How to Train a Dog to Eat on a Schedule

Routine is important for your dog’s well-being, and this includes setting a regular meal schedule. By establishing a fixed feeding routine, you will be able to keep your dog healthy and reinforce their perception of you as a provider, rather than a servant. 

Here, we will help you train your dog to eat on a schedule so you can enjoy the company of a happy, obedient pet. 

Setting a Specific Time and Place

It’s crucial to feed your pup in the same spot every day. This will boost feelings of familiarity and security. When choosing a place to feed your dog, it’s recommended to opt for an easy-to-clean space, such as the kitchen floor or a plastic mat.

If it’s a new dog, you can start by feeding it out of your hand so it will easily recognize you as the provider.

Aside from choosing a place to feed your dog, set a designated time. Don’t just leave food out for your dog to eat whenever it likes. It’s recommended to establish a routine to help your pet’s metabolism as it will adjust to your set feeding schedule.

Also, this will help set its expectations and fortify its trust that it can rely on you to provide food at a specific time each day. The frequency of feeding depends on your dog’s age, nutritional requirements, and your schedule.

You can feed puppies up to four times a day, while senior dogs with lower levels of activity can be fed once a day or in smaller portion sizes. Most adult dogs are also fed twice a day– in the morning and in the evening, separated by around 8 to 12 hours to let them properly digest food and control their hunger.

You can also limit the duration of their access to food. This will teach dogs to eat their food as soon as it’s given and not be picky. By removing their food after a considerable amount of time, you will be able to put yourself in charge and establish your role as the provider and controller of food.

Managing Your Dog’s Routine

If necessary, you can adjust your dog’s routine and food intake to maintain its ideal weight. Serving size recommendations are just based on averages, but you still need to monitor your pup’s activity level and weight to make sure that its calorie intake is suitable for its needs.

You can decrease its daily portion to prevent it from gaining more extra pounds or increase the serving size of its meals if it’s losing weight. Note that you may have to tweak its routine and food portions based on its age, health, activity levels, and changes in weather or environment.

When making changes, implement them gradually. This will allow your dog’s metabolism and digestive tract to transition smoothly to the changes.

For example, if you’re planning to change the dog food, you can start by mixing the new one with its old food. Gradually increase the proportion of the new food over a span of one week or several days before completely serving the new food on its own.

When it comes to treats, you can use them as rewards, but make sure to limit your dog’s consumption of treats to just about 5% of its total food intake. Feeding your dog too many treats will make it more prone to overeating or will weaken its appetite for regular meals.

If you’re doing lots of dog training and need to use treats as rewards, you can increase the percentage to 20% but make sure to adjust its overall food consumption accordingly. 

Reinforcing Proper Mealtime Behavior

Mealtimes can be an excellent chance to bond with your dog and train it for essential skills such as making it sit and wait for your command before eating.

You can begin by having your dog “sit” while you’re preparing its food. Lower the bowl of food and then raise it back up every time your dog leaves the sit position. As your dog allows you to place the dish further down towards the ground before leaving the sit position, reward your dog with treats.

Once the bowl of food is on the ground, keep telling your dog to stay as you stand up, making sure that its attention is towards you and not on the food. Once it did so, say a command phrase such as “eat up” or “go ahead” to give it permission to eat.

If your dog goes for the food without your command, take away the bowl. When it learns to keep its focus on you and wait for your permission, you can increase the duration it has to focus on you to improve its impulse control.

Train your pooch gradually until you’ll be able to lay the dish on the ground without it leaving the sit position. In the long run, your dog will learn to sit and wait for its meal and eat only with your go signal. 

Need Help Training Your Dog?

Dog training takes time, patience, and consistency. If you’re not satisfied with your dog’s progress, the best professional dog trainers at Delaware K9 Academy can step in. Get in touch with them to learn more about their private classes, puppy training, and two-week bootcamps.