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Tips & Training

Dog Food Done Right

The original version of this article by Tony J. Peterson appeared in the October 2015 issue of Gundog Magazine.

Kinetic at NAHRA event in Alaska

Kinetic’s John Howard has made it his mission to give sporting dogs exactly what they need nutrition-wise

At 46 years old, and having grown up in Eastern Iowa, it would be safe to assume that Kinetic’s John Howard, would have a history of pheasant hunting. And you’d be correct, but if you also assumed that he grew up with bird dogs, you’d be wrong. As he puts it, “When it came to the rough stuff, I was the bird dog. My dad and I loved to hunt and fish together, and we always had dogs on the farm, but we never had real bird dogs.”

It wasn’t until later in life when Howard would become friends with Steve Ries who owns Top Gun Kennels, that he would start to catch a serious case of bird dog fever. “I started working pointing dogs with Steve and realized that I had to get a dog. Seeing how much energy those dogs expended, it was amazing.” Howard ended up getting a Lab, and now owns two.

At the time when he picked up his first pup, Howard also happened to be working for Kent Feeds, and was instrumental in the launch of their Native brand of dog food. He also worked closely with the hunting dog world, and got to see what worked for the dogs and what didn’t. And it’s what didn’t that led him to go out on his own as he recalls, “We saw how different aspects of business would drive formula decisions and that was always in the back of my mind when I decided to leave and start my marketing firm.” After forming Frontera Marketing Group, which would take him in several new directions, Howard realized that he missed the dog business. He started having conversations with current business partner, Dave Dourson, about what they’d do if they started a dog food company.

John Howard Kinetic Dog FoodHoward and Dourson, along with the help of Ries (who was working with Hubbard Feeds at the time) started to develop a plan to launch their own brand. As Howard explains, it wasn’t an overnight process by any means, “We worked through some of the dietary issues with our formulas and started testing them out at a number of kennels. It took almost three years of refining them before we were confident that we had it right. Ries then connected us to some of the folks at Hubbard Feeds who were interested in distributing our line and we launched.

“I’m a marketing guy by trade. I ended up in the dog food business by accident,” Howard explains before continuing, “After I got out of college, I didn’t really know what to do. Ending up in the dog food world just happened, and I had no idea how much I’d enjoy the people in the industry, and hunting dog owners specifically. They are literally some of the best people out there, and we’ve found that to be even more true now that we are involved as sponsors in NAHRA and UGA. It’s amazing, but there is so little ego in the bird dog world, everyone just loves dogs. It really is all about the dogs.”

The Details

Feeding bird dogs isn’t quite like feeding house dogs, or other canines with different purposes. Our dogs should only be fed at certain times, with a once-per-day feeding oftentimes the best option. This is what Howard aimed for with Kinetic, and as he explains, it’s not all they did to help out our dogs, “Our goal from the beginning was to pack enough nutrition into our formulas to ensure that a once-daily feeding would be enough to keep dogs healthy.

“For the hunting crowd, our 30k and 32k formulas are ideal. We also have a 26k and Puppy formula that can work for both hunting dogs, and less-active companion animals. Throughout our entire lineup, there are aspects that are good for any kind of dog, like the vitamins and trace mineral packages we include. Our trace mineral package is expensive, maybe the most expensive on the market, but we wanted something all dogs could truly benefit from.” While sales are increasing every year, Howard admitted that there is a bit of an education challenge to selling high-end dog food to the masses, and not always for the reasons one would expect.

“In the last two decades, a trend has developed among dog owners to try to feed dogs the way they themselves would want to eat. This is why you see some dog foods advertising ingredients that are good for people, but don’t necessarily do much for canines because they aren’t really digestible to dogs. Including vegetable or plant elements into the food like sweet potatoes, blueberries and whatever else appeals to us, but offers the dogs only starches and sugars at best.”

Amongst the hunting crowd it’s no secret that non- and especially anti-hunters spend a lot of time anthropomorphizing animals to be, in their eyes, as human as possible. What those folks tend to overlook is that animals are different than us, with different dietary needs. Fortunately for gun dog owners, there are folks like Howard and Dourson who remain focused on the nutritional, rather than the emotional, foundations so our dogs get the right stuff at each feeding.

To elaborate on this further, Howard explains, “We basically ignored the give-people-food-to-dogs trend and stuck to core nutrition principles. This is why our formulas contain multiple animal protein sources, plenty of digestive fibers, and good fat sources. Of those, the protein sources are extremely important to understand, especially when you start dealing with meat by-products. By-products get a bad reputation because we don’t want them in our food, but a lot of by-products are highly digestible and contain essential amino acids. Wild dogs or wolves don’t eat deer backstraps and leave the intestines for the crows, they eat it all and they start in the guts first because it’s what they need. Our dogs need a wider variety of animal proteins than we do, which is why we have put so much into our formulas.”

