I had many dogs in my life and none of them was overweight.
Never in my life had I used the measuring cup or a scale for weighing their food. Never in my life, I had a food-obsessed dog.
I don’t believe in imposing rules, not for myself, not for my pets.
I never eat just because it’s 2 pm and I’m supposed to eat. I’ve never given my dog food just because it was the feeding time and then, if he didn’t want it, removed it and waited till the evening (or even worst, the next day) to give him food again.
If I wanted to join the army and let my life be lived by rules, I would have done it. I didn’t. My pets neither, they are my babies, not my soldiers. And they act and look much better, happier and healthier then the soldier-dogs I see around me.
Why I never measure a dog's food?
I consider a dog is much more psychologically balanced and calmed down if he’s not obsessed with getting a meal at a certain time and being hungry for the rest of the day.
That way, dogs can rely on their’s instincts: they don’t eat if they feel sick (the normal reaction of our body is to fast, so it doesn’t lose energy on the digestion and can put all its efforts to the healing process.
It’s the automatic, instinctive and natural reaction of the body, the same one we, people, try to fight all the time.
“You’re sick, you have to eat! At least a bite! At least a soup! You have to!”
Hmmm, no you don’t. Listen to your body, let it do its job. When you start feeling better the first thing your body will tell you is: “give me some food.”
Hungry baby Gucci sucking on my finger. Or is he attacking me, showing the world he will be a dangerous dog?
Dogs are more instinctive creatures then we are (good for them!) they eat when they need food, not because they are bored looking TV. If it too hot, they stop eating and so should we! Or at least we should eat something really light (because God forbid we, humans, spend 24 hours fasting. For the religious reasons it’s OK, but don’t you dare tell anyone today you just don’t feel like eating. OMG, lol!
I’ve met one anorexic person in my life, but 99% of the people I know have 5-50 kilograms too much… and we’re still afraid of fasting more than we are of the overeating.)
The imposed eating rules
In Spain, you have breakfast at 9 am and you have lunch at 1.30 pm. If you still haven’t had your lunch, you salute with “Good morning” and after lunch, you say “Good afternoon”.
I heard more than once someone said at 2 pm “Good afternoon” and the other one responds “Well, it’s still “Good morning” for me, I still haven’t had the lunch.”
The same happens in the afternoon, they have dinner at 10 pm, so it’s normal to say “Good afternoon”, even if it’s 8 pm. It means everything turns around you and your eating habits, not around the actual time of the day.
If you haven’t been to the beach yet, even if it’s August, is it still not summer? If you haven’t had time to throw a birthday party, are you still one year younger then you really are? Does the Sun turn around the Earth, only because we are standing on it?
When my Spanish colleges see me eating at 11 am, they ask me totally confused:
“Now what is this? A breakfast or lunch?”
“It’s called a meal. I’m hungry and I’m eating, OK?”
For them, my logic is unacceptable. They’ll always think I’m the strongest person ever. It’s mutual.
Gucci on his boat, Lucifer.
They eat when they are hungry
I treat my dogs the same way I like to be treated. When I’m hungry, I eat.
They always have their food available. I leave the dry foot in the food dispenser. I never use the automatic ones, just the most simple ones, so the food is not drying out in the air and it comes out as he eats.
Every few days I just have a look to see if there’s still food inside or I have to refill it. That’s it.
Sometimes they eat at 2 am, sometimes at 2 pm and sometimes they don’t eat for 24 hours. They decide. They are totally happy and cool about that.
My English Pointer, Nono
Nono was disgustingly thin when I got him. He was two and I was his third owner.
They say a hunting dog should look like he’s starving or he wouldn’t hunt. Well, he wasn’t going to hunt in my living room, that was for sure!
When he first came, there were some kids eating puff pastries all around the house and I was shocked to see Nono was going after them like a hysterical vacuum cleaner, he didn’t miss a crumb. I hated to see how hungry he had been all his life.
The first week I wasn’t leaving it to him to decide how much he wanted to eat, he was too anxious and hungry to decide anything. His hunger was stronger than his instincts. I was giving him a full bowl of dry food three times a day.
The first three days he ate everything immediately, the fort day there was still some food left in the bowl when I put some more. I smiled, his instinct was starting to get stronger than his anxiety.
The second week I already left the food dispenser full of dry food.
Just 10 days after coming to my house Nono became a balanced dog who eat only when he was hungry, who wasn’t obsessed with food.
He gained weight, he stopped looking like a walking skeleton and got strong, but he never became fat and he stopped circulating around the table when we ate, like many food-obsessed dogs do.
My beloved English Pointer, my angel, my Nono in Croatia.
Max, the American Stanford
When I met A., he had a beautiful American Stanford. His head was as big as Gucci’s body.
A few times A. told me: “I have to go home to feed Max.”
I managed not to put my nose in his stuff fin the beginning but one day I explode, “Why doesn’t Max always have food?!”
He looked at me as if I were crazy, “Because everybody says dogs should eat once a day.”
“Forget about everybody, I don’t care about everybody, I care about the dog. So, when does he eat, when do you give him food?”
“In the morning.”
“Does he eat everything at once?”
“Sometimes! Sometimes he ignores it.”
“And what do you do then, do you take it away? So he has to wait for 24 more hours to eat? Do you think that’s human?”
“But he would eat the whole bag of food at once! He’s not like Gucci, he’s obsessed with food! He would weigh as much as an elephant in just 10 days!”
“Try it! Just for one week!”
