My dogs have always been fed at specific times 2x a day. But now that I have a very young puppy who needs to eat 3 to 4x daily I do leave a little food in her crate so that she can eat while I am at work. Once she is older I will transition her to twice a day feedings.
Happiness is looking at your dogs face...and forgetting all your problems
I feed my becky outside the create but both mj and austin eat in there creates but I don't leave food dishes in create both eat quite well and quite quickly