Present & Future

Howard spends his days working with his marketing company, with Kinetic, and working with his dogs. He admits to being an upland hunter at heart, but is eyeing up some of the waterfowl opportunities available on the nearby Mississippi. He readily admits, “We are happy with our formulas and our primary focus is on bird dogs and right now, our biggest problem is keeping up with demand through distribution. We’ve gotten requests from sled-dog owners, and even police stations’ K9 units for our food, which is really cool.”

When asked if the Kinetic line will witness any expansion in the near future, Howard alluded to the possibility of looking into the supplement side of things, but quickly followed with this simple statement, “We created this business because we love bird dogs, and bird dog owners. This company is my retirement plan and I intend to run it until I’m old because I enjoy it too much to quit.”

That dedication to the sporting dog world is pretty cool to witness in a company’s owner, and portends well for the future of Kinetic. It’s also not a bad thing to hear as a bird dog owner looking to keep his dog healthy and full of the energy necessary to roust pheasants, grouse, woodcock and whatever else into the air within the reach of an arm-cradled shotgun.

 

Dryland World Championships 2015

The full version of this news release was originally published on the United States Federation of Sleddog Sports website on November 12, 2015.

Team USA Shines!

Bristol, Quebec Canada – The clouds may have been in abundance, occasionally spilling their wet contents on the IFSS (International Federation of Sled dog Sports) Dryland World Championships in Bristol, Quebec, but the performances turned in by USA competitors were brilliant. Over 200 teams from fifteen countries graced the starting chutes in this remote village in Canada for four days of racing October 29th-November 1st. The finish line resulted in eighteen medals for Team USA, with nine golds, five silvers and four bronze medals. Canada, with twelve medals, came in second in the medal count, and France and Belgium, each with seven medals, followed.

 

The USA junior contingent fared exceptionally well. Taking the top honor in gold medals were juniors Nova Clifford (Junior 1-dog scooter), Asa Szegvari (Men’s Junior Canicross), Forest Collins (Men’s Junior Bikejor), Tanner Johnson (Junior 4-dog Rig) and Melissa Murphy (Women’s Junior Bikejor). Juniors also scored big in silvers: Forest Collins (Men’s Junior Canicross), Nova Clifford (Women’s Junor Canicross), and Asa Szegvari (Men’s Junior Bikejor). Joel Carey took home a bronze medal in the Men’s Junior Bikejor class. Asa Szegvari and Forest Collins juggled for the top spot in the Junior Men’s Canicross, exchanging ranking after the second heat of the race, but Asa managed to squeak ahead by a total of fifteen seconds overall.

 

In the adult classes, Peter Franke, a transplant from Germany, garnered two gold medals, both in the Nordic Breed classes (Nordic Breed 4-dog Rig and 2-dog Scooter). Andre Van der Merwe, a recent US immigrant from South Africa, also scored in the Nordic Breed class, taking a bronze medal in the Nordic 4-dog Rig class. Amy Cooper, ever the athlete, took the gold medal in the Women’s Veteran Bikejor for women over 40 years of age. In fact, US women took home all the medals in the Women’s Veteran Bikejor class. Kim Murphy captured the silver medal, and Rebecca Knight the bronze.

 

The sun was definitely shining in the rig classes. In addition to the Nordic Breed medals mentioned above, perhaps the most contested race was in the 6-dog, where Mike Marsch overcame a first day’s time deficit of a split second to best Canadian competitor Ken Bernard on day two by a total of .659 of a second to win the gold. That was a close and exciting race! Angie Carter grabbed the bronze in the Rig 4-dog, and Chris Carter took the silver medal in the Rig 8-dog class.

 

Mushing Gold Medal Mike Marsch

 

Competitors and personnel gathered Saturday evening for a festive Halloween banquet, complete with the clown brigade and lots of good food and drink. Jim Cunningham, the able race marshal, did the emceeing. The highlight of the evening perhaps was Cunningham’s announcement that Canadian Sarah Warford’s dog had been “captured.” A huge round of applause erupted throughout the banquet hall. Sarah had competed in the Women’s Canicross. As she crossed the finish line on Saturday, injured and exhausted, her dog backed out of its harness and took off for parts unknown. It was a stressful time for Sarah, but she was beaming on Sunday morning.

