Dog Behaviour & Training

Food And The Effects On Canine Behaviour

One of the most common oversights I see when working with my clients and their dogs is the lack of knowledge, or even complete disregard to the effects of the food that they supply their pet.

In the last 15 years since I started working with dogs, the growth of the pet food market has been huge. In fact if you go to any pet store, especially the larger chains, you will find floor to ceiling and wall to wall full of different brands of dog food.

It is very daunting and confusing to a pet owner, after all we all want the best for our beloved friends.

We need to educate ourselves more on the nutritional aspect of our dog’s food to ensure not only quality, but the terminology of additives that go into it.

When attempting to train your dog you must take in to account if their brain is functioning at its full potential, I do not mean this in a medical way, but in a natural balanced way. As with humans, the dog’s brain works best when the nutrients are of the highest and most natural as possible.

For example, if you were to suffer from a depressive episode (this is not relating to clinical depression) and you visited your GP for help, one question you would be asked is “What do you eat throughout the day?”

If you were to answer “Chicken nuggets and chips mostly” your GP would immediately recommend a change in your diet and to get more exercise. The reason for this is that the poor quality ingredients and lack of needed nutrients in this diet are reducing the production of Serotonin. Serotonin is the “happy hormone” which makes us feel good, and we need and want this!

Back to the dog, they too need a good supply of Serotonin and as this is mostly found within the digestive system, having quality nutrition is an absolute must when dealing with anxiety or fear based behaviours. We need to avoid the bulking ingredients and try to look for more natural and quality sources of ingredients instead.

If we are looking at a specific behaviour, like over excitement or lack of attention then we need to look at what I call “Behaviour Multipliers”. These are the additives in the food, like E numbers in human food for example.

You wouldn’t give your hyperactive teenage son a can of Red Bull would you? Of course not, so next time you look at your dog’s food bag check to see if it contains sugars or vegetable protein extracts.

A great source of information on what ingredients mean can be found on the All About Dog Food website.