Dog Behavior: Dog Food - Your Dog is What He Eats

Dog food has come a long, long way. For the most part, gone are the days that we just pick up a bag of dog food when we go to the grocery store to shop for our own vittles. We have become more concerned about what we feed our dogs.

In fact, what got me to thinking about our personal dog’s diet was the change I’ve made in what I eat. I have cut out as much processed foods as I can to improve my diet and I can tell a difference in how I feel (Leila says I’m less cranky). There has even been some weight loss. I then began to think, if better food makes me feel better, the same should be true with our dogs – and I certainly want them to benefit nutritionally as I have. So let’s take a look at the ever-changing world of dog food.


Dog Food


What about dog food has changed? Most of you already know that now, there are better quality brands of dog food on the market that eliminate by-products, cheap carbohydrates, bad fat (yes, there is good and bad fat in dog food), dyes, artificial preservatives, cheap grains and ingredients loaded with sugar to make bad dog food taste good to your dog!

You just have to look on the ingredients list to determine if the dog food you are feeding your beloved companion is a quality food or not. Last year I wrote an article entitled “What You Feed Your Dog: The Good, the Bad and the Colorful” that goes into detail on this.

But here are some other things you may not know about the food you feed your dog.


Let’s talk about proteins. Some proteins run hot, some are cold and some can be considered neutral. The reason I bring this up is that hot proteins like chicken or lamb can sometimes agitate a dog’s central nervous system. Dogs that are prone to being extremely hyper, nervous types might do better on a cooler protein-based dog food like fish, duck or rabbit, which can have a calming effect on them.

One other thing in particular I found out about hot proteins is that they tend to cause inflamed arthritic joints to be hotter on dogs with arthritis and joint problems – like our Sammy. He does better on cooler proteins. We’ve noticed a big difference in Sammy since he’s been on a cooler protein.

It’s bad enough feeding a high energy dog a low-cost dog food chocked full of cheap carbohydrates that convert to sugar, but then add to that a hot protein like chicken – well it could just add fuel to the flames – you get dog behavior problems!

But, listen up. High quality dog foods are not just for dogs that have behavior problems. Different kinds of high quality dog foods can meet the needs for many other dogs with different problems.

Homemade dog food in a bag

Now I know what you’re thinking, “I’m not going to take the time to cook for my dog!”

You don’t have to cook. For example, if your dog has a hard time with processed dog food (regular dry dog food) you might want to think about feeding your dog a food that is made from scratch with whole food.

Its homemade dog food, made easy. Unlike kibble, it has no fillers, no preservatives, and no artificial colors or flavors. Just simple, real ingredients like you’d find in your own kitchen. It’s preserved through dehydration. Just add warm water to re-hydrate this great food and feed your dog!

We are making the change

We are switching our lab Sammy and our 2 little guys, to Sojos, a “made-from-scratch” homemade dog food. We chose a grain free – just as they had been on before with their regular dog food but we decided to add our own meat so we could vary their choices.

You can also get it ready to go-meat included. This is guaranteed to wet the appetite of the most finicky eater.

Sammy, Sophie and Cooper all get a well-balanced meal that we know they like – and it’s easy on his digestive track. And we are finding that the cost is not more expensive. That always helps!

Raw food diet

In addition to the dehydrated, homemade dog food you also have a raw food diet which is supposed to be the healthiest diet of all for your dog. The dogs I know that are on a raw food diet do very well – and there’s hardly any residual clean up in the back yard because nearly all of it is put to use by your dog.

When I first checked out raw food diet for dogs when it was first on the market, I calculated it to be about 40% more expensive and out of my budget range. So I stuck with regular dry food until I found out about Sojos and Honest Kitchen’s homemade dog food preserved through dehydration. (the picture for the article is actually a batch of food I just made up for the dogs.  The meat we used was ground organic turkey.  Sammy kept hoping I would spill some!

The bottom line

You should educate yourself on the best food for your dog. Whether your choice is dry, processed food, homemade and preserved through dehydration or raw food you need to be comfortable with not only how it benefits your dog but the cost and any additional preparation time it will take on your part. Don’t forget to consider that if you board your dog, the raw food has to be kept frozen or refrigerated until fed to your dog.

Closing thoughts

Also remember that your dog is what he eats. Your dog’s behavior could be a direct reflection of what he is being fed.

I would be interested in finding out what you feed your dog and if you would be interested in hearing more about dog food and nutrition and the health of your dog. I welcome your comments.

“Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”

Jim Burwell, professional dog trainer for 25+ years, serving 8700+ clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad.  Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog. 

His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step process so that your dog understands what you expect of him, you empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you empower him to be successful at living in a human home.