 

USFSS thanks the Bristol Organizing Committee and IFSS for a superb event. A grand time was had by all; friends renewed their acquaintances, met new friends, learned and had fun. Mike Marsch, the USFSS president, summed it up, “ I am so proud of our athletes. They came to the 2015 Dryland World Championship prepared and ready to compete against the best in the world. This is the first time in USA dryland history we took home the most medals. Bristol gave us a good race, good trail, and enabled us to experience the camaraderie that goes with competition.”

 

Complete race results are available on the IFSS website, www.sleddogsport.net.

 

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If you desire additional information or would like to interview USFSS President Mike Marsch, please call 715-797-5622.

The Season Diet: Feeding our Gun Dog During Hunting Season

This article was originally published in the November 2015 issue of The Iowa Sportsman magazine.

In most cases, our dogs are most active during the months of our respective hunting seasons.  Even dogs that train regularly during the offseason can be more active during the hunting months because they are guide dogs, or simply hunt hard a few days per week resulting in more calories burnt and more wear and tear on the body.

For maximum performance, as well as a speedy recovery it is crucial to feed our dogs properly.  I am asked frequently “What do you feed your dogs during the hunting season”?  The truth is that my dogs eat the same food year round.  With rigorous training year round, as well as hunting during the season, I feed my dogs something with a high enough protein content, as well as fat.  This way, not only do my dogs have a great energy source, but enough protein to repair and recover after a hard day afield.

My particular food of choice is the POWER Formula from Kinetic Performance Dog Food.  This blend contains 30% crude protein, and 20% crude fat, which is ideal for dogs that have high activity levels in their day to day routines (1-2 hour increments).  Let’s take a look at some key focus points when evaluating a food to feed your hunting dog during the season.

Multiple Protein Sources Upland Hunting Dog Food

Protein is what fuels muscle activity, so during the season when our dogs are most active it is important to have easily digestible sources of protein.  The food I feed has chicken, fish and egg (the fish adds other benefits I will touch on soon).

Multiple Fat Sources

For energy, a dog’s body (just like human bodies) will metabolize fat.  For that reason, adequate fat content is critical in maximizing the nutritional value of your dog’s food.  The POWER Formula that I feed my dogs includes chicken fat, fish oil and sunflower oil.  Fish oil is also rich in omega 3 fatty acid which creates healthy and durable skin, coat and paw pads to endure the hunting season.  So many issues in dogs can stem from a lack of proper fats; energy level, itchiness and dry pads.

Common Ingredient Profile

One benefit to the Kinetic POWER Formula that I feed that I think we should all consider when selecting our dog food is the common ingredient formula.  What this means is that a brand of dog food typically offers different varieties (for example “Adult”, “Sport”, etc.) but they all include the same basic ingredients.  The benefit here is that if you were to switch to the different blend (maybe switch to the higher protein/higher fat content food during the hunting months) it would be stress free on your dog’s digestive system.

Vitamins and Trace Minerals

It is not only protein that helps a dog’s body recover from vigorous activity.  Vitamins, chelated trace minerals, prebiotics and electrolytes all play a vital role in the process as well.  You will want to make sure that your food contains an adequate vitamin and trace mineral package, as I believe these components are what can really set one food apart from another.  For example, the food that I feed contains Betaine, which breaks down proteins and fats into more digestible form.  This is fairly unique in dog food, so I really appreciate this “feature”.  I also recommend looking at the ingredients list and seeing where potassium shows up.  Is it early in the list?  If so, that is great!  We as humans are told to eat bananas to reduce muscle aches, soreness, stiffness and cramping.  The potassium is what helps these symptoms and it is no different for our dogs.  Typically potassium is far down the list of ingredients, so the sooner, the better.  Another rare vitamin the food I feed contains is L-Carnitine which largely contributes to converting fat to energy.

Feeding a dog food that accounts for some of the items described above will ensure that your dog is receiving appropriate nutrition during the hunting season.  Because of the high nutritional value from these factors, you will not need to increase their food intake (something several sporting dog owners do) to offset their increased activity.  This is the benefit to feeding a food blend that is geared towards a true sporting dog.  With the right amount of protein, fat, vitamins and so forth, your dog will receive the proper amount of nutritional value without having to overfeed (the body can only digest so much of these items before they essentially go to waste).  Of course the other benefit here is the economics.  Good food is not cheap, so being able to properly feed your dog with superior nutrition and make your bag last as long as possible is a great benefit to feeding premium food.   There may be situations where higher caloric intake is necessary (pregnant female, working dog that burns very high calories on a daily basis, etc.), but overall a normal daily serving (I feed twice per day) will suffice.

