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onesojourner
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My breeder has Free Fed our 9 month old puppy since birth. I have read that cairns tend to gain weight second only to labs. should I change things up? he doesn't really seem to eat a ton at a time. He is one of those go grab a couple pieces from the bowl and then run about 20 feet away to eat it. He doesn't go back and forth I think by the time he gets away from the bowl and eats that he gets distracted and forgets that he was eating. Is the a normal weight gain for his age?

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I've got a year and a half old Cairn that also seems indifferent to food-unless there's a treat involved...

I think that as long as you keep a handle of what's going in the bowl day to day, and you aren't constantly refilling it throughout the day, you won't end up with an overweight dog. Unless you want to institute a feeding time, or a couple times. I suspect there would be some adjustment for your dog, but it can be done. You have to be strict though about what is feeding time, and what isn't, and how long the bowl will stay down. My thought would be is that for a couple days your dog does what he's doing now, until he realizes dinner's not a free for all anymore.

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interesting questions. at age 3 my cairn weighed a little over 22 lbs, which was too fat. he is at the big end of cairns, but 22lbs is the breed max and he felt like a large boulder when i picked him up. he wasn't free fed, but he ate everything i gave him, which as it turned out was a little too much. had he been free fed, he probably would have weighed 44 lbs. but maybe that is just his personal foible. since age 4 i've managed to keep him at a max of 19 lbs in the winter and about 17 or 18 lbs in the summer. he isn't at all skinny, but he is all muscle now.

i'm trying to imagine the option of free feeding for a cairn (which i'm conceiving as something like self-feeding from an "automatic" bowl). first, there is no way my dog would stop eating at the appropriate time. when he was a puppy there was another dog in the house. now there are cats. they don't want his food, but he certainly wouldn't take a chance. he would make all food visible disappear instantly, assuming the rest of the world really wants his dinner. he would probably stop eventually, but i don't think it would be when his metabolism tells him. it would be when he was so stuffed he couldn't eat any more.

suppose my cairn was some kind of calm, philosophical guy who would never think of being greedy about food. i still couldn't free feed, because the foods i give him have a certain degree of freshness quotient. even in an enclosed chamber, the feeding opening would allow them to dry out or sour. i would also be afraid it would eventually draw bugs.

but the real reason: learning discipline at meal times has been a very important part of socializing my cairn and getting him to curb his own aggressive impulses. for little puppies this might not be critical, but cairns begin to get ideas about themselves at a very early age. learning to sit politely and wait for the food to be placed in the bowl (by me) was indispensable in getting him to understand that grabbing for things is not permitted and that he is responsible for controlling his own behavior. there are other ways to get the message across, but for my dog learning to tolerate a little ritual at feeding time has been very important (it was more elaborate when there were two dogs, as the cairn had to sit quietly at the side and watch his elder and better eat first; THAT was character-building!). i wouldn't want to give up that tool, since i would then be limited to correcting him only when he is overtly aggressive, whereas i think the real issue is to get him to distance himself from some of his instincts on his own. food has been very important to that.

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I would not free-feed a Cairn but I guess some do. I believe it could be a recipe for trouble in a multi-animal household. Or wildlife: got a dog-door and a permanently full food dish? Say hello to Mr Possum and Mrs Raccoon :w00t: More seriously, I agree with pkcrossley's observation that having control over resources (food, shelter, toys) is a key element of the power role in relationships (human and/or dog). More an issue for some dogs than others, admittedly.

Bottom line for me is, much like crate-training, having a disciplined approach to mealtime is a tool - maybe not required now, but useful and available should you need it. Besides, it gives the dog an event to look forward to :)

Because the actual weight itself depends on so many factors (size, bone density, etc), it's hard to know much from a disembodied weight value. Other than for calculating dosages of medicines and whatnot I don't find much useful about knowing a dog's weight. Most everything you need to know can be observed with the eye and - especially - felt with the hands. OK, knowing a friend's dog's weight is useful for teasing purposes :P and it can be useful to document unexplained weight-loss or gain. Still, your hands can do the same qualitatively, if not quantitatively.

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got a dog-door and a permanently full food dish? Say hello to Mr Possum and Mrs Raccoon :w00t:

that's for sure. i've never had the courage to let my own pets go in and out on their own, but i know people around here who raise their cats with cat doors. three have separately told me of waking up in the middle of the night hearing their cats munching food in the kitchen and then realizing that the cat is actually sleeping on the bed. lights up in the kitchen and... slightly surprised raccoon, cheeks full of nice cat food, blinking in the glare. under these circumstances it is the custom for the raccoon to quietly leave the way it came and so far all have abided by the code (most do not hurry or show any sign of embarrassment, as that is not required by the etiquette).

