Where and When to Feed
Once you've decided what to feed, you still need to determine where your dog will eat her meals and exactly how you're going to portion the food out to the dog. This decision depends upon several factors in your home, as well as the personality of the dog.
Where to Feed Your Dog
Dogs are creatures of habit, and they appreciate a set place where their food is provided. Many owners choose the kitchen for its ease in cleaning up any spills. As long as the dog can stand comfortably on the floor, without slipping, this room is a good choice. Similarly convenient areas include laundry rooms and pantries, which generally have tiled floors and easy access to water for easy cleanup.
Wherever you decide to feed your dog, she will be happier if you are within view. Dogs are communal eaters. They like to be there while you eat and like you to be there while they eat as well. You may want to keep the food and bowls somewhat hidden away, but the dog will probably be reluctant to eat in a dark closet at another end of the house. Keep the eating area close to the main living space, and be sure there is plenty of light in the room where your dog eats.
Also known as ad libitum or self-feeding, this feeding method requires the least amount of owner participation. Its popularity has decreased, however, as dogs have become more integral members of the family. The method limits the choice of food to dry. With food left out and available to the dog at all times, anything but dry would quickly spoil. Even dry should be thrown out if not consumed in a day or two, at most.
With free choice, the dog makes the decision of how much to eat. Some dogs will adjust their daily intake to match their energy requirements, but some will consistently overeat and quickly become fat. If you decide on a free-choice program, you must vigilantly monitor the dog's condition. For dogs that do limit their intake, being able to eat many small meals may both help keep them occupied and keep their metabolism ticking over at a higher rate.
A potential drawback of the free-choice method, aside from dogs that overeat, is that you won't be able to observe the dog's eating habits. Refusal of food is often the first indication that a dog is ill, and with free feeding some time may be lost before the owner realizes the dog isn't eating.
A variation on free feeding, this plan involves putting down a large amount of food at set times each day. The dog is allowed to eat for some predetermined amount of time — fifteen minutes is a common choice — and then the food is removed.
While you can see how much your dog is eating with this method, it still allows the dog to overeat. Plus, it encourages dogs to gulp their food, knowing that it will be taken away. It's equally unsuitable for those dogs that nibble their food and take a long time over their meals.
With this feeding method, the owner determines the maximum amount the dog can (and should) eat and gives this amount to the dog at specified times during the day. The tricky thing about this option is that the owner must know how much the ideal amount of food for the dog is.
You can easily use your bathroom scale to weigh your Yorkie. First weigh yourself. Then pick up your dog and weigh yourself again. The difference between the two numbers is your dog's weight. Otherwise, go and use the scale in your veterinarian's office — this gives you a chance to have a nonthreatening visit.
Remember that the feeding guidelines on the package are only guidelines and are on the high side of average to account for the widest possible variation. You can use them as a starting point, but you will probably need to make adjustments. If you combine foods — dry and canned, for example — you need to consider total calories from both foods.
To determine the correct amount of food for your dog, choose a portion of food to start with. Feed it for a week and assess. Weigh your dog to determine if he's gaining or losing weight. Adjust food accordingly.
When to Feed Your Dog
Presuming that you aren't choosing to feed free choice, you need to decide on mealtimes for your dog. Note that the word is plural: mealtimes. Even though Yorkies are small, they still need more than one meal each day. In fact, an adult Yorkshire terrier should have at least two meals a day and might prefer three. A puppy should have four or five.
If someone is home during the day, this shouldn't be a problem. You can give your dog breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Keep in mind that while you may vary your own mealtimes, dogs appreciate routine, and will like their meals at the same time each day, if possible. Your dog will likely let you know in no uncertain terms when it's time to eat!
If no one is home during the day, you have two choices. You can feed the dog breakfast and dinner and hire someone to come in and give the dog a walk and some lunch. Or you can feed the dog breakfast, feed the dog as soon as you get home, and feed the dog a snack before bedtime.