By Oscar Pet Foods Berkshire
Contrary to popular belief, dogs are scavengers and not hunters. In fact dogs have evolved so much over the decades that the vast majority would be unable to survive without humans. They did indeed evolve from the wolf, but again over the decades they have been bred and inter-bred to produce the wide variety of breeds that we have today. The details of the evolution of the domestic dog is a subject in its own right that is not explored in the blog.
But let’s get back to the fact that dogs are scavengers and they would be happy to do this all day if they could. Add to this the fact that they are very intelligent and need to be stimulated. Left to their own devices they can become bored and go looking for their own entertainment. So, where does ‘how to feed’ come into this mix?
Well, firstly how you feed main meals and treats not only elevates boredom, makes mealtimes much more interesting and last longer, the effects of a good feeding regime can also increase activity which in turn helps prevent weight gain, so really a win-win all round.
So, what do most of us do? We just pop all the food into a bowl, the dog bolts it down in literally a matter of seconds, meal over until the next time.
Racso our Cockerpoo has a variety of activity toys, his kong, maze and a Buster Cube. These are all used on a regular basis at mealtimes, or when he is going to be left or just to give him something to do, he absolutely loves them all.
SO, how to feed – firstly a few obvious points, never feed just once a day, always twice a day. How would you feel if you had breakfast and then that was it until the next morning? Always measure the food at meal-times, failing to do this can lead to over feeding and more expense for you. Don’t leave the dog to graze on food throughout the day and don’t be tempted to feed other food if they don’t eat what’s put down. All this does is make the dog become a fussy eater.
Providing there are no reasons why your dog would not eat their food, for example toothache or other underlying health issues then you should follow these simple steps, which will prevent your dog becoming a fussy eater.
- Put the required amount of food down and leave for 20 minutes
- If it’s still there after this time pick it up and don’t feed anything else at all, not even the smallest of treats for the rest of the day
- At the next mealtime put the correct amount of food back down and repeat the above
- Remember, if you’re putting too much food down the dog may not eat it all because he is just full and has had enough.
- Always keep a visual check on their body to ensure they are not gaining weight, check out our scoring chart to see what shape they should be, if in doubt give us a call.
So, you’re now feeding as per the suggestions above, so now let’s make mealtimes fun. When we feed Racso, we put half of his meal into his bowl, (which he doesn’t touch until told to do so). We then pop the remainder into his Buster Maze, just look at this video to see what he has to do. As you will see he must work, but he is also moving around being active. If we know we’re going to be going out close to his mealtime we’ll pop his food into his Buster Cube, again he has to work and be active to get the food out. This cube is best used when you’re going out, when the dog gets to grips it’ll be rolling around the room making a bit of a racket.
Treats; over-feed these without reducing food fed at mealtimes and there is a big risk that your dog will start to slowly gain weight. Firstly, dogs don’t need to be fed large sized treats, it’s the taste in the tongue that is important. So, always feed a very small sized treat, break it down to no more than 5cm in size, that really is enough. This way you can feed more times and still not over-feed.
If you’re going out and the dog is going to be left, have a ‘going out’ routine so they know they are going to be left. If we’re not using his Buster Cube we break a few treats into very small pieces, make him sit and wait, then hide them around the room. As we leave he is told to ‘go find’ this then occupies him for a while and we go off out, again he knows the routine which is so important.
It you follow the tips above for feeding your dog, he/she will a) have a proper feeding routine, b) he/she will be stimulated, c) he/she will be more active.
REMEMBER: when buying treats check the ingredients always ensure they don’t contain any artificial colours, preservatives etc which can affect behaviour.
If you would like more information on any of the tips above then why not drop Racso an email at www.askracso.co.uk/contact
BUSTER CUBE – Now redesigned in vibrant new colours the design is the same; roll the cube to release the treats. With treats in place you can adjust the size of the holes so that your dog will remain interested and stimulated while you’re away from them – £15.70
BUSTER MAZE – These come in two sizes, standards and mini and a variety of colours, blue, lime and grey – £19.33 or £28.64