Twinkies in class
The teacher gives the students a note to take home to their parents/legal guardians:
“We will be practicing reward based learning in class tomorrow. We will give out twinkies for correct answers. Because we want your child to be highly motivated to learn, please be sure he/she does not eat breakfast before coming to school. Also be sure to reduce the size of her/his dinner accordingly. We will be giving out lots of twinkies and we don’t want your child to gain weight while learning.”
A little far-fetched no? Then why do we practice this same procedure when training our pets? Those who have attended a formal training class know that I’m talking about. The instructor tells you (rightfully so) to reduce your dog’s regular kibble so he/she doesn’t gain weight and to not feed your dog before class so he/she will be hungry and willing to learn. Great advice. But one thing we need to look out for is what we feed our dogs during training. You don’t want to replace his healthy at-home meal with treats that are laced with sugar, preservatives, artificial coloring etc..
Pet parents are lucky because a lot of things that dogs love are actually good for them – unlike human kids.
I’m actually very lucky (with one of my dogs at least). Matt-Matt will take anything I hand him – even in a highly distracting environment. He is happy to take his own kibble from me, vegetables, fruit etc.. He is even happier to take freeze dried fish, baked chicken, or a grilled sirloin.
Take a good look at that supermarket or pet store treat that you are feeding your dog. Dogs do not need honey, sugar or salt to make something taste better. If manufacturers have these items in the food it probably means that it has been so highly processed that all the real flavor is gone. Not only are these snacks physiologically unhealthy, they can also have an effect on your pets mental well being. Do you feel better or worse after eating a carb heavy or sugar heavy snack? Your dog might have the same issues.
And what’s the deal with the artificial colors? Does your dog really care if that sugar filled snack has the same color as bacon?
So, you’ve made the decision to carefully review your dog’s treat labels. While you are at it, go ahead and take a good long look at the ingredients in your dog’s everyday kibble. Don’t just look at the wholesome pictures of fresh meat, fruits and veggies on the package.
A great unbiased dog food review site is http://www.dogfoodanalysis.com/
You can click on Index at the bottom of the page to see a list of food reviewed: http://www.dogfoodanalysis.com/dog-food-index-a.html
Or click reviews to search for your dog food: http://www.dogfoodanalysis.com/dog_food_reviews/
A good friend recommended this book to me: http://www.amazon.com/Pitcairns-Complete-Guide-Natural-Health/dp/157954973X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1299542849&sr=1-1
Dr. Pitcairn’s New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats
I’ve only read the first couple of chapters. I’m not endorsing or opposing anything in the book.