It is interesting how many dog owners look towards training and behaviour advice before looking at other things, truly basic things, which could be affecting how their pet behaves. We hear it all the time don’t we, how good food and regular exercise affects our physical and mental well- being. Well read on, because the same things affect our dogs.
Dog food is a huge market. It is also a terrifying one. When we begin to look into how many commercial dog foods are made it’s like opening a can of worms. One of the more worrying things is the ingredients that are used for the food of our pets.
Think how difficult it can be to regulate human food, particularly meat based foods and then take a good look at the ingredients in the food that your dog eats. Is it a little hazy? Well it’s maybe time to look at what the hazy ingredients mean.
Some of the more unusual things that regularly go into convenience foods manufactured for our pets include fillers. Fillers are an ingredient that is used specifically to decrease the cost of the food. By bulking it out with fillers a food will go further. Common fillers are corn shells, citrus pulp, peanut hulls, weeds and even feathers.
Grains can also cause your dog problems. Many premium dog foods are now grain free – preferring to use rice or potatoes as a carbohydrate source. If your dog is sluggish with a poor coat and regular stomach problems then removing wheat and gluten from the diet may help him to become healthier and more comfortable.
Another dog food concern is preservatives and colourings. Some dry foods are painted many different colours and this is for saleability aimed at the owner – not the dog. The dog doesn’t care what colour his food is. Along with these colours though, much like children and sweets, comes chemicals. These chemicals often change a dog’s behaviour. Once again much like a child and too many sweets.
So there you have it. And we have not even touched on the quality of the meat used, the antibiotics the cattle may have been fed and which areas of the animal is used in the food that our dogs eat.
Exercise is essential. Absolutely vital for any dog that is expected to behave nicely. It really is surprising how many dogs are taken to training classes who have never ever been off leash for a run. The poor dogs are bursting, literally desperate for a flat out gallop. Sadly the well-meaning owners are scared of losing their dog at the park and so get dragged around on the leash for short periods. Then walking gets so difficult that the dog rarely goes out at all so his behaviour gets worse and the problem continues.
Yes admittedly that’s worse- case scenario. Most are less problematic. But it stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if a dog has excess energy he will not settle down. He won’t learn as well and he will probably be a pest around the house.
So when thinking of a well-trained dog remember that any dog also needs to be well fed and properly exercised otherwise the dog will barely benefit from all the training sessions and advice in the world.
Sally is a writer currently specialising in non -fiction canine training, care and welfare based in Scotland, United Kingdom. Published regularly in magazines and online with informative canine advice she strives to raise the profile of dogs in rescue centres.