There are several great dog foods on the market, but in using my choice of food as an example I hope I am able to point out key factors you should look for when managing your hunting dog’s nutrition during the season.  Hunting dogs are athletes, and like all athletes, nutrition is one of, if not the important element in consistent performance and overall health.

Ryan Eder About Ryan Eder

Ryan is the President of the Upland Gundog Association and a longtime trainer of hunting Retrievers. You can learn more about Ryan and his training methods at the UGA website, www.uplandgundog.com.

Feeding the Working K9

Working Dog Challenges

It’s a pretty rare event to see an active working K9 carrying excess weight. In fact, the opposite is generally the more likely situation. The combination of breed and drive in working K9s often results in a dog that burns a ton of energy and has a great deal of difficulty maintaining weight. This can jeopardize the health and performance of a valuable canine team member who serves on the front line of protection; whether police, private security or military.

Feeding Working K9 DogsWorking K9 Breeds

Breed certainly plays a role in the performance of working dogs and it also contributes to the feeding and management challenges. In a K9 workforce made up of a large percentage of German Shepherd (GSD) and Belgian Malinois dogs, many years of breed refinement have created high performance canine athletes that burn fuel at higher than normal levels.

It’s not unusual to have a Mal or GSD burn more energy during “inactive” periods in a kennel than most dogs might use at work or play. Their drive is both genetic and reinforced by training which makes it very difficult to just flip a switch and turn off the motor. In addition, an athlete bred for lean muscle mass is going to have more difficulty maintaining weight under the most relaxing of circumstances. Under the constant stress of high level focus and performance expectations, maintaining proper body condition and overall health becomes an even greater challenge.

Dog Food Needs to Match Performance

Working dogs are required to perform at elite levels and many of them simply cannot be properly fueled by the same diet as a household companion. Even under the same conditions, genetics and drive will force them to burn more energy and require more nutrients to maintain condition and overall health.

Foods created with large amounts of grains, fruits and vegetables with limited, at best, digestibility are simply not going to be sufficient. To maintain peak health and performance, a high energy diet made with plenty of meat, fat and digestible starch is a base requirement. Add in the best quality vitamins, chelated minerals and prebiotics and you’re well on your way to a very healthy dog performing at peak efficiency.

High performance athletes don’t train and compete on snacks and salads. They load up on protein, fat and digestible carbohydrates to fuel extreme performance. While your working K9 needs more of the first two than his human counterparts, the general idea is the same. You don’t win the prize with burgers and fries.

Kinetic Partners with Sweet Points Setter Tales TV

Kinetic Sponsor of Setter Tales Web Series

Setter Tales Web TVWe’re proud to announce our latest sponsorship partner in the performance dog food arena. As a Kinetic advocate and promoter of bird dogs and upland hunting, Wade Kisner and the Setter Tales team are welcome new additions to the Kinetic team. Sweet Point’s Setter Tales web TV is a young but quickly growing media entity with fantastic production quality and great story lines.

“We love the quality of the Setter Tales program and all the people they bring to the table,” said Dave Dourson, Head of Sales and Co-Owner of Kinetic. “Their love of hunting and their passion for high performance dogs make Wade and the rest of the Sweet Point team a perfect fit for Kinetic.”

Setter Tales Program History

In 2014, Wade Kisner and his three sons launched the upland hunting web TV series, Sweet Point’s Setter Tales, a chronicle of daily life with his two English Setters, Sweet Lou and Adeline. This is truly a family project with son, Will, coordinating the camera crew and editing while Tyler and Travis appear on camera and provide hunt day coordination, dog management and story ideas. Using creative camera work, humor and unique story lines, Sweet Point’s Setter Tales hopes to entertain and encourage other families to build their own “Lasting Memories in the Field”. You can view episodes of Setter Tales on their Setter Tails YouTube Channel.

“We couldn’t be happier to bring on Kinetic as our Official Dog Food Sponsor,” added Wade Kisner, owner of Sweet Point Setters and Setter Tales TV. “After having issues with other foods for our very active dogs, we believe in the product having seen first hand how well it works in our kennel.”

About Wade Kisner & Sweet Point Setters

Wade Kisner of Setter Tales TVFor thirty two years Wade Kisner hunted Iowa’s most dangerous criminals before retiring as a special agent for the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation. These days he hunts for fun with his gun dogs. Based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Wade is the owner of Sweet Point Setters where he trains and raises master hunter quality English Setters using them to provide professional upland guiding services. For more information, visit Wade’s website at sweetpointsetters.com.