All pet parents want what’s best for their dog. We go through an extensive process of researching and choosing the best food for our furry friends, and we even put effort into picking out the best food dishes.
But what about the specifics of your Dachshund’s meal time?
Free feeding is where your dogs always has access to their dog food. Scheduled feeding is serving their meals at regular times each day.
Whether you free feed your Dachshund or have them on a set eating schedule, it can have a massive impact on your pup’s physical and mental wellbeing.
In this comprehensive guide, we discuss the differences between free feeding and schedule feeding your Dachshund.
What Does Free Feeding a Dog Mean?
Free feeding means that your dog has constant access to their food, which is always available for consumption.
It’s almost like a doggy buffet – your pup can go back for more food whenever they choose.
Free feeding allows your dog to make the choice of when to eat but that’s not always the best thing to do.
While free feeding is incredibly convenient for pet parents because it doesn’t require much effort, this practice can be detrimental to your Dachshund’s physical and behavioral health.
Dogs who are free fed are much more likely to develop resource guarding habits, which means they will do whatever they need to in order to protect their food.
This can create a high amount of stress and anxiety for your Dachshund because they feel a constant need to guard their food.
There are some other factors to consider when it comes to free feeding a dog.
Kibble doesn’t quickly expire, so it’s okay to be left out. However, if you feed your dog raw or canned food it can become dangerous for consumption if left out in the open for too long.
Below are some pros and cons of free feeding your Dachshund:
Consider the pros and cons of free feeding before deciding if it’s right for your dog.
Pros of free feeding:
- Convenient for busy pet parents
- Helpful for dogs who eat slowly and prefer to graze
Cons of free feeding:
- Can cause obesity if your Dachshund is always wanting to eat, especially if there is zero portion control.
- Certain types of food can become dangerous for consumption if left out too long.
- Can create resource guarding habits
- Food left out can attract ants and other pests
- If your dog grazes throughout the day, it can be difficult to tell if there’s been a change in their appetite.
- In multi-dog households, one dog could be hogging the food while the other isn’t consuming enough.
Feeding Your Dachshund on a Schedule
When it comes to a healthy diet for your Dachshund, scheduled feeding is the way to go.
Scheduled feeding is the practice of offering your Dachshund more than one meal at a specific time each day.
Using a schedule to feed your Dachshund is helpful if you need them to be on a diet for health reasons.
For example, you may feed your pup in the morning before you head to work, then once more when you get home.
Pros of scheduled feeding:
- Scheduled feeding helps create a routine for your Dachshund. Dogs thrive on a daily routine.
- Helps maintain a healthy metabolism, which is crucial since Doxies are prone to obesity.
- Allows you to notice if there’s been a change in your pup’s eating habits.
- Helps to establish a potty routine (because most Dachshunds are in a habit of going potty right after eating)
- Creates safe behaviors and habits in multi-dog households
- Develops your bond with your dog, as they learn that you are the keeper of the meals.
- Best for pet parents who feed raw, canned or semi-moist food
There are many more pros than cons when it comes to feeding your Dachshund on a schedule. Overall it’s healthier for the mind and body.
Cons of scheduled feeding:
- Your Dachshund will relentlessly remind you when it’s time to eat.
- Your pup won’t eat at their scheduled time if you have a long day at work (unless you use a timed automatic feeder).
How Often Should You Feed Your Dachshund?
It’s advised that you don’t give your Dachshund, or any dog breed, just one meal per day. It’s better for your pup’s health if you offer multiple scheduled meals each day.
An adult Dachshund should ideally be receiving two meals per day – once in the morning and once in the evening.
If you have a young Dachshund puppy (less than 3 months old), they should eat four scheduled meals per day.
Dachshunds from 3-6 months should eat 3 meals per day, and it can be reduced to twice a day by the time they reach adulthood.
The number of times you feed your Dachshund depends on how old they are.
If you are feeding your Dachshund several meals a day, how much should you be feeding them at each meal?
This guide (insert article link later – leave this here as a placeholder) explains how much you should feed your Doxie, depending on their age and other factors.
When serving your Dachshund more than one meal a day, it’s VERY important to divide up the total amount of food they should be getting each day by the number of meals.
In other words, don’t feed the entire recommended amount of food at each meal. If you did that, you would have a very overweight Dachshund on your hands!
Switching Your Dachshund From Free Feeding to Scheduled Feeding
If you’re changing a Dachshund from free feeding to scheduled, they may whine, demand bark, or otherwise complain between meals.
Firstly, be aware what behavior you are enforcing/rewarding. Teach your Dachshund that poor behavior won’t get them food.
It’s important to transition if you are changing your dog from free feeding to a set feeding schedule. They probably won’t be happy with you at first but patience will pay off.
When your pup displays said behavior, refocus their attention elsewhere to buy yourself some peace until the next meal time.
When you are initially switching from free feeding to scheduled feeding, you may also want to consider taking the amount of food your dog should eat in a day and dividing it by 4.
Feed them 4 times a day with the first meal at the earliest time you want to feed, the last meal at the latest time you want to feed, and then space the other two in between.
After a couple of weeks, split the food into three meals and then eventually just the two at the preferred feeding times.
If your dog wants to wake you up too early to eat, try setting an alarm for the feeding times. Feed your dog only when the alarm goes off and eventually they will learn they don’t eat until it does.
Then you can start setting the morning alarm for 5 minutes later and later to move the feeding time from when they think they should be eating to when you are ok with being woken up.
There are ways to teach your Dachshund what time is acceptable to wake you up in the morning to be fed.
Remember that the transition period may take some time, and patience is vital to success.
Tools to Help You With Scheduled Feeding
Note: Some the links in this article are affiliate links (Amazon Associate or other programs we participate in). As an affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
If your work hours change sometimes, or you aren’t sure that you’ll make it home in time to feed your Dachshund a scheduled meal, you can invest in an automatic timed feeder.
Keep in mind that the ones we list below, with the exception of the last one, are only appropriate for dry kibble.
The PetSafe Smart Feeder connects with your smartphone so you can control meal time from anywhere. This automatic feeder has several different feeding options, including a “snack” setting.
The WOPET Automatic Pet Feeder is highly programmable, and you can even record your voice to make dispensed meals more exciting.
The Arf Pets Automatic Feeder offers portion control and up to four daily distribution alarms. It’s the perfect size for Dachshunds.
If you want to feed your Dachshund on a schedule, but don’t want your dog to depend on you for a meal, try an automatic feeder.
If you’re looking for an automatic feeder that can accommodate wet food, we suggest this one from Cat Mate. It holds ice packs to keep wet food cold and fresh.
Overall, it’s best to feed your Dachshund on a schedule, unless of course you have extraordinary circumstances that would make free feeding the best option.
It may take some time and patience for everyone in your home to adjust to the new schedule if your dog is used to free feeding, but don’t give up on it.
Dogs thrive on routine, and for your Dachshund’s mental and physical health, it’s worth it!
About the Author: Through her 17 years of owning and caring for Dachshunds, and almost 10 years researching and writing about them, JW has become a respected expert in the Dachshund community. Read more about her here.