Feeding Your Personal Protection Dog
This article isn’t really about “what” to feed your new protection dog. It’s about other stuff like variety, how much and when? Also, we’re talking about a full grown personal protection dog and not a puppy.
The first thing I learned on my first trip to the vet with my new dog was that German Shepherds have relatively sensitive GI (Gastro Intestinal) tracts. I didn’t know this. The other kind of dog sold on this site . . . the Belgian Malinois is about the same.
This sounds bad doesn’t it? You may think these dogs will be troublesome, but actually it makes things easier on you. When I was studying all about the feeding of dogs, many sites talk about “variety”. They say that just like humans, dogs get bored with what they are eating and that giving them a variety is good.
My vet did not agree. She said that since their systems are sensitive, once you see what works and produces proper stool (another article for another day), you could just feed the same exact thing over and over. She said to forget about variety so long as the dog is getting all the proper nutrients. You can always give supplements to make sure the dog is getting all the vitamins and minerals it needs.
Also, when transitioning from one dog food to another do it gradually to give the dog’s system a chance to adjust.
How Much Should You Feed Your Personal Protection Dog?
The first question in this section is how much continuing training or trick training are you doing that is using food rewards? The total amount of treats should be subtracted from the overall amount of food your dog should have in a day. Let’s say your dog is supposed to have a total of one and one half pounds of food in a day. Let’s also say, you did lots of trick training and gave him a quarter pound of hot dogs on a particular day. You would subtract a quarter pound from one and one half pounds and feed the dog one and a quarter pounds of regular food. If you didn’t subtract the food rewards from the total, you are on your way to creating an overweight protection dog, so don’t do it.
NOTE: One quick rule of thumb is that you should be able to feel your dog’s ribs easily. If you can’t, he’s overweight.
In some cases when a dog is in heavy food based reward training, the dog’s entire meal is fed during the training. In that case the dog better really like his normal food or you won’t get much training done. The food better be really easy and fast to eat too, or you will lose the dogs attention to the task he is trying to learn if he has to chew on the food for a long time before resuming training.
Something interesting I learned is that percentage wise large dogs need less food per pound of body weight than small breed dogs. This will apply to your personal protection dog because he / she is most likely a big dog. You won’t deter too many bad guys with a little foofie dog.
You also must take into consideration the amount of exercise your dog gets on a daily basis. If he/she only gets a short walk each morning and evening before and after your work, you must use the low end of any feeding recommendations. If your dog is with you all day and gets to play and run from morning till night, you can up the food intake, but always monitor the dog’s weight over time to see if you are over or underfeeding.
A decent rule of thumb to start with for your adult personal protection dog is to feed 2% to 3% of the dog’s body weight per day. Then monitor the dog’s weight. Many pet stores that also have a vet attached to them have a weight scale you can just walk your dog up on and read his weight from a digital display. Make sure you do this about the same time during the day with the same leash and collar on each time. Do it once a week for a month and see if your dog’s weight is increasing, decreasing or staying the same and then adjust your feeding accordingly.
Click here to see when to feed your dog and learn about the dangerous condition of “Bloat”