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Good Dog Training
All About Food
What you feed your dog can have a big impact on his behavior as well as his health. Dogs who are nutritionally deprived, even if they are getting food, are more likely to feel insecure and have less of an instinct to look to their people to help them solve problems.
Puppies who are not fed often enough and get too hungry in between meals are more likely to be bitey and barky and may learn to resource guard. They are also more likely to inhale their food, a practice that will continue into adulthood and is not healthy. An 8-week old puppy should be getting fed 4x a day, and that should continue until they are 4-6 months old. They should then be fed 3x a day until they are 10-12 months old, and twice a day going forward for the rest of their lives (although some really senior dogs may revert to 3x a day and have smaller meals).
An ideal dog diet is 75% good quality animal protein and 25% whole fruits and veggies. Grains are not a regular part of a natural dog diet and wheat, corn and soy should be avoided completely. What can cause itching and hot spots, or mild tummy upset and corn can cause gas. These gains give your dog zero nutritional value, and dogs that eat foods with large amounts of wheat, corn and soy (like Purina Pro Plan, Science Diet, Royal Canid, etc) have really large poops because they are passing those grains right through. If there are other grains, like rice, oats and barley, they should be pretty far down the list of ingredients, not the third, fourth and fifth ingredients. Dogs do not forage for grains in the wilds but they would get some when they eat grain-eating animals. Chicken is not a great protein for a dog; there are no wild chickens for their ancestors to have hunted and many dogs are sensitive to chicken and get hot spots or tummy troubles from it. Whole fruits and veggies are the things you find in the produce department; carrots, green beans, pumpkin, sweet potato, spinach, blueberries, apples, cherries, etc. It's not weird stuff like potato starch, vegetable glycerin, dried beet pulp, etc. Peas are not a great choice. They are a legume, not a veggie and are mostly starch. You need to watch out for ingredient splitting, which you see a lot with peas; peas, pea protein, pea fiber, pea flour...It lets the manufacturers put lots of cheap peas in the food without having to list them as the first ingredient. Lentils are another things to watch for as they interfere with taurine absorption, a necessary element for heart health. If your dog is a breed that is genetically predisposed to heart issues like Dilated Cardomyopathy (Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, NewFoundlands, St. Bernards to name a few), you might want to avoid lentils entirely. You should also change the proteins regularly so your dog gets a good variety. He wouldn't eat a rabbit every day.
The best way to feed your dog is a raw diet. You can do this yourself from a recipe (The Whole Dog Journal as some good resources for that) to ensure the ratios and quantities you feed are correct, or you can buy it remade from good pet stores or online. Another good option is a freeze dried diet where the food still looks like real food, not like weird squares that feel like cardboard. BigDogNatural.com is a good source as they take the proteins and fruits and veggies, ferment them, freeze dry them and bag them You can still recognize the different elements and it's all human grade high quality ingredients that you could eat yourself. You add water and go. If you want to feed kibble (dry dog food) there are a number of good brands. The Whole Dog Journal does an annual review, but now that you have an idea what to look for when you read the ingredients you can make better decisions and balance quality with price.