Username:

Password:

Forgot Password? / Help

Tag: German Shepherd

Feeding Tips for Working Dogs

This article originally appeared in the March 2018 issue of Schutzhund USA Magazine.

We all know that active working dogs have higher nutritional requirements than the typical house dog. These dogs are athletes with the corresponding caloric requirements that go along with the elevated energy and activity levels. For the high performance dog, though, it’s not only about meeting nutritional requirements. When and how you feed can have a significant impact on the performance level of your working dog. Here are a few key feeding and management tips for hard working dogs.

Feeding Before Work

One of the most frequent discussions to come up with regard to feeding working dogs is how long to before extensive work it’s best to feed your dog. Regardless of how you might view working out yourself on an empty stomach, a dog that has fasted is likely to perform far better than a dog that’s been fed too recently. As dogs will store energy, feeding 6-12 hours before an extended work period is going to give you the best results. This allows for full digestion so your dog can store energy and also helps reduce the risk of physical issues like twist, or bloat.

Feeding After WorkFeeding Working Dogs

Since your dog fasted before work you don’t want to make them fast too long after. You do want to make sure they have a sufficient cooling off period, though, before introducing food after the workout. Water soon after work followed by a 30-60 minute cooling off period should be sufficient for your dog to adjust. After that, feed when they’re ready and make sure to continue to offer plenty of fresh, clean water.

What to Feed

This one is pretty simple. For working dogs, you get the best results by feeding fat at higher levels than you would think is healthy. Optimally, your working dog should be getting a diet with 40-50% of the calories coming from fat. Dogs burn fat far more efficiently than we humans do and you’ll get far more endurance from a high fat diet. They still make use of protein and carbohydrates, but a high fat diet, combined with a fasting period before heavy work, allows your working dog to function at peak efficiency.

It’s also important to note that keeping your dog on a fairly high fat diet year round is likely to shorten the adjustment periods from lower activity needs to higher ones. Basically, feed a performance diet year round even if you need to feed a bit less when the dog isn’t working as hard. Decreasing the fat levels in the diet just to decrease the calories can actually be counterproductive to maintaining the desired fitness level.

Feeding and Management

Feeding a quality food is an essential component of working dog health and performance. It’s what we do here at Kinetic and we’re extremely passionate about it. Still, we recognize that there’s more to a feeding program than just the food. Proper feeding and management practices together can help you get the best performance from your working dogs as well as setting them up for optimal long term health.

January USCA Member Spotlight

This article originally appeared in the January issue of Schutzhund USA Magazine.

Meet USCA Member Holly Geier of Morton, IL

Kinetic Co-Owner, John Howard, had the opportunity to chat with USCA Member, Holly Geier, to talk about the USCA, the sport of Schutzhund and how she sees Kinetic Performance Dog Food working with her dogs.

 

Holly Geier and Covet USCAJohn: So Holly, how long have you been training dogs and what got you into it?

Holly: I got into dog training in about 18 years ago and it was kind of unplanned. My husband was with the Peoria Illinois Police Department and got a dog. I ended up taking over the training because the dog seemed to respond a bit better to a firm training hand. My husband is more of the velvet glove when it comes to dogs so he builds them up while I’m the one to make sure they stay disciplined. It’s a good fit for both of us.

 

John: So is that when you got started with the USCA?

Holly: It is. I actually joined up and had dual memberships with the GSDCA and USCA. You can’t do that anymore but, at the time, the governing body allowed it. Now you have to choose one or the other so we do USCA.

 

John: Can you tell us a little bit about your current USCA club?

Holly: Well we’re getting ready to retire and planning a move to Wisconsin so we’re changing clubs. I’ve already been in contact with a couple of great clubs in the area so we won’t be without one for long. We’re not looking forward to the additional winter but we’re excited about the clubs.

 

John: What training advice would you share with someone just getting started in Schutzhund?

Holly: My favorite advice would be to train for the mistakes because they’ll come. I can’t tell you how often we hear things like “my dog’s never done that before”. I’ve trained dogs to perfection and got to the competition only to have them walk around the A frame and the hurdle and look at me like they’d never seen them before. Even the best dogs have off days so you need to be ready for them.

 

John: I know we first met at the Working Dog Championships in Buffalo, NY and talked about Kinetic but what prompted you to give it a try?

Holly: I just wasn’t satisfied with any of the foods we’d been using. We were constantly having either coat or digestibility issues and most of the foods that had the quality ingredients we liked were very expensive and still had some questionable ingredients we didn’t really care for. When you’re feeding multiple dogs, price has to be at least part of the consideration. With Kinetic, we’re able to get the quality ingredients we want and still hit a price point that works well for us.

 

John: So what can you tell us about the results you’re seeing in your dogs?

Holly: Your dogs are what you feed them and quality nutrition turns into quality work.  We’re really happy with what we’re seeing in all our dogs. In my experience, the coat is a great indicator of the total health of the dog. We’ve also found that coat condition equals mental condition. Our coats are glossy and healthy and look show ready even when they haven’t been bathed in a while. Covet just came into heat and we’re planning to breed so it’s important we’re confident in the food. Kinetic has been a really well rounded and well balanced diet for us and we’re really pleased with the digestibility.

 

We want to thank Holly for taking the time to talk to us and for sharing her feedback on Kinetic. If you’re an active USCA member and have a story to share on how Kinetic is working in your training program, contact Co-Owner Dave Dourson at dave@kineticdogfood.com and tell him your story.

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.