About ad libitum feeding

How you can effectively protect your dog from being poisoned

Kuhfütterung Giftköder vermeiden Anti-Giftköder

It is common to almost all dog owners: the fear that their own dog will ingest a poisoned treat in an unobserved moment and die miserably. When it comes to the type of poison bait, the perpetrators are extremely creative: they prepare delicious pieces of sausage or small meatballs with needles, nails or razor blades, while other a****es incorporate various toxins or narcotics into the “treats”. They prefer to hide the bait themselves in parks and forests, but also in the bushes on the street corners in the middle of the city, or they simply throw them in the middle of the grass verge next to the sidewalk. 


There are, of course, ways to stop your dog from picking up food from the street, for example through so-called "anti-poison bait training" or through bartering in which the dogs give up found objects or change them for a treat.


In my opinion, all of these measures are very unreliable or sometimes promote behavior that was not intended: When Kuno was a youngster who ate everything off the ground, I once tried to exchange found food with him. In the end, he brought me all the garbage he found on in order to get a treat in return. Great idea on his part, but a total miss on my part! 


There's no need to fool yourself: with their much better noses, their good eyesight and their proximity to the ground, dogs have a clear advantage over us humans. Before you even notice anything, the poisoned treat has long since been swallowed. If you even notice...


Can't you do anything about it? Yes, you can!

The ultimate tip against poison: the ad libitum feeding

The best universal protection against ingesting poisoned treats is so-called “ad libitum feeding”.* It is an effective protection against poison because the dogs this way do no longer eat from the ground outside. It is also suitable for dogs of all ages - and even for greedy neutered dogs. Only dog breeds that only stop their gluttony in the face of death are exempt from this. For example, Labradors suffer from a genetic defect that prevents them from feeling full after meals. Of course, ad libitum feeding is of no use for these and similar breeds (Beagle, Golden Retriever, etc.). Unless you plan to serve them cooked in a rice crust. 😉

The benefits of ad libitum feeding

  • Protects against the ingestion of poisoned food, as you no longer look for eatable things while walking
  • prevents gastric torsion
  • supports instinctual behavior in eating
  • the dog no longer accepts food from strangers (incorruptibility!)
  • inhibits food envy
  • prevents gluttony
  • regulates overweight
  • reduces the hunting instinct

What exactly does ad libitum feeding mean?

In principle, ad libitum feeding means nothing more than leaving full food bowls around all day long, which the dog has access to at any time. So he can eat as much as he wants and whenever he wants. For most dogs, this diet ultimately leads to them eating many small meals and becoming more instinctive about the amount of food they eat. This type of diet also significantly reduces the risk of gastric torsion in large breeds, because of course many small meals are much more protective on the stomach than just one single, large meal. 


In contrast to the conventional diet: there are one to a maximum of two meals per day, minus the treats necessary for training, sometimes garnished with search games such as hiding cheese or sausages in trees. This basically means that the dog can never really eat enough. If you let your dog go hungry all the time in this way and also specifically teach him to look for food outside, then you shouldn't be surprised if he does this as a well-behaved dog.


Ad libitum feeding, on the other hand, offers many advantages: Due to the permanent access to food, greedy dogs in particular stop eating everything, because a full dog has no reason to search for eatable things 24/7.

Food envy? What's that? 😂 Kuno and Birk not only lie relaxed while eating, but also share in a brotherly manner without any arguments.

My dogs wouldn't even think of eating anything they find while walking. Kuno has now even made it a habit to urinate on food lying around that looks delicious (even meat). Kuno and Birk also no longer accept any food from other people than me when I'm away, which is a prerequisite for the Spitz's supposed incorruptibility. I owe all of this to ad libitum feeding. And - it's hard to believe - it can do so much more: food envy and snaring, do no longer exist. On the contrary: the dogs even lie down while eating and munch their food with pleasure and in peace. 

How to start ad libitum feeding?

