Teach my dog to remind me to feed her

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sourced from: https://www.reddit.com/r/Dogtraining/comments/f8m8j1/teach_my_dog_to_remind_me_to_feed_her/

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Lab owners here are probably laughing up a storm… but I have a problem. My standard poodle does not remind me or seem to care if I feed her or not, so I forget and feel like a terrible human.

She has GREAT communication skills if I try to skip a walk, she wants to play, or she wants me to rescue her toy. Her teeth and her health are fine, and she's maybe 1 or 2 lbs underweight.

She is free fed because she doesn't bother eating when I've tried non-free feeding. I don't like to leave more than 1 days worth of food out, as I like to frequently clean the dish. I don't police food amounts too closely – some days she eats 1 cup, some days she eats 3, and I'm fine with that so long as she has have the option. I basically refill when I notice her bowl is empty, but do keep track of how many cups I feed/day.

If I forget to feed her, the bowl can be empty for half a day plus, and she'll never remind me. Today it was empty from noonish until 11 pm, and she didn't seem to notice (walked past it without even a glance), then chowed down when I put food down (so she was hungry). She emptied the bowl, since I didn't put much down, but didn't ask for more. I know if I put more down, she'll eat it though.

I tried feeding her 'special' food for months at a set time (a small amount of canned food or chicken) – if I forgot, she wouldn't remind me. I've tried using toppings, and although she likes them, she's still kinda meh and rarely finishes it in one serving. I don't like leaving wet food down in case it grows bacteria, so I don't feed toppings often.

I tried teaching her to paw the bowl in exchange for good kibble/extras. She will do it on command, but after a week of practice every time I put food down, she still won't spontaneously tell me she's hungry.

She's in the past lost 5 lbs in a short period of time from not bothering to eat, and she has that typical lean no extra fat poodle build, so I really do worry about her losing weight but also don't want to fall into the "my dog doesn't eat kibble" trap.

Any suggestions?

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