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Tips & Training

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

5 Most Important Obedience Commands for Upland or Waterfowl

A version of this article was originally published by Ryan Eder on in October of 2014.

The best part of the year for the avid bird hunter is when hunting season is just around the corner. If you’re a waterfowl hunter, chances are you have some kind of early season in September for teal or goose. If you’re an upland hunter, you’re just one or two months from chasing roosters in the field. Either way, as bird dog owners we’ve hopefully been training and conditioning our dogs throughout the off-season to keep them in shape and sharp on their skills. I’m not just talking about obvious hunting related skills like finding birds, marking and retrieving. I’m also referring to basic obedience and every day commands that are also extremely important in hunting situations.

Useful Commands for All Hunting Breeds

Depending on the type of hunting you do, and the type of dogs you hunt with, there can be differences in commands and styles. To account for these differences, I’ll do my best to keep this general and applicable to all types and breeds of hunting dogs. With that said, let’s take a look at some of the most important commands you’ll be using in the field with your dog along with a brief explanation of their importance and how to apply them.

Sit Command

More times than not, I’m hunting with a retriever. I tend to be in a duck or goose blind most of the time, so I’m starting off with the “Sit” command. In the blind, one of the hardest things to train a dog to do is sit and be patient. No one likes a dog in the blind that’s constantly moving around, or a dog that’s not steady while birds are being called and hunters are shooting. A dog that sits well in the blind is more enjoyable to hunt with. That dog is also safer since a dog that breaks prematurely can be in the line of shooting. For you upland hunters, sit is still an important command whether you hunt with a pointer or flusher. For a flusher, you may want your dog to sit on a bird flush. For a pointer, even though you don’t want your dog to sit while hunting, having control of your dog in common areas while hunting at clubs or preserves is still pretty important. In my training program, “Sit” is also synonymous with “Stay”. By this I mean once I tell my dog to sit I expect them to remain sitting until released or asked to do something else. This level of control with your dog is critical both in and out of the field.

Whoa, Stop or Stay Command

Ryan Eder RetrieverTo you pointer owners, this command is no stranger. Getting your dog steady on point is a large part of hunting with a pointing breed. The concept of “Stop”, “Stay” or “don’t move” can apply to a number of situations in the field. If you’re hunting with multiple dogs, it’s important for them to honor another point or another dog retrieving a bird. While “Whoa” is not typically a command for this, the concept of “Whoa” is similar. It means “stay where you are, do not move”. This is an extension of the “Sit” command with a flusher or waterfowl dog; “stay where you are” being the message to the dog. There are times where I need my dog to stop and stay, such as when I see him heading for a road or barbed wire fence. Sometimes handlers choose to stop and sit their dog on a whistle, either way, the concept of “Whoa”, “Stop” or “Stay” is incredibly important when handling your dog in hunting situations.

Fetch Command

This is simply a matter of opinion, but my preference in a hunting dog is one that retrieves birds that we shoot in the field. Some people incorporate force fetch in their training program, other people teach “Fetch”, “Hold” and retrieving concepts other ways. Either way, and for obvious reasons, “fetch” or “fetch it up” is something many of us say to our dogs in the field. A dog that doesn’t retrieve well in my opinion can make or break a hunt.

Come or Here Command

Being able to call your dog to you in any situation is important. In fact, this is probably the most important command you’ll teach your dog. It’s the basis of retrieving back to the handler and the ability to call a dog back into range if they’re hunting too far out. Most importantly, this command is a matter of control and safety for your dog in the field. “Come” and “Here” tend to be the most popular commands for this, but many handlers will use a whistle recall as well. This may seem to be a redundant message, but the first time that you have a dog unable to come when called you’ll realize just how important it is.

Kennel Command

Every year I witness someone who wishes they would have tried to teach the kennel command better with their dog. In the home, it is nice to say “Kennel” and have your dog load into their crate without having to lure, push or pull the dog to get them into their crate. The same luxury exists in the field when you want to load the dog into the truck, crate, dog box or trailer after training or hunting. It can be very frustrating to have issues getting your dog loaded into their kennel after a day in the field. If you’re at a gun club or hunt test, or even just a field with hunting friends, it can be embarrassing having a dog that won’t follow this basic command. Make sure to work with your dog on this, and make sure they understand to load quickly, safely and on demand.