It's really easy: to start, you take at least twice as large bowls as you have and fill them up with dry food of your choice. More bowls than dogs because the dog should also visually perceive that there is an excess supply of food. It is quite likely that the dog is now thinking about eating everything completely empty. He shall! If the bowl empties, it must be refilled immediately. I would delight particularly stubborn eaters with five bowls filled to the brim, because the background of it is that the dog actually understands (visibly) that the food will never run out under any circumstances - no matter how much he eats. Kuno, with whom I started ad libitum feeding when he was about a year old - and who, as is typical for a Wolfsspitz, is quite greedy - understood it quick as hell. After just one day, he knew. 


Of course, there are also dogs for whom the process of understanding cow feeding takes a little longer - and who initially overeat and may even vomit. And with a dog starting out with ad libitum feeding, you will certainly have to go out the door a lot more often than usual in the beginning, because what goes in at the front has to go out at the back. It is important not to give up if the dog vomits, let the whole thing continue. Most dogs - except for very, very stubborn eating machines - will sooner or later understand and happily accept ad libitum feeding. 

What is being fed?

Poison dog diet feeding
Of course they still love burgers, they just won't eat them outside anymore.

Fresh food is of course not suitable for ad libitum feeding. I take various types of dry food - from inexpensive to expensive - and mix it into ever new compositions. This ensures that the dogs normally eat and tolerate everything. For example, it's not a problem if I have to use local food while on vacation because there's nothing else available.


Of course, the dogs don't just get dry food - it just forms the basis here. In the morning there is always fresh food for the dogs with filling side dishes and vegetables. So sometimes raw tripe, sometimes chicken and carrots with potatoes or pasta, canned food, cooked fish with rice, etc. There are really no limits to your own imagination. There are also fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, quark, milk and eggs. And sometimes there is of course a treat or a little something from the table. This is not mutually exclusive.


The topic of nutrition is discussed in more detail in my article “The dog's diet”.


Doesn't the dog get fat?

No, he won't - unless he's one of those breeds that eat anything that is eatable (Labrador, Beagle, etc.). All other dogs, on the other hand, become instinctively confident again when it comes to their food intake; they no longer overeat. In winter, it can happen that they gain a few grams to protect themselves from the cold, but we humans usually do that too. 😉 Dogs who are just getting to know cow feeding can of course gain a little more weight at the beginning. But that comes back very quickly!

The dog eats and eats and eats...

Eyes shut and go for it! I would let this go on for at least a week. If the dog still doesn't stop his gluttony, it could be that he is one of the candidates for whom cow feeding is actually not the best idea. 

Ad libitum feeding with diarrhea?

If there is real diarrhea, the dog should always (!) fast for at least 24 hours. Of course also the ad libitum fed dog. I then just put the bowls away and put both dogs on a diet, not just the injured one. A few days of fasting will not harm a healthy dog and will prevent obesity

Ad libitum feeding: The ideal diet for the German Spitz

A thief who had escaped impending prison thanks to his lawyer's subtle defense wanted to show his gratitude: "Give me some advice, " said the lawyer, "I have a lonely house. How can I best protect myself from thieves?" The thief: "You have to keep the right dog. There's only one that we can't bribe with treats. Keep a Spitz!"

ad libitum dog feeding diet poison

And it is precisely this legendary incorruptibility of the German Spitz that can be supported with the appropriate feeding technology. Ad libitum feeding makes a significant contribution to maintaining and, if necessary, increasing the low level of food fixation that is so characteristic of the German Spitz. Since it is logically essential for a reliable guard dog not to accept food from strangers under no circumstances, ad libitum feeding is ideal for our German Spitz. I can tell you from my own dogs how incorruptible the dogs become as a result: in my absence, they don't even accept food from my boyfriend.  Kuno spits the food he gave him right at his feet. 


Ad libitum feeding also has a beneficial effect on the non-existent hunting drive required by the breed standard: a proper Spitz has no reason to waste his time on unnecessary and strenuous poaching!


Even if you share a hobby with your Spitz, you should make sure not to artificially train him to accept food, but rather to maintain his lack of food fixation. You can teach a Spitz obedience, trick training or, in my opinion, agility without any biscuits. The praise of his owner and his joyful, friendly voice are worth much more to him than a boring treat. 

* All information is to the best of our knowledge and belief, but without any guarantee or guarantee.


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