Guest Blog: Raw Feeding And Behaviour
Can raw and natural feeding positively effect a dog’s behaviour? Friend of Natures Menu and respected canine behaviourist Alistair Bray shares his views.
What a load of dog food.
The words “Dog Food” have been used in quite a derogatory way for many years. I think this is rather sad and needs to change. If you feel an emotional connection with your dog like many owners do then you really must consider emotively what you feed them. This means really looking into what you’re feeding and not just filling a bowl with “Dog Food”.
I care what my dogs eat, not just because I want them to enjoy eating it - I want them to have the right food for the activities, exercise, age and build of each of them. They say ‘we are what we eat’ and the same goes for dogs.
How does diet and feeding routine impact a dog’s behaviour?
Once you have lovingly prepared the best food, you feel happy serving it to your dog, and you will notice you’re both happier at feeding times. You will look and see that your dog’s eagerly awaiting their food and then won’t lift their head out of the bowl until it’s all gone. You then pick up and wash the bowl and escort your dog outside for a drink of water and opportunity to go to the toilet. This shared emotive food routine is the basis to most relationships. Just think what you and your partner did when you first met, just think what it’s like to all sit as a family round a lovingly prepared meal.
If you’re feeding your dog food that is full of “derivatives” and “additives” then your dog is not going to be at their healthiest, mentally or physically. We all know that artificial colourings such as ‘e’ numbers can cause behaviour issues in humans - why would a dog be any different? Dogs will display bad behavioural traits when you feed dog food with bad additives. I would always avoid words like “derivatives” in both animal and vegetable parts.
Diet is the first step in addressing many behavioural issues
I almost always advise a dog owner who is feeding a cheap own brand or high in additive food to change to Natures Menu then call me back in 7 days if the issues are still apparent.
There is slightly more to it, as in time spent with the dog training and walking, but I guarantee taking this first food based obstacle out of the equation will make training and behaviour easier to modify.
Toilet training. We all want this to be as quick and hassle free as possible. Good diets allow bowel and bladder movements to be easy to predict. This means you can pop your dog outside after each meal and reward the outside toileting. If however you’re feeding a poor choice of food with high sugars and or salts the bowel will be loose, the dog will dehydrate and drink more water, then when the water builds up they pee and all of these toilets are in the wrong place over and over and does not get rewarded, thus making toilet training more tricky.
Stealing Food. If you’re not feeding enough of the correct and best food your dog will feel the need to steal, though we do know dogs are opportunistic scavengers this need is heightened with incorrect feeding and the being genuinely hungry.
Guarding or protecting Food. Food is very necessary to life and dogs that have been subjected to irregular feeding patterns can be food guarders. Once a dog understands that quality food is plenty and regular this will naturally change a dog’s behaviour - remember the shared emotive food routine I mentioned earlier. Dogs that know when food is coming are far more balanced than grazers and dogs that have starved. Lovingly holding a bowl of quality food for the dog while they eat it will make a lasting impact on all dogs, the trust will build and they will relax about guarding it. I would also like you to all consider how you would feel if another person walked up and took your dinner away. Removing food guarding can be done in a very negative power hungry manor a lot of the time. Build trust in the emotion of feeding and your dog will understand that food is nothing to worry about.