Practice at Home for Success in the Field

The basic commands covered in this article are just that. They’re the basics and the minimum standard you should accept from your hunting dog. Most of you probably have them covered and use them every day with your dog. Still, I do recommend practicing them and making sure the dog is sharp so that when hunting season rolls around you don’t encounter any unnecessary issues. Good luck to everyone this fall and happy training!


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,

Feeding Working Stock Dogs

Fuel for Working Kelpies

This is a pretty cool video of some stock dogs fueled by Kinetic at work in the field. These dogs burn a lot of energy and definitely benefit from a high energy, high performance diet.

Thanks to our friends from the Lazy Y Cattle Company in southwest Nebraska for the video. We love to see working dogs doing what they were born to do!

Why Performance Dogs Need Performance Food

Food for the Performance Dog

We love our dogs. Sometimes we love our dogs as much, or more, as some of the people in our lives. They’re our loyal companions in the house, in the field and on the trail. We even treat them like family members and that’s OK. Except when it comes to nutrition.

Performance Dogs Are Different

Our working and sporting dogs aren’t like people when it comes to their dietary needs. They’re not even really like other dogs. Their bodies perform differently and they need to be fueled differently because they’re not normal dogs. They’re performance dogs. They’re the athletes of the canine world and their nutrition program needs to reflect that.

Performance Food Must Be Different

There are a number of significant differences in the dietary needs of performance dogs but most of them really fall into to two major categories. First, they burn a lot of energy so they need a lot of calories. Second, they’re under a lot of stress, both mental and physical, so they need food that accommodates that.

Providing the Energy

Performance Dog Food NutrientsTo provide the appropriate energy, it’s important to create the proper balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates to deliver energy over an appropriate duration. This means using the right kinds of ingredients in addition to the right amounts.

  • Higher levels of protein in bio-available forms are necessary to support muscle building and recovery but need to be delivered in a way that’s digestible without excess volume. Without a doubt, the best bio-available forms of protein for a dog are animal based proteins and that means meat, fish and egg sources.
  • Dogs that are extremely active for hours at a time benefit from increased levels of fat in their diets because it metabolizes slower and provides energy for endurance. Fat works for performance dogs similar to the way carbs work for human endurance athletes.
  • Carbohydrates must be provided in such a way to provide energy without burning too quickly and without adding too much or the wrong kind of fiber. Carbs are a nice way to put some body cover on a dog or provide a quick burst of energy. For extended activity, though, carbohydrates should not be a primary source of calories your performance dog.

Managing the Stress

This refers to both mental and physical stress because, in dogs, even the mental stress manifests itself as obvious physical effects. Stress in a canine athlete is compounded by the fact that the effects of stress on digestion make it difficult to replenish nutrients lost during extreme activity. This means a performance dog food must provide essential nutrients to replenish and recover while at the same time support optimal digestive health to enable nutrient absorption.

  • Vitamins and trace minerals must be delivered in concentrated forms and at higher levels on certain nutrients than are generally recommended or required for less active animals.
  • Prebiotics and probiotics can be introduced to support the growth of good bacteria and provide a healthy and productive gut environment.
  • Fiber sources must be limited to only those of suitable solubility and with fermentation rates that won’t disrupt proper digestion and nutrient absorption or loosen stools.

Put Away the Nuts and Berries

Many current trends in dog food include the introduction of non-traditional ingredients resulting from the “humanization” of our views on our dogs. While these ingredients often provide very limited value to the typical companion dog, they also don’t cause any apparent harm due to low activity and stress levels. For the performance dog, though, the introduction of non-traditional protein, fat, carbohydrate and fiber sources can have an adverse and counter-productive effect on both the performance and the overall health of the dog. Remember that, while dogs aren’t true carnivores, they don’t gain nearly the same nutritional benefits from many fruits, vegetables and grains as their human counterparts. Feed them like the canine athletes they are and they’ll respond in ways that make it obvious you made the right decision.