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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I got a dog a few days ago, and so far we're getting along great. The one thing I would like to change, though, is her feeding schedule. Her old owners had a normal 8-5 work schedule, so she's used to being fed at 5am and right as they get home at 5pm. That doesn't work so well with my schedule, since I work evenings, normally 12-9. She'll actually wake me up at 5am like a cat and won't leave me alone until I get up and feed her, even though that's usually three hours before I usually get up. And since my shift doesn't end until four hours after 5pm, the only way I can feed her on time is if I drive all the way home on my lunch break (which, coincidentally, is usually about 5pm).

Does anybody know a way to change my dog's feeding schedule? Ideally I'd like to feed her about 9am and 9pm, since that coincides better with my work schedule. Problem is, she makes that difficult by pestering me nonstop until I give in and feed her when she wants it. Anybody know a good trick to change her routine?
 

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Have you tried giving her a little "snack" when she wakes you up at 5 am? By "snack" I mean something like a bully stick or a small Kong to keep her busy until you're ready to wake up.

You could also try weaning her towards that time. So, she wakes you up at 5. You give her her "snack" and then at 5:30 you feed her. After a few days, you feed her at 6. Then 7. And so on.

I totally feel your pain...one of my dogs is hungry ALL THE TIME. Thankfully he doesn't wake me up to eat, but he sure makes it known if he's missed a meal!
 

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I just change the time if I need to, and I don't give into the begging and pestering. I do try to do it slowly, so if she is use to eating at 5am push it back to 5:15 for a few days, then 5:30 and so on until you are at the time you want.
 

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The easiest method is to ignore her. I know its hard but when she tries to wake you up tell her to go back to bed and turn away from her and ignore her. It should only take a few days for her to adjust especially if you are feeding her her dinner at 9 at night.
 

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Some dogs refuse to be ignored. I would try moving the feeding schedule in fifteen minute increments every few days, as suggested.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
My main concern is that she's going to turn three in August, and she's had this schedule her whole life, so it's not like I'm retraining a puppy. The other thing I've noticed is that when I feed her late, like at 9pm, she'll have to go to poop even before 5am and she'll pester me until I let her out. The first couple nights I ignored her, and woke up with poop in the hallway. Last night I finally got the picture, but ended up taking her on THREE WALKS in the middle of the night. Like, at 2am, 3am, and 4am. Turned out she only needed to poop for one of those, but I've seen her go poop more than once on a walk before, so how am I supposed to know whether she really needs to go out or if I can ignore her? This is starting to seriously interfere with my sleep schedule and it's frustrating.
 

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I have a novel idea but probably not the type of answer you were looking for.

Brand new dog you have had for just a few days but she's a three year old with a previous routine. She's about to develop an entirely new "routine" because you are in charge of her now. I might feed at least half of her daily kibble ( assuming you feed this ) throughout the time you are with her in the form of rewards or just for " we're getting along great.", maybe for a month or so. The other half could be whenever you find fitting. It's your call.
 

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I would be inclined to just switch her cold turkey, though still keeping to 2 feedings per day, or dispensing her food throughout the day like Drivedog suggested. If you give her something when she wakes you up, you're reinforcing that behavior, so I would avoid feeding her then unless you want to do it long term. If she won't leave you alone, either shut her out at night, or crate her if she's destructive or eliminating inappropriately. She should get used to the new schedule in a couple weeks or so (both mentally and physically), and then you can give her more freedom again. You could inch the feeding times up bit by bit, instead, but either way I would avoid feeding her at the "old" time.
 

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Whether you gradually or more abruptly change the morning feeding time, I would strongly encourage you NOT to give in and provide food or a treat when Mitzi starts acting up at 5:00 a.m. I also would not set her food down while she's jumping and prancing around. Encourage her to sit and wait.

Also, I would not wait until 9 p.m. for her evening meal. It's too late. Right now, my dog is walked and fed at 9 a.m. and again at 5 p.m. Then I let him out in the backyard at 9 p.m. for a bathroom break. He usually poops once on the 9 a.m. walk and twice during the 5 p.m. walk. If you don't want to have to deal with nighttime bathroom breaks, you need to have her eat earlier.

If you can't make it home from work during your 5 p.m. break, then you might want to try the food dispenser, and then give her a walk at 9. That will at least give her body four hours to digest her food and she'll probably be more restful during the nighttime.
 
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