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Rab Chats Dug Behaviour with Canine Behaviour Expert, Theo Stewart

Posted by ROBERT MACLEOD on
dog-behaviour-with-canine-expert-theo-stewart

At McDug Nutrition, we’re all about great dog nutrition as part of a balanced and happy life for our canine pals. So when we got the chance to have a chat with experienced Canine Behaviour Expert, Theo Stewart, we jumped at the opportunity to share her invaluable insights with all of you. 

Theo has many years of experience as a dog trainer and has witnessed the recent surge in a new way of training and behavioural support for our fluffy pals. 

What did we talk about? Here’s a little recap:

Wolf Pack Theory / Alpha Training

Where once we were encouraged to assert our “alpha” behaviours and get the dog to submit to us, now there’s a movement to support more natural canine behaviour to give them an enriched life. 

In our chat, Theo explained,

Back then we taught dogs by getting them to avoid something they didn’t like. You know, a choke chain, if the dog was going to pull on the lead, you give a jerk on the choke chain and yell ‘heel!’ You’re using force, really, to do it. This thing about [being] alpha, it’s been totally disproved. It was taken from Wolf Pack Theory, and even the person who actually thought of it has said that he was wrong.” 

Here at McDug, we’ve heard about Wolf Pack Theory a lot from a nutritional standpoint. Many people believe that dogs are more like their wolf counterparts than they really are. And that the domestic dog should be fed like a wolf. 

wolf-pack-theory-alpha-training-dog-behaviour

In reality, the modern domestic canine has evolved and grown in a similar way to the way humans have.

What does that mean for nutrition? It means your canine pal is an omnivore rather than being a carnivore, and they need a balanced, nutritious diet in a similar way to us. 

Behavioural issues surrounding food

Theo sees many clients who have dogs with food behavioural issues, and we know this is a worry for some of our customers, too. 

So how can we use food to support happy and healthy behaviours? 

Theo explains it’s very much depending on the issue, but food plays a massive role in promoting a positive psychological state for our dogs. 

A dog is naturally predisposed to hunting and foraging for food. And while we can’t replicate that exactly, we can make the eating ritual more fulfilling with a few simple techniques:

  • Use a kong to encourage your dog to work to get their food. Not simply reserved for treats, mixing some McDug dry kibble into a kong will make for a tasty mealtime while boosting your dog’s mood.
  • Remove too many unnecessary requirements before your dog can get their food i.e. rolling over, high-fiving, giving paws etc. These are unnatural behaviours for a dog and not something they would do if naturally foraging or hunting.
  • Instead of just providing 2 meals a day, space their meal times out throughout the day in a mix of methods from kongs, to hiding it in a snuffle mat. 

The above all comes down to one essential thing: enrichment for your dog. 

In order for us to be happy, balanced and well-rounded individuals, we need a variety of things to stimulate and challenge us. 

The same goes for our dogs. 

Ask yourself, “what would a dog naturally do”? 

And where possible, implement that. 

Rab-Chats-To-Dog-Behavioural-Expert-Theo-Stewart

We had a great time chatting with Theo, and if you want to learn more about what she does and her work, you can find her over at www.dogidog.co.uk 

You can also watch the full recording over on our Facebook Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/428000365183426) - make sure to join if you haven’t already, we share loads of tips and info over there and would love for you to join us. 

Here at McDug, we’re going to be trying some of these great techniques Theo has shared with us to bring a bit of variety and fun into feeding time for Bruce. 

What techniques can you try with your four-legged pal? 

Let us know in the comments below,

Rab

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