"Dogs feel very strongly that they should always go with you in the car, in case the need should arise for them to bark violently at nothing right in your ear" - Dave Barry
Feeding Methods for your Dog
When and How?
Dogs really are creatures of habit, and a regular feeding schedule can make your life easier as well.
Scheduled Feedings/Portion Control
Dogs can be fed on a fixed schedule -- and, indeed, most dogs require it -- of several meals per day, each of a determined size. Usually they are fed twice each day, in the morning and evening. Puppies need to be fed smaller meals throughout the day, and some larger breeds benefit from smaller meals more often to lessen the chances of bloat. The schedule itself is not really that important -- what is important is the regularity of the feedings.
This is the easiest method to use to control your dog's weight if they are getting too chubby. Some dogs need two meals, some three - and even then, they will mope pathetically when the bowl is empty, but you can determine how much they need and not risk them overeating. This is particularly useful for dogs that will eat everything in sight and look for more. Plus. if a dog goes off it's food, it is immediately apparent.
Often if you feed more than one dog, this can be a chore to manage at a single time. Kennel feeding can be an ordeal if everyone expects to eat at 3:30pm and it takes half an hour to make the rounds. I have friends who can set their clocks by the dogs stomach -- she is sitting next to the food bowl at 6:15 every night, never fail.
Occasionally, dogs fed together will develop the habit of bolting their food and then trying for anyone else's. Feeding on a fixed schedule can provide some reassurance to the dog that food will be there and they don't need to eat everything in sight. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
Just like it sounds - set out dog food and keep the bowl filled. This lets the dog eat whenever they want to, in whatever volume. It has the advantage of being easy for you, and can sometimes eliminate the weird food-possessiveness that some dogs exhibit. Our dogs, for example, tend to eat in the middle of the night and nibble all day. It works for us. However...
This won't work with gluttons, though. Some dogs will eat five pounds of dog food if it's set out - and then they usually walk out into the living room and give it all back. Yeech. This method also doesn't work with canned or wet food, as it can spoil if it sits out too long, and is definitely unappetizing.
You also don't have as good a grasp on the eating habits of your dog. If they stop eating, it can be a while before you really notice that the food is not disappearing. If you feed more than one dog, it can also mask the fact that one is eating more than their share and the other is not eating anything, so you really have to watch your dogs. Also, it wreaks havoc with house training, as there is no "regular" time to go outside and the dog might be eating at all hours and wanting to go to the bathroom at all hours. It may take a while for dogs to adapt to this method.
If your dogs can't eat together and are food possessive, this can also lead to arguments between them. It is also hard to enforce your status as pack leader without being able to control their eating patterns. If food is available at all times, you cease to be the "provider", and there is not a set time or schedule for feeding.
This is by far the least labor intensive means of feeding dogs, however, and if you are feeding any great number, it can simplify your life quite a bit.