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Feeding & Treats

How much should I feed my puppy?


    A good way to start is by following the guidelines on the food packaging as recommended by the manufacturer, from there, get your hands on your pup and give them a good once over. Can you feel their ribs? Just a little or not at all? As with everything canine, we are looking for balance. We don’t want too plump, that’s hard on growing joints and ligaments. We don’t want too thin, that’s hard on sufficient nutrient intake for overall growth and development. So balance. You should always adhere to your veterinarian’s advice, in between visits, a good common sense approach is the way to go.


What we do with our dogs.


    Puppies- Free food in the first weeks. As always, mama knows best, and mama dog knows exactly what and when her pups are hungry. So mama gets all the food she wants, no limits, no measuring. She’s nursing and it’s available to her 24/7, including when she’s expecting. As the pups wean from her and begin to express interest in her food, they too have it available 24/7. When we begin some small training sessions with the pups, we offer high value treats like canned food, cheese and yup, sometimes hotdogs. Not too much but in the beginning we actually have to teach the pups to take the treats so we want there to be motivation and understanding. Hot dogs seem to always be a winner so we do what works. The pieces are teeny tiny so not to worry, they aren’t being raised on wieners. 


    Around the time the pups have caught on to solid food and mama is ready to start spending much more time away from her children, we switch over to 3 meals a day. Morning, noon and night. We want to make sure the pups are content and have full bellies. Mama is supplementing nursing but those feedings become less and less and she weans them. Most often she will do this on her own but we have had a mama or two that would have nursed a passing pigeon had the pigeon been hungry so sometimes we have to offer extra support and an extra feeding for the pups so they don’t want mama as much for the sake of meals. 

    During this stage we also start some food games, and we continue right on with this for a LONG time. We do some search and find games where the pups need to learn to use their noses. We do barrier challenges where there pups have to navigate something to get to their food, and we do puzzle feeders/snuffle mats/challenges. 

    By the time the pups reach 8-12 weeks, we are usually on 2 meals a day, morning and night with intervals through the day where they receive food rewards for working.This does not have to be treats! Kibble is also a treat in the eyes of the pups. It does not matter how your pup gets their meals, as long as they get them. If you want to make them work for it- its a win-win for you and them. 

    From 12 weeks on, we are in training mode. Our dogs have to do at least something for their food. We rarely just set down the kibble and walk away. At minimum, sit and wait. Bouncing, jumping, circles, grabbing, gorging, and sneaking doesn’t get rewarded here. It doesn’t mean we don’t see those behaviours from time to time but we don’t reward them. Dogs are still going to be dogs and we don’t want to take that away from them, but they won’t get “paid” for it here. Food is payment. Always. Think pack mentality. Food is the goal everyday in the life of a wolf. Have to eat. Food is the reward at the end of the chase. It’s the essence of their survival. Our dogs don’t have to survive around here, and we don’t want them to but we still need to meet their needs and free food is the gateway drug to much bigger problems. So we work. Sometimes a lot and sometimes a little. Every day is a little different as every day our schedule varies somewhat. On days where there is ample time we make the most of it. If we are pressed for time, we still make the most of that. 

    By 16 weeks our pups no long eat with a buddy, if they still are, depending on the situation here. Meals become completely individual. We don’t want anyone feeling the need to compete to eat. That leads to fights and that’s a hard no around here. Competition for food isn’t necessary in a domestic setting and there is not one good thing that comes from it. So, our dogs eat in peace, alone. After their meals they can then romp and play and potty in the dog yard, all together on their happy little full bellies. If their needs have been met, their bellies have been fed, there usually are no discrepancies among them. 


    Bones. 100% dogs should have real bones, better yet, not weigh bearing bones like ribs. NEVER cooked and here at our house, the rule of thumb is NEVER with a friend, EVER. Bones are excellent for teeth and pacifying boredom. It’s how you give them that counts though. Freely- never. Treats are earned or used for a purpose. Some examples of how we use bones. Spay/neuter recovery requires quiet time, bones. Girls in heat and our boys need to spend time apart, alternating their outdoor playtimes, bones. Crate training- bones. Busy day where we actually have to be away from home and the dogs are in their pods- bones. 


    Treats are training tools and should be used as such. We LOVE our dogs. They provide to many of us all that this world takes from us. The unconditional love and comfort is unlike any other. So we give and give and give because it’s our hearts way of showing our affection. We’d like to encourage you to spoil your dog, but in a much healthier way. Spoiling them isn’t by buying them a million treats, toys, beds, etc (and we’re guilty of this too), spoiling them is meeting their needs. Fulfilling their innate, born and bred in desires. That’s true spoiling. Your dog LOVES you. You don’t have to beg them to love you, that comes pre-installed and that’s one of the reasons we all love dogs. Love them back by letting them work. All dogs, regardless of breed, need mental stimulation and food it one of the easiest ways we can do this for them.


Enrichment tips:


Ways to feed meals to help your dogs mind stay busy;


  • working for breakfast by doing some obedience commands, or even sitting in a “place” and waiting while you prepare the meal

  • Spreading a portion of the kibble on a towel or blanket, roll it up the long way and tie in a loose knot. Let him work to get the kibbles. Don’t use your good towels/blankets!

  • Snuffle mats/lick mats 

  • Put kibble in an empty water bottle with no cover, let him work to get it out. Noisy but fun.

  • Puzzle toys and slow feeder bowls. We recommend ones that are easy to clean because if it’s a struggle to clean it every time, your motivation to use it probably isn’t going to be there and dirty puzzle toys are gross.

  • West Paws and Kong type toys. Wet your kibble and make it a bit soft and then freeze it inside them. You can also add other things like yogurt and peanut butter that’s free from xylitol. Bonus tip- add a piece of cheese or hot dog among it.

  • Hide and seek. This can be done in a couple ways- you can literally hid and have your dog come find you and you treat them when they do or you can hide kibble and they can sniff it out. 

  • Scent circle training but with kibble. Similar to hide and seek but you can eventually turn this into scent training which is really a fun thing to enjoy with your dog.


There are so many creative ways to feed your dog, they are still getting fed but the working for it will change their lives. You will notice a much more content dog and content dogs are much less likely to find themselves being destructive.


We are not veterinarians or dog trainers. If you are having concerns about your dog it is best to speak to a professional. These are some things that we do, that help us. Everyone does it a little differently and thats ok. It is NEVER ok to withhold food or water from your pet as punishment. It is essential to always provide nutritious food, in an appropriate amount with constant access to clean water.

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