Nutrition is a key component to behavior.
Negative behaviors that can have a nutritional component include:
- Hyperactivity, dogs who never settle.
- Reactivity, dogs who react excessively to every stimuli.
- Destructive behaviors.
Negative behaviors can also be a product of physical imbalance and/or discomfort that can have a nutritional cause. The most common seen at the ranch are:
- Bone growth disorders such as panosteitis or osteochondrosis.
- Excessive urination.
- Urinary tract infection.
Physical imbalances create a deficit in learning capacity, including:reduced retention of information, reduced ability to sequence, reason, and to generalize. It's harder to learn if you feel lousy. Physical issues can also drive the adrenalin mechanisms of the body towards extremes, contributing to the classic profile of the hyperactive dog in nutritional deficit. Owners typically report that despite their best efforts, they just don't seem to get anywhere with the pup and/or that the negative behaviors go on and on regardless of what they do. It has been my repeated experience, hundreds and hundreds of times over the years, that shifting the nutrition creates a seismic change in the dog, with concomitant immediate changes in behavior and learning capacity. Where distinct physical problems are observed, dogs are referred out for veterinary consultation in conjunction with discussions with the owner.
Here at the ranch, clients provide the food during training, but I will only feed a 5 or 6 star formula (or the equivalent) as defined by one of the rating sites such as www.dogfoodadvisor.com; www.dogfoodanalysis.com; or www.whole-dog-journal.com. I go over the nutrition program with every dog that enters training to help build a healthy body and a willing brain in an age and breed appropriate way. I am well familiar with raw food feeding as well so that is not an obstacle here at the ranch as there is a dedicated freezer for raw canine foods. Again, we take a look at the nutritional program to make sure it is a balanced one, as well as assisting with practical approaches to feeding raw.
The ultimate goal is a collaboration between owner, trainer and veterinary support to create the very best program for each individual dog. The nutritional needs of a fifteen pound 2 year old maltese with teeth issues are not the same as a 75lb 7 month old Labrador.