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I believe eating, dog or human, is a celebration and should be treated as such, there fore I have many reasons for not free feeding. Weight is an obvious factor. I home feed my dogs so they are not finicky eaters. They know when each meal time should be and are anxiously waiting. As Caesars teaches, my dogs must be calm and submissive to get their meal. They mist sit quietly outside the kitchen while I take the food out of the fridge, serve it up and then microwave it then place it in the crate, then give them the command. They race to the cages and devour the meal. My dogs eat 2 to 3 times a day (depending on how much exercise they get) Scruffy is 14 lbs (20 mons old) and Sparky is 13 lbs at 9 mons. They also get peanut butter cookies, salmon and liver treats for in between good behavior.

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Maybe I'm misunderstanding the concept of free-feeding. If you traditionally feed your dog 2 meals a day and decide to just put the 2 meals in one bowl out in the morning, the same amount of food is going into your dog--the same amount of calories.

The more crucial things, I believe, may be the type of food you give them (lower protein? fewer calories?) and the time of day you feed them. If you feed them later in the day, they might be less active after that, less able to work it off.

My dog has always been a finicky eater--she was just never hungry in the morning when she was a pup, and she wasn't hungry even at 1 p.m. or so. (our situation is a bit different because we have a "nocturnal" lifestyle--I work nights, so she's up playing "soccer" and just chilling with me when I get home from work a bit after midnite. If we wake up, say, around 11 a.m. and head out for our long walk, she's not even hungry after that. I tried numerous "tests" to see what'd work. 3:30-4 was the earliest she'd eat.)

She eats when she's hungry--I don't see a huge problem with that, as long as she gets as much exercise as possible.

Having another dog in the house would probably make her eat faster (to keep the other from getting at her food)--but that's really not a good thing to do to the digestive system.

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free feeding means leaving a large supply of food out for your dog, typically many weeks worth, and they eat what they need. my brother free feeds his dog (a cross).... i couldnt imagine free feeding a cairn, maggie usually acts like its the last meal she ever see, i dont think she'd stop eating!hahaha!!

a

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i've never had to deal with a finicky eater, though i know other people who have had to. i don't know what methods work best in that case. the discipline issue would have to be handled in some other way, i guess.

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Omigosh!

'MANY weeks worth'?

That's just wrong, I think!

My friend's Lab got into the food bag one day and ate and ate and ate. OK, maybe Labs aren't as smart as Cairns (don't get mad, Lab owners!), but she ate until she was sick. It was a feast for her. They had to take her to the vets; I think they gave her something to speed the digestion. There was a big mess to clean up all of a sudden.

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Maybe I'm misunderstanding the concept of free-feeding. If you traditionally feed your dog 2 meals a day and decide to just put the 2 meals in one bowl out in the morning, the same amount of food is going into your dog--the same amount of calories.

I know if I ate my three meals a day all at the same time, I would be obese. your body can't use all of that food at once, which is why it is suggested that you eat six smaller meals a day instead. I expect it applies to your dog as well.

Mollie:Mollie.jpgLena:Lena.jpg
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This thread brings up an interesting question I've been wondering about. Currey is now just over 1.5 years, and for the past several months, his appetite and interest in food has waned. He used to take one meal around 11 or 12 and a second around 7 or 8. He's not been a "chow it all down as soon as I see it" guy since about 8 months of age - even when given an appropriately portioned meal, he may just decide to stop before the bowl is empty, unless I lace the food with something particularly tasty (human food, usually). Lately, I set his AM meal out, and he'd rather sleep till 4 - some days he doesn't even take any water till 3 or 4! Some days he doesn't even take a second meal. I feed canidae, and each meal is roughly 1/3 cup. He's a big boy - height and length - but so skinny. He seems to eat what he needs - still plenty of energy to go around, just all bottled up until the eveningtime, which is fine by me since he'll be unable to come with me to work starting soon.

The dillemma I have is that I realize I need more "alpha" control over him, and the power of being the giver of food and life is clearly a good control to exert. Especially since we've moved, he's been challenging me a lot lately. I hesitate to take up his meal after letting it sit for 30 minutes or so, though, because he is such a light and picky eater.

