Although it is better to feed your dog regular, monitored meals – especially finicky or overweight chow hounds – you may sometimes be called from home at doggie mealtimes. No worries – you can make your pup an automatic food dispenser and he can dine happily despite your absence.
Clean and dry a 5-gallon bucket and lid.
Cut two, 2-by-4 inch board scraps to 24-inches long and two others to 12 inches long.
Fasten the short boards -- narrow edge up -- between the long boards at the ends using three, 3-inch wood screws at each joint. This forms a rectangle 15-by-24 inches by 3 1/2 inches high as measured from the outside.
Screw the plywood piece over the top of the wooden framework with 1-inch wood screws at each corner and at 3-inch intervals along the sides, to hold pieces together.
Drill a 1 1/2-inch diameter “food dispenser hole” 1 inch above the lower edge of the bucket on one side using a hole saw blade.
Attach the bucket to one end of the wooden box – plywood facing up -- with six,1-inch wood screws -- spaced around the inside perimeter through the bottom of the bucket. Note: Aim the hole toward the opposite end of the plywood, centering it from both sides.
Draw an 11-inch circle on scrap Masonite or acrylic, and cut it out carefully using a jigsaw. Sand the perimeter to smooth it and wipe off dust.
Wedge the circle inside the bucket diagonally so that the bottom of the circle sits at the bottom of the dispenser hole and the upper edge rises at least 4 inches higher on the opposite side. The slant allows dry kibble to gravity-flow toward the dispensing hole.
Measure the outside diameter of the dog bowl – excluding the rim -- and draw a circle that size on the plywood in center-front of the bucket, leaving a space the exact width of the rim between the circle and bucket so the bowl will fit between them when correctly seated.
Cut out the plywood inside the circle. Test fit the bowl and trim the hole as needed until the bowl fits securely -- hanging from its rim -- directly against, and at the lower edge of, the dispensing hole in the bucket.
Form a short spout -- to help kibble flow across the rim of the bowl without spilling out to the sides – by cutting a short section of thin-walled PVC pipe in half longitudinally, and friction fitting the resulting mini-trough into the dispensing hole at a slight downward angle. Sand the cut edges, and use PVC glue to hold in place, if needed. Wipe off the excess and let the glue dry completely before using.
Fill the bucket with kibble and secure the lid. The kibble will flow down the interior circle of Masonite or acrylic, out through the dispensing hole and across the short trough into your dog's bowl.
- This design gravity feeds food continually to keep the bowl full, so should contain only enough food for the time you will be away, or be used with dogs who do not overeat on a “free-choice” diet. The American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends twice daily feeding and portion control for chow hounds.