Many clients I see feed a pure kibble (dry biscuit) based diet …
Can you imagine how you would feel eating the same type of food, over and over, day after day …?
In my opinion feeding solely a biscuit/kibble based diet is a form of sensory deprivation. A dog’s food and the method in which it is dispensed should stimulate the senses and enrich the dog’s life!
So when it comes to food what are some of the options? I recommend that the dog is fed a variety of foods to maintain interest:
- Dry food (biscuits) – As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. If feeding dry invest in a good quality biscuit. The cheaper varieties can contain a large amount of ‘fillers’ that quite simply mean more poo and generally quite smelly wind too! The rule of thumb is the better quality the food, the more of it is absorbed by the body meaning less comes out as waste product. Win, win!
- Ziwipeak – This is an air-dried dog food made up of 98% fresh meat, organs, bone and seafood. Most dogs find this highly palatable and its size and the fact that is it dry makes it very easy to use as training rewards.
- Raw feeding – This means that everything is fed to the dog in its natural state; not processed and not cooked. When choosing this diet it is important that it is BALANCED for your individual dog and getting the balance right can be tricky initially; to help there are 2 wonderful books that are an essential read: ‘Natural Prescription Diets for Dogs and Cats’ and ‘Real Food for Dogs & Cats’ both by Dr Clare Middle. Dr Clare Middle also consults and can discuss your dog’s individual needs and design a feeding plan to suit. Raw feeding can actually be quite simple and easy to do!
- Dog roll – The same principle of you get what you pay for applies to this product too! Stick to good quality brands such as Prime 100 or Tucker Time.
- Pre-packaged meatballs – These are easy to feed and are very easy to use as training rewards. ‘4 Legs’ or ‘Chunkers’ can be found in the pet fridge of most supermarkets.
- Training: Remember the higher the distraction the higher the reward value should be.
When using food rewards for training I do not use treats … instead, I use what constitutes the dogs’ daily diet! To feed a dog out of a food bowl is pretty much like allowing them to be unemployed! I work for my currency, so why shouldn’t my dogs?
When using your dog’s food for training:
- Carry the dry food in your back pocket or have easy to access containers around the home. It’s important that you are able to reward the desired behaviour immediately to reinforce it.
- If feeding raw use individual components: dry some fish or other meat product in the oven or dehydrator or simply feed them in their natural form if you’re happy to do so. My dogs LOVE dices pumpkin, carrot and blueberries.
- Cut up the polony roll into reward sizes, or use the pre-prepared meatballs as higher value rewards when you are out and about.
- Enrichment: Offer your dog’s food using a variety of enrichment ideas that work your individual dog’s skills; chewing, foraging, digging … Following are some basic ideas: https://youtu.be/q5nj0wXy-3c
*Note – If your dog has any medical problems in relation to food please consult your vet prior to changing your dogs’ diet or introducing new foods.