Feeding Your Dog

Feeding Your Dog – There is Power in Food!

HungryDog-PawsitiveStepsDogTrainingMost dog owners don’t realize there is power in feeding your dog…

Dogs must think we are incredible hunters. We drive away and in half an hour we return with a feast!

Feeding your dog a high quality food is important,  and for many dogs, having a routine is also important.

At Pawsitive Steps we have found that for some dogs it is best to be fed after feeding yourself and your children. If he becomes obnoxious while you’re eating, simply tying him out of reach, but in sight of your dining room table and ignore him. Tantrums will extinguish if you do not pay him any attention, don’t even look at him!

Dogs are natural scavengers…

That’s just who they are…by simply setting a bowl of food on the floor gives away all the power and purpose that food symbolizes, plus the dog loses all the fun and excitement of earning and hunting for it, something they would spend all day doing if they lived in the wild. Free feeding or always having food available makes food boring and gives some dogs a sense of higher importance. Additionally, it is harder to house train a dog that is eating whenever he feels like it, it makes predicting his needs to go potty become impossible.

Have your dog earn his food.

Instead of just placing the food onto the floor, creatively feed your dog, having him work for it using the suggestions below:

EarnFood-PawsitiveStepsDogTrainingDo not leave food out all the time! Please remove the dog’s dish from the floor when 20 or 30 minutes have elapsed since you fed your dog.  It isn’t natural for people or dogs to graze all day long – whether you’re trying to house train a puppy or you have an adult dog, please do not leave food out all the time! Having food always available takes away the excitement of suppertime. It creates dogs who “aren’t food motivated”. The food has no value because it is always there.

Stuffed Kongs: Using this kibble to stuff 1 or 2 Kongs adding a few cookies + 1 TBLS Peanut Butter peanut.(peanut butter without the toxic artificial sweeter called xylitol in it)  Kongs can be given when you leave or need quiet time or just to let them hunt and scavenge their food.  Whenever possible, hide the Kongs and play scavenger games, Hide & Seek! Or “FIND!” to earn the Kongs. As your dog gets better, increase the difficulty in your hiding them.

Hunting!  Think Easter Egg Hunt, but with treats, indoors and out!

Have dog do SIT and DOWN Stays while you create little food piles for him to eat upon release from STAY. You can hide these and turn it into a search mission!

My dog, Dancer enjoys our year-round Easter Egg hunt game! He Stays (Sit or Down) while I hide a stuffed Kong, or little piles of food and treats. Then I say, “All Done! Go FIND!” The better your dog gets at this, the harder you can make the challenge by doing different rooms, stairs and places.

Training Treat Balls and Buster Cubes are great interactive food toys, making your dog scavenge for food instead of eating from a boring bowl. There are so many new puzzle toys and games available that exercise your dog’s mind while they eat!

Use kibble intermixed with treats for training!  Hint: putting kibble in a baggie with cheese, meat, and smelly treats in the fridge will make that kibble absorb the smells and be more enticing when used as a reward.

Food Dish Exercise:

FoodDishExercise-PawsitiveStepsDogTrainingHold your dog’s dish with some food in it until your dog sits. You won’t have to tell them to SIT, most dogs will do so by default. This is a great example of how dogs can learn how to behave without being told. Begin to lower the dish, if the dog stands up, raise the bowl. You’ll probably go up and down several times. When the dish hits the floor, call out “ALL DONE! TAKE it!” and otherwise encourage your dog to eat. While they’re eating, drop more kibble or food into the dish. Pet near the rear of the dog while you add food to the bowl.

It is important to be safe and err on the side of caution while doing this. Some dogs have learned that people are a threat – and are there to TAKE the food away rather than GIVE it – and do not like humans nearby while they eat.  Please contact us immediately if you see any signs that your dog is uncomfortable or is warning you away.

When feeding from a dish, stay in the room and bug your dog (with treats of course!!)  (Especially with puppies and newly adopted dogs.) Having you around is important to your dog’s development.  Puppies and dogs need to know that someone approaching their bowl is a good thing.  You can slowly approach from the side and toss an extremely great treat, such as a chunk of boiled chicken, piece of cheese, or Turkey Treats toward the dog’s dish. Sometimes feed with you holding or touching the dish.  Pet your dog while he is eating and talk to him about your day, tell him how good he is.

Children should also toss treats into the dish while the dog eats, but have them stand back several feet until you are certain the dog is not going to guard their bowl

Note: If your dog stiffens, growls, or shows any sign of concern, warning etc., (whale eye, ears flatten, lip curl, freezes, stiffens, hackles up, etc., this is not a comprehensive list) please contact our office immediately.  Supervise children when doing ALL exercises, but encourage child interaction with safety; consult with a professional on safe ways to preventing resource guarding if you have any concerns.

A Note About Good Food

HealthyDogFood-PawsitiveStepsDogTrainingWhat to feed your dog is a personal decision and the choices are numerous; there are a lot of good foods on the market today including canned, dry and raw foods.  There are advantages and disadvantages to all and the needs of each dog vary.  If you do not need to feed a veterinary/prescription diet, here are some tips for making an educated decision.  Your local family owned pet stores are a great source for education and information about the best food for your animals.

Can you identify what the protein, carbohydrate and fat sources are or are they generalized? A label that says Chicken Meal, Chicken or Chicken Fat is better than Poultry or Poultry Fat.  What are the first 5 or six ingredients?  The manufacturers must list the heaviest ingredients first. Does the percentage of the fat and protein seem proportionate? Are there fillers, chemical preservatives or added salts and sugars?

I’d like to thank Lake Forest Park Animal Hospital for sharing this article on the Grain Free Diet fad for your dog…it talks about the increased risk of heart disease with these diets.

Turkey Treats

All Time Most Favorite Treat! (Shared by Dorothy Turley of Let’s Talk Dogs!)

1 lb. ground turkey or meat of choice, drained of excess liquid

1 to 1 ¼ c       dried bread crumbs

2-3 TBLS      Parmesan cheese

½-1 TBLS         seasoning (Spike is our favorite!) Amount of breadcrumbs & time to cook is dependent on amount of moisture in meat. Mix all ingredients. Roll into 3 logs about 7 inches long & 1/2 to 1 inch in diameter. Bake on cookie sheet at 325 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Cool, freeze or refrigerate.  Cut into small bits for training. (1/4 inch cubes work well.)

Dog Trainer Gayle - Pawsitive Steps Dog TrainingAs a dog trainer, I believe that the most effective method of dog training revolves around teaching your dog what you want them to do, how to behave, how to act in their environment, and what appropriate behaviors are, under given circumstances and situations.

If you’re having a difficult time training your dog, don’t have the time to train him properly, or you would like to learn along with your pup, Contact me or check out my family friendly classes.

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