Oz Working Dogs - Assistance & Working Dog Equipment

For assistance/service dog equipment, as well as guide, therapy, detection, search & rescue, police and dogs in training equipment check out my website http://www.ozworkingdogs.com.au - I make and sell vests, capes, belly bands, harnesses, handles and more... and will post to the world!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The benefits of raw feeding and a 1 minute down stay!!

6 months 2 weeks 4 days old

So after working on a 1 minute down stay for months today we got there! I really think I can credit the Manners Minder with helping to break the 1 minute mark. Whilst a minute isn't very impressive for an adult dog (my previous dog had to do a 5 minute down stay in his training exam - surrounded with dogs on either side), for a 6 month old puppy I am VERY happy with it!! Puppies just don't have the powers of concentration an adult has, which is why task training for assistance dogs in training only starts when they are at least a year old - when they are more likely to pick up the training quickly and make sensible choices. For Knightley's age, he's doing just fine. Now I need to work on getting it up to 1 minute outside with distractions, which will  be much harder! We can do a 20 second down stay outside comfortably with distractions, we just need to work on increasing that slowly up to the minute mark. Now the fact that the Manners Minder (MM) is battery powered comes into its own, because I can easily take it outside with us, and use it to build his attention span in the face of all sorts of distractions. On the subject of the MMs portability, I am very happy with it for someone who isn't able to move heavy or difficult objects without repercussions on my health. I don't have to reach right down to floor level in order to pick it up, and it is actually lighter than it looks, which would make taking it outside fairly easy for me. It really is a well thought out tool.

Our sit stay actually went backwards today but never mind that, I am sure that was just a bit of a blip......!     It is very rare that Knightley actually breaks a stay, I take stay training very very slowly in order to have him less likely to develop the bad habit of thinking it's ok to break a stay if he's bored. If you increase the time of a stay in leaps and bounds then the chance that the dog will break in one of those those longer periods. If you treat really regularly and don't keep the dog waiting for you to return to him for long, then the dog is getting more feedback that it is doing the right thing and is more likely to continue doing what it is doing because it is getting treats.

Knightley with some chicken thighs.  He
must always wait for release ("go eat!")
before touching his food. It takes quite a
bit of self control to stay away from a bowl
of raw chicken. He's a good puppy.
Raw feeding is going really well....Knightley is definitely loving it! I've fed Knightley a range of chicken cuts now, depending on how much bone he needs for a given meal - trying to keep up the 80% meat, 10% bone and 10% organ (5% any organ and 5% liver) ratios. I gave him a chicken maryland last night, his largest cut so far, which is the thigh and drumstick with bone in, and it was pretty amazing watching him eat it. When you are raw feeding you give the food in as large a piece as you can, you shouldn't cut it up. Dogs have a limited ability to tear off bits if they need to, using their feet to hold the food down and using their molars to cut the food off. Mostly though, the dog will give the piece of food a really good chew, breaking up all the bones inside (amazing to hear their jaw strength) and then if the piece fits, it disappears down the hatch. Amazing stuff. That's more of less what Knightley did with the chicken maryland. He chewed off a small piece first, as obviously he thought it was a bit big for him to swallow straight off, and then systematically gave the whole cut a good chew, breaking down all the bones into little pieces inside the chicken and putting lots of holes in the chicken itself so it became a lot more pliable. Then.... with a swallow, the whole thing just disappears. Raw feeding has several great benefits:

  • If the pieces are properly sized, it can give the dog some good exercise
  • Managing large and unusual cuts is a good mental workout
  • Dealing with bone, meat and organ instead of kibble or wet dog food keeps teeth in top notch condition
  • It avoids all the horrible 'fillers' dog food companies put in their dog foods, such as corn by-products, beet pulp, and anything else that the dog doesn't actually digest but could be possibly sensitive to, and is cheap to bulk it out and reduce the cost of manufacture
  • It gives the dog some quality meat instead of the worst offcuts the *vast* majority of dog food manufacturers use in their food. Not only that, it is unprocessed, without the need for stabilisers and preservatives.
  • You know what your dog is eating, instead of a list of ingredients that you may or may not understand.
  • If the ratios of 8:1:1 are properly managed then your dog will be going to the toilet a lot less, with a LOT less volume (as nearly everything you feed is able to be digested), and with a great consistency.
The only drawback at the moment is cost, and that is something that tends to come don over time as you find the cheapest places to buy. Australia has much more expensive chicken than the US/UK etc unfortunately, and you are always meant to start raw feeding with chicken because it is a meat most dogs like but few react badly to, and one that is easy to get in many different cuts. Also, the bones are soft for beginner raw dogs. I have started looking around for alternative sources - abattoirs, farms etc and the like, but it can apparently take many months to get good sources. Once that is achieved, the cost is meant to be quite similar to that of a top quality kibble, and I am already feeding a very good kibble.

Other than our adventures into raw feeding and working on stays, we are doing lots of loose leash as per usual, polishing our 'back up' cue which is looking lovely, and working on door zen a lot too - trying to make it automatic so that he won't go through any recently opened door without waiting for permission. He is doing really well and it is a very nice handy behaviour. The only problem is when someone comes to the front door, it all goes out the window. Door zen???! But this is a NEW PERSON!!!!!!

We'll get there, like we will on everything. :)

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