him while he eats. But your dog will likely appreciate having his meals spaced evenly throughout the day, even if he scarfs down his food within three minutes on any given day.

In the end, whether or not you feed your puppy from a bowl or a bag will depend on what works best for him.

Should dogs be free-fed – How often should I feed my dog