Does What I Feed My Dog Affect His Behavior?

Years ago, when I grew up, there were very few choices of dog foods available….under ten for sure!  That’s just not the case today.  Over the years, the types and brands of dog foods have just exploded!  It can totally be overwhelming for dog owners, and I’m sure I’m not alone on this one!

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All dog foods are NOT created equally!  And diet really does matter to your dog!  What we feed not only affects our dog’s physical health and appearance, but it also affects our dog’s behavior!  Few owners consider the fact that what they feed their dogs can also make a difference in how their dogs behave!  There’s far more to our dog food than the bottom line cost, and that’s what I hear from folks most of the time:  How expensive their dog’s food is!  Let me help you see things from a different perspective!

On occasion, a dog that I’m training will have housebreaking issues.  On a few occasions, when I’ve suggested that an owner change the dog food, the dog has been housebroken in a short amount of time.  Cheaper brands require a higher volume to be fed, and that often means more trips outside for potty breaks!  A higher quality food will allow you to feed less, and that way, your investment actually goes to the health of your dog, versus fertilizing your lawn!

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Let’s consider a different type of behavior!  If your dog has a food allergy, he may have dry skin and feel uncomfortably itchy and prickly.  He may not want to be petted if it’s uncomfortable, and that might result in some growls to make his point.  Changing his food to something he can tolerate well will stop the growling if he’s not feeling uncomfortable when someone pets him.  My point is, the naughty behavior all started with the dog’s food: change the food and the behavior changes!  Often in situations like these, training needs to also happen, because a dog can learn behavior…and in this case, he may have learned to growl because he’s afraid he’s going to feel uncomfortable when he’s touched.  Training will reprogram his thinking so that he no longer fears being touched.  Changing the food and moderating the behavior through training can end up with a great result!

Now, to be sure….not all behavior issues result from diet!  My point with this blog is simply to point out that behavior can be linked to diet, and that what you feed your dog really and truly does matter….especially with a special needs dog!!  I can tell you  that when I’m using a high protein meat bait with dogs, I get terrific results with focus…even in difficult situations.

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When I get questions about what to feed a puppy or dog, I generally refer my clients to a great website called “dogfoodadvisor.com.”  It’s a non-scientific site that reviews dog foods.  You’ll see dog foods on this list that you’ve never, ever heard of in a million years!  It’s extensive!  And they rank dog foods from one to five stars, based upon the ingredients and guaranteed analysis of the contents.  They describe what the ingredients mean, and they highlight any ingredients that they feel are controversial.

This way, you can do your own research at home, comparing brands of food, rather than take the word of the salespeople at the big pet box stores.  You can narrow down your search to a few foods, and go from there to make your decision.  Nice and relaxing, instead of feeling like you’re on the spot trying to make that complicated decision in the store!

pexels-photo-53769Once you have narrowed down some foods you’re considering, keep in mind that this website has a place for community comments at the bottom of each review.  It’s a great place to ask questions, and you’ll get feedback from other people, which can be useful when you’re trying to make your decision.

Another nice feature of dogfoodadvisor.com is that you can sign up to receive emails of any recalled foods.  Ever since the big issue with tainted dog food several years ago, where several dogs died, I’ve been much more alert to recalls, and really appreciate knowing when a company has issued a recall on their food or treats.

Just some additional thoughts that I have on dog foods in general is that I personally tend to shy away from foods that are heavily advertised.  My thinking on that is because as a small business owner, I am well aware of the high costs of advertising!  Any company that spends tons of money on advertising, doesn’t have those funds to spend on their product itself.  Sometimes, the smaller mom and pop companies can really be wonderful and offer a superior product.

More than anything, however, I hope I’ve given you “food” for thought about how what you feed your dog may actually be affecting his behavior!

 

 

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