He did. Max ate like a piggy for five days. On the sixth day, he didn’t even look at the food. On the seventh night, he started to eat again, like a normal, balanced dog.
From that day on, he ate whenever he wanted. Another dog who never got fat, even if he didn’t run and exercise as much as he should have.
A. concluded it was the best-damned thing I have ever taught him. Feeding the dog stopped being an obsession for both of them. Max stopped being hungry and needy all the time and he never waited next to the dinner table while we were eating.
Max, the American Stanford, huge and tender in Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain.
Whisky, a Boston Terrier little devil
Many years and many tears later, A. got a new dog. She’s a Boston terrier and according to the Internet, the book, the vet,… they tend to gain weight.
So, he asked me, “Do you still think we can do the eat-as-much-as-you-want-and-when-you-want thing? Will she become a little piggy? She is prone to it.”
“Leave the girl alone! Besides, Gucci has always food in the bowl, what will you do every time you come to my house? Hide Gucci’s food from her?”
The lady where we buy dog’s food knows we are buying one big sack for both Gucci and Whisky and she’s shocked how little they both eat. Well, they eat little, because they decide they need little.
People who are in the dog breeding industry say Whisky is “a perfect specimen of Boston terrier. ”
Which is kind of a good thing, although A. almost died when he heard that…
“What is that idiot saying?! She’s not a “specimen”, she’s my… daughter!” Lol
Whisky, the “perfect specimen"
Never ever give to a dog any food from the table
What I never do is give my dog any food from the table! It’s the only rule I have!
Not because I think it’s bad for them, but because there’s no way to give them food once without having them later always drolling around and looking at you while you eat.
That’s why we can take our dogs to restaurants, they lay down on our knees while we eat or they sit on the chair next to us, without even looking at our plates!
People always wonder how we manage that, but there’s no secret: it’s just being consistent in never giving them food from the table! They consider foot what’s in their’s bowls and that’s it.
A very drunk Gucci singing in the Italian restaurant El Labrador, the best dog-friendly restaurant in the world. Gran Canaria, Spain
Brauny, my first "only mine" dog had the intelligence of a Nobel Prize winner
When I was 14, I had Brauny, the most educated dog in the world. I noticed whenever my friend came by and we were having dinner, he was standing next to her. Hmmmm.
“Don’t give him any food from the table!”
But she did. Brauny told me, with every movement of his body, he was telling me she was lying! And then I saw her. Of course, the poor dog waited for some more.
“Tell him to go away!"
Whispering: Browny, go away, you already got some!”
“Look, I spent all my life teaching my dogs not to plead for food and in 5 minutes you’re destroying all my efforts. You can’t expect me to make him go away now, because you just diminished my reputation in his eyes. I could scream at him and yes, he would go away hating me, because I’m the party breaker while you’re the party maker. But it wouldn’t be fair to him, because he didn’t do anything wrong. You did.”
She shout up, but it happened a few more times. Some people are just too stupid to understand human words and way, way too stupid to understand a dog’s language.
So one day, in the middle of the ldinner, I saw her giving Brauny food under the table so I finally said,
“Please, leave my house. Now.”
She did and I never had a problem with my dog’s education again.
Know your battles. My dog’s education is mine. People’s education is not.
I wish all people would be as clever as their dogs
I used to have a fat Westie neighbor in Barcelona. Minimum four times a week his owner would ask me what Gucci ate. I told him the name of Gucci’s food.
“How much do you give him?”
“I don’t have a clue.”
“What do you mean by that, you don’t know?!” (4 times a week!!!!)
“I mean that Gucci eats as much as he wants.”
“Nooooooo, we could never give Tyson so much! He’s too fat already!”
He would stay quiet for a while and he would continue: “How many times a day do you feed him?”
“I don’t feed him, it’s always there, he takes some when he wants!”
“Nooooooo, our vet says…”
“I don’t care about what your vet says. Let him eat for one week and you’ll see…”
“No, no, no, he would eat everything…!”
“He would for the first 3 days, then he…”
“No, no, no, you don’t know him! He’s always hungry!”
“I can imagine he is! I would be also! Just of thinking I’m not allowed to eat till tomorrow makes me want to go to Mc Donald’s right now! What else do you give him?”
“ Nothing… Just some ham from time to time…Just once a day… Or two times if he doesn’t want to eat his food.”
“So he doesn’t want to eat it? I thought he’s always hungry?”
“Yes, but he wants ham! We have to give him some because he would die! He hadn’t eaten anything for the whole day, today! So we gave him some ham. But then he got cramps and we took him to the vet…”
“Could you please stop worrying about if he eats and just leave the dog to eat his own food when he wants?!”
“But it’s bad for him!”
“And what you’re doing is good for him?! He gets cramps once a month! He had to be operated once already! He’s hungry and fat! What can be worst than that!?”
He shut up for a month and then, one day, he started from zero :
“What does Gucci eat? He’s so nice and fit!”
“You know already what he eats…”
“Yes, but how do you make him eat? Tyson hasn’t eaten anything for the whole day! Did Gucci eat?!”
“Ahemhm… I don’t know, I don’t pay attention… He pooped, which means he ate. Yes, he ate.”
“But Tyson doesn’t want to! The whole day! I’m worried!"
“Leave him alone, he’ll eat tomorrow. Does he look sad? No. Does he look like he’s in pain? No. Does he play? Yes. Did he drink some water? Yes. Leave Tyson alone, he’s fine. He’ll eat tomorrow!”
Our conversations seemed like I’m from one planet and he’s from another. Pointless. I was so sorry for the poor dog.