While this isn't free feeding as defined in previous posts, it certainly is much looser than what is descibed by others. What do folks think about taking up a bowl from a light/picky eater? I do exert alpha control with the food sometimes - he sits or does a number of tricks for all treats and he has to sit and wait when I add "extras" to his food every few days too, and he does a marvelous job of obeying in those circumstances. Is sometimes enough, or do I need to be consistent with it on a daily basis?

Edited by jodi0553
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Some will disagree with me, but were he mine I might try moving him to a single feeding in the evening. There are good reasons to feed multiple meals, but some dogs do not require it. For a picky eater it may 'concentrate the mind.' Absent a medical reason to do otherwise, we feed evenings only, with a reasonably large biscuit in the morning as a morning ritual. Again, absent a medical condition, I personally never hesitate to take up a bowl. It takes a long time to starve a dog, no matter what they may tell you. Indeed, we used to fast them one day a week. It turns out that while I may be a jerk, I'm still vulnerable to Big Brown Eyes.

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i agree with brad, picky eaters are sometimes just dogs who take their food for granted. if the food is less accessible, if it is given by the alpha with a bit of socializing along with it, and if it becomes an "event" to be anticipated, the food itself may become more interesting.

if your dog looks skinny to you, that doesn't sound right. of course we may all have a different idea of what skinny is, and if your cairn's coat is grown out, the only way to tell "skinny" would be to see if you can feel his ribs clearly.

if you spice up the interest in the food by making it more rare and more eventful, and your dog still leaves the food in the bowl, you might consider a different food. i know canidae is excellent, but if your dog doesn't find it tasty it probably isn't doing him much good. my dog is kind of crazy at the moment for innova evo bison. on the other hand, the premium dog foods, i am told (haven't researched it) have a higher protein content, to which the dogs evidently respond by eating less than they would eat of an industrial food with grain or meat "meal" content. maybe your dog is getting all the calories he wants with the amount he eats.

make the meals an event and lessen the amount you feed to what he normally eats. perhaps he will get more interested even without a change of food.

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We used to feed Abe one meal that was left down all day and he would pick at it and in the days time he would get most of it gone. Then when we got Scuffy things had to change Scruffy has the appetite of a Bear He would eat his , Abe's and whatever else he could find or beg someone out of. We changed to one meal in the evenings and it has worked out well. At first Abe would still just pick but we had to take it up or the Scuff Munster would eat enough for 2. After a few days Abe came around to the feeding cycle and now cleans his bowl along side of Scruffy and all is well.

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Many dogs are fussy eaters because they just do not get enough exercise. I know all the excuses, no time, too cold, too hot, dog wants to sleep, owner wants to sleep. Taking your dog for a long walk and then 45 minutes of hard play a day is an absolute requirement in my home. Tired dogs are good dogs and usually hungry. If your idea of exercise is letting the dog out in the fenced back yard, you are missing my point. For those of you with fussy eaters, Ramp up the play time and walks and I bet you find your dog eats more. If this is just not going to work for you, get a treadmill and work your dog out there.

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got a dog-door and a permanently full food dish? Say hello to Mr Possum and Mrs Raccoon :w00t:

Am I happy that Our outside doog door leads to a secured dog run! We havne't had a visitor yet... I think the chainlink roof on the dog run keeps everyone in, and everythign out.

Indeed, we used to fast them one day a week. It turns out that while I may be a jerk, I'm still vulnerable to Big Brown Eyes.

Mettwurst knows the word 'Hamburger', He gets very excited and feels left out if he doesn't get the 'drive-thru' experience- This of course is my husbands doing- I will let him know that some people fast their dogs 1 day a week and they still live!

Edited by Mysticsol8
Tracy, Brattwrust & Mettwurst a.k.a The Gremlins
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Many dogs are fussy eaters because they just do not get enough exercise.

true, true...but not the case in this house. Lots of walks and play here. He's just weird - not really picky so much as just a light eater. I do think he is thin, but not too thin. I get worried when he eats only 1/3 cup of food a day for 3 or so days, but I figure as long as he's eating something, he clearly has an appetite (he'll beg for any human food, especially our favorite snack, Pirate's Booty) and he's really active, well, then I just guess he's ok. Mostly, I just want to use the food for alpha control, but he won't get excited about a bowl of dog food, ever.

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i'm sure you've already thought of this, but... any chance that pirate booty is displacing his appetite or ruining his taste for healthy dog food?

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My first Cairn, Zoe, figured out how to free-feed herself. I had a huge plastic bin on the floor with a snap-on-top full of dog food. I came home one day and fed the dogs their evening meal as usual. I was shocked to find Zoe eating very slowly, so I assumed she was sick and examined her. She was very, very bloated.

