How and When to Feed
Most breeders suggest that you feed your new boxer puppy at least four meals a day until he is about four to six months old. Then you can cut back to three meals a day, or two meals and a treat at lunch. Boxers are prone to a condition called bloat (described in Chapter 11), and it is therefore recommended that you feed yours at least twice a day. You should feed morning and evening, especially if you have a show dog or competition dog who may be working, at times, very intensely, or on the show grounds for long hours. Dogs can sometimes be low on energy due to low blood sugar is they are active and only eat once a day.
Control your boxer's dining situation to be certain that it's peaceful and without distractions.
Where to Feed
Hopefully, you've decided on a nice quiet spot in a dog friendly part of your house or apartment, or in the crate where your boxer can eat in a leisurely, uninterrupted fashion. This is particularly important in the first few days or weeks when your new puppy comes home.
If you have parts of your house gated off for the pup, and you have to be gone all day, you can leave food out (free feed) if you feed commercial dog food. This is harder if you feed raw or home-cooked food. If you have a picky eater, try to leave a quality kibble out just to help ensure that your pup gets enough nutrition, and feed him his raw or home-cooked meals when you can be home with him and can supervise.
Puppies are very easily distracted, and you don't want yours getting off his feeding schedule for lack of a quiet place to eat and digest his meals. The same is true, however, of some older dogs, so finding a quiet spot for canine dining for your boxer is a must.
You Control the Food
You need to let your boxer know, in no uncertain terms, that you control the food. Make him sit and wait quietly while you get his food ready. He must wait to begin eating until you give the okay, even after you have set the bowl down. You should also be able to take his food away without any protest. If you do need to do this, reward his good behavior. This is a good way to build your leadership and teach a good “Wait” command. By letting him know that food is available in a calm environment, and that he will always get it back even with interruptions for safety or other reasons, you let your boxer know that he can trust you totally and relax about food in general. If you get an older boxer who seems inclined to guard his food, you will need to work on this as a separate training issue.
The Picky Eater
This may seem to be a contradiction in terms when we apply it to dogs. We assume that dogs will eat anything they can get their paws on, but with some young puppies, that may not be true. Young puppies are sometimes stimulated to eat through competition with their littermates. Without that competition to encourage them, some pups don't eat much if they're not very hungry, or they might not understand that they should eat when food is available. If you have this type of puppy, simply to leave his food out for about ten minutes, then pick it up. The puppy will soon figure out that he'd better eat when dinner's on the table, so to speak.