Acorn Dog Training

What a diet change can do!

Good Citizen Scheme

What a diet change can do ~ By Fiona Ellis

I am the very fortunate owner of 3 rescue dogs. Max, a Lab cross around 16 years old. Yogi, a Belgian Shepherd cross, approximately 6 years old and Larry, a Border Collie approximately 9 years old. I have had each of these dogs for varying lengths of time, between 4 and 11 years. All have come with problems ranging from barking at other dogs (Max), Hyperactivity and stress (Yogi) to severe aggression to all strangers (Larry).

Over the years I have fed my dogs a variety of commercial dry dog foods thinking this is the best way to feed them for various reasons. Nutritious, convenient and economical to name but a few.

Over these same years, there have been behavioral problems that wouldn't go away, despite my best efforts of training, reading copious books on the subject and taking advice from a number of people with experience in these matters. It was very distressing as I felt I was doing everything to make these dogs lives as happy and healthy as I could, yet I was getting nowhere. In fact, I think some of the problems were getting worse.

Max, although getting on in years, still persisted at going demented every time he saw another dog. Yogi, getting so hyper every time there was even a slight variation in his routine that he was unable to control himself. Car journeys were a nightmare. Someone knocking at the door turned the house to chaos. Walking in a group with the others became a tug of war. And Larry, showing dangerous aggression to everyone he met. He was also unable to walk sensibly on the lead. All these things sent their stress levels through the roof (along with mine and my husbands!)

One day, having reached the end of our tethers, I called Fran to see if she could help. The first thing she mentioned was diet. I thought that I least here I was doing something right. But no, Fran went on to explain how many pet foods were manufactured and the contents might not be as healthy as presumed. Further more, cooking food was destroying many of the nutrients that dogs need for health, both physical and mental.

I had vaguely heard in the past of feeding dogs a raw natural diet, but for a number of reasons had decided not to listen. I thought that I would not be able to tolerate feeding raw meat as I am vegetarian (selfish I know). I thought that I would not be able to provide a balanced diet for my dogs (rubbish - dogs in the wild do not cook for themselves or eat the same thing everyday). I thought that it would be too expensive (rubbish) and I thought that I would not know where to begin changing their diets so radically (rubbish again as information and support is readily available).

Agreeing with what Fran had told me, I went off to source some good quality meat from a local pet shop. It is important here to stress the fact that the meat fed to dogs should be human grade meat. Many meats destined for the pet food market are not good quality and therefore won't provide enough nutrients and can actively be detrimental to pet health.

The first raw meal that I served to my dogs was a revelation. They all absolutely loved it. My fussy eater (Max, who usually had to be coaxed to eat - I just thought it was because he was getting old) was like a pup again. Larry and Yogi both ate with gusto. Since then, we have never looked back. I now feed my dogs a variety of raw meats, bones and vegetables. Sometimes adding things like yogurt, fruit and table scraps. It is now a pleasure to feed them.

The benefits of this diet started showing very quickly. Their coats started to get glossier. Dandruff and flaky skin cleared and their digestion improved But the most astonishing change was their behavior. They started to calm down. They are becoming more responsive. They have started learning. I can't believe the difference in them and neither can our families. I am not saying that they are now the perfect dogs - they're not. But the improvements have been tenfold. We are now able to walk at a reasonable pace without being dragged all over the place. We have even been on a car journey without all of them completely loosing the plot. (one bark in 20 minutes instead of 20 minutes of barking). Max is able to walk past a dog without going demented. Larry can walk past someone (albeit at a distance) without trying to go for him or her. He even concentrates on what I am saying.

All these improvements have not been achieved through diet alone. We are having the help of a behaviorist and also a vet in the case of Larry who is having tests for his thyroid and also has mild arthritis and hip dysplasia. We still have a long way to go but I firmly believe that the correct diet has unlocked their ability to learn and change even at advanced ages. My dogs are happier and less stressed and so am I. That is priceless.

Fiona Ellis.

Good quality dog meat can be obtained from Landywood Pet Foods


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