A couple of days later the same thing happened, but his time Zoe looked like she swallowed a football - whole. Her stomach was so taught I thought it might burst.

So here's the strange thing - each time when I came home the cover on the food bin had not been removed. Then I thought about it a bit and it dawned on me that I did not have to snap the lid open when I got the food out that evening. The lid was still on top of the food bin, but not as tight as it should have been. So then I examined the lid really closely. What did I see? I saw that there were tooth marks all around the area where you need to snap open the lid.

I am talking about a food bin that was probably 2-1/2 feet from bottom to top. (I had four dogs and it fit more than a 40lb bag of food.) It seemed impossible even for Zoe to get at the food unless she was literally in the bin itself. Whatever she did, she managed to stuff herself to bursting by opening the bin without dislodging the cover. (Or did she take off the cover, jump in the bin, eat her fill, jump out and then replace the cover?) To this day I still cannot imagine how she did it - but from then on I put the bin on top of the table .. and the next time Zoe looked as bloated was when her belly was full of six little puppies. :-)

Cairns and free-feeding do not mix - they don't call them the labs of the terrier world for nothing!

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Many dogs are fussy eaters because they just do not get enough exercise.

true, true...but not the case in this house. Lots of walks and play here. He's just weird - not really picky so much as just a light eater. I do think he is thin, but not too thin. I get worried when he eats only 1/3 cup of food a day for 3 or so days, but I figure as long as he's eating something, he clearly has an appetite (he'll beg for any human food, especially our favorite snack, Pirate's Booty) and he's really active, well, then I just guess he's ok. Mostly, I just want to use the food for alpha control, but he won't get excited about a bowl of dog food, ever.

When I fed only dry food to my dogs 1/3 of a cup was all they needed to maintain a healthy weight. Mine would gladly have eating more .. a LOT more.

Sounds to me that if your Cairn is eating 1/3 cup a day he's eating as much as he needs and no more, which is great.

If you want "Alpha" control over your dog food has nothing to do with it. Try obedience training and praise. Praise is either a verbal "happy voice" or a quick game with a favorite toy. Food works as a reward for dogs that are highly food-motivated, if they are not then you use somethine else as a reward. Also, every time your dog does as you ask, no matter how small (off the sofa, letting you clip a nail, not jumping) make sure you praise your dog. Every dog wants to please, even if it does not always look that way :thumbsup:

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i definitely agree that food is not a good reward. but the "alpha training" issue as related to meals doesn't depend upon the idea of food as a reward. the dog gets fed when it is time to eat, not as a reward. but the importance of the ritual, of patience, of not grabbing, and of seeing who provides the food are important, i think, to getting a cairn to see himself as responsible for controllling himself to the extent he can. obedience training in other contexts is also important, too, of course. just want to be clear that feeding as i have been discussing it (and brad and others) isn't about using food as a reward for the dog, but about using the meal as a socialization event.

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Sandy never ate his food all at once. I used to leave his food in his cage, because I didn't have time to wait for him to eat before I went to work. So he always had food and water in his cage. I would even hear him munching at night while we were in bed. He always ate a little at a time. He was the perfect weight, 14 pounds all of his life. He was so active when I let him out, that he never got overweight.

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jodi, 1/3 cup twice a day isnt a light eater, i think thats a normal amount for an adult cairn, thats what we feed maggie...and very little treats throughout the day...and she's maintaining 15lb...

madwand... the idea of eating multiple times vs. once a day and being obese is a bit of a falacy, calories are calories -doesnt matter when you eat them... the idea is that humans cant control their volume and would binge if we only ate once a day, so multiple small meals controls that urge, better for sustaining energy/muscle mass if its spread out...

a

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This has been such an interesting topic for me-I think I've been overfeeding my dog! Kirby has been getting 1/3 cup of Innova Evo twice a day-and would leave food-she gets treats too. For fun I sometimes add the canned Merrick. I think she might need a little more that 1/3 cup per day- but I thought she wasn't eating enough. Brad, the breakfast biscuit is a great idea, since "princess" is not a morning person-what do you use? I'd like something that isn't just a treat, but "good" for her. She's not too thin, and really muscular.

Kirby gets to walk about 6-10 miles a day-three miles in the morning, 3.5 in the evening, and if it's a weekend, there's a third hike in the state parks. And she plays hard! So I know that lack of exercise isn't the issue. She comes in at 18 pounds, but you can't pinch an inch.

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