There are plenty of reasons to find a new food for your pup — anything from a shift in their activity level to a recommendation from your vet about managing their weight can prompt a change. Even something as simple as getting older is a good reason to consider switching foods — growing out of puppy-friendly food or transitioning to food designed for mature dogs. Making sure your dog has the right nutrition for their particular needs is all part of being a caring pet parent, and sometimes that means making a change! But how do you make that change in a dog-friendly way?
Changing your dog’s diet takes some planning. Because they’re creatures of habit, dogs tend to prefer their current food to any new food, often just because it’s familiar. By learning how to switch dog foods gradually you can take the guesswork out of the process and make it a much more comfortable transition for your dog (and for you)!
How to Switch Dog Foods Successfully:
1. Introduce the New Food Gradually
When easing your dog into a different diet, think “slow and steady,” whether they’re hesitant about the change or already love the new flavor! Start by mixing 25% new food with 75% current food. Slowly change the proportions over the next three days or so by gradually increasing the new food and decreasing the amount of the current food.
During this transition, your dog may want to eat only the old and familiar food, or they might choose not to eat at all. Don’t worry — a healthy dog can miss meals for a day or so with no ill effects. But of course, if you are concerned, your vet is just a phone call away and is sure to have good advice. At the end of this weaning process, you should be feeding your dog the new food 100% of the time.
Here’s a sample feeding schedule:
- Day 1: 25% new food, 75% current food
- Day 2: 50% new food, 50% current food
- Day 3: 75% new food, 25% current food
- Day 4: 100% new food
2. Keep Your Body Language Positive
Bringing home a strange new food, dumping it into your dog’s bowl and demanding that they eat it might inspire your dog to go on a hunger strike. It’s a much better idea to introduce the new food by using a kind tone of voice and encouraging body language — affectionately coaxing them to try the new food can help more than you think.
3. Don't Give Up!
Persistence is key. For the first two days of the food shift, resist the urge to give your dog the excess treats they may be begging for. Giving in to their demands during the transition can inadvertently reinforce their refusal behavior and make the change much more difficult for you both. Dogs train us as much as we train them: Don’t give up on helping them make this transition!
4. Be Patient When Switching from Wet Food to Dry Food
Switching diets may be more challenging when you’re moving your dog from a wet food to a dry food. If your dog continues to resist eating dry food, try mixing in a little warm water. You might even want to put the moistened food in the microwave for a few seconds (always check that it’s not too hot before feeding time).
If you do mix dry food with water, be sure to throw away the uneaten portion after 20 minutes to prevent spoilage (the same rule that applies for wet canned and pouch food). After they get used to the taste of the hand-moistened food, you can transition them to completely dry food with the same mixing instructions outlined above.
There are lots of specific reasons to change your dog’s diet, but the No. 1 reason is to take care of them and help them feel their best. As always, it’s a good idea to talk to your vet before changing your dog’s diet, because their professional opinion can help you understand your dog’s unique needs. The more you know about your dog’s nutritional needs and the ingredients in your dog’s food, the easier it’ll be to find the tastiest, healthiest food for your dog!
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For some dogs, a simple fence isn’t enough to keep them in the yard. Maybe you’ve got a little escape artist that’s too smart for their own good. Maybe you’re raising a brave explorer who loves to get lost. Or maybe you’ve been unlucky enough to have your dog stolen from their own backyard. Creating a safe and secure space to keep your pet can be a challenge, but we’re here to help. Understanding the common reasons dogs get out and what you can do to prevent it from happening goes a long way toward keeping your furry friend safe.
Why Does Your Dog Want to Escape?
Securing your yard starts with understanding the impulses that drive your dog to see what’s beyond your property. Spaying or neutering is an important first step in curbing a dog’s desire to roam, but there may be other factors at play. Creating a safe yard for a lonely Labrador in search of a friend is an entirely different exercise than securing a burrow-happy beagle on the hunt for a squirrel. We’d recommend trying to learn as much as you can about your dog’s breed and underlying instincts. The most common reasons dogs try to escape are:
- Feeling socially isolated
- Lack of stimulation (think toys)
- Desire to escape something that scares them, like thunder
Countering these behaviors starts with understanding which one is at the heart of your dog’s desire to break free. Once you’ve got a theory of what’s motivating your pup, it’s time to give your safety measures a second look.
How to Keep Your Dog Safe and Secure in Your Yard
Microchip Your Dog and Scan Their Nose
If your dog is committed to getting out, your most useful tool will be the ability to track and locate them wherever they’re found. There are a huge variety of products and services designed to help you keep your dog safe, but the most important thing you can have is a plan. You’ve most likely heard of GPS tracking chips that can be implanted in your pet, but you may not know that you can also scan their nose. Through a new app called NOSEiD, you can capture your dog’s unique nose print, which will give whoever finds them a faster, simpler way of reuniting the two of you. It’s that easy! Just download the app, call your pup over and start scanning.
The Best Defense Is a Good … Fence
Even though they’re not technologically impressive, a sturdy wooden or metal fence still plays an important part in protecting your dog while they’re in your yard. Not only does it keep your dog from wandering, it also keeps unwanted animals and people away from your dog’s space. If your dog can leap over it, you’ll obviously need to raise the height, or you can add an overhang that makes it harder to clear. You might also consider planting some shrubs along the inside of the fence to discourage jumping. If your dog is burrowing beneath your fence, consider adding a barrier beneath it or putting a bumper collar on them, which makes it harder to squeeze into small spaces.
If you have a particularly territorial dog, you may want to cover any open spots in your fence that your dog might spy adversaries through. A solid fence may help them feel safe and diminish their need to patrol their surroundings.
When it comes to electric fences, using one successfully depends on your dog’s personality. If your dog has recently been ignoring the electric fence, you may want to consider retraining them or investing in a physical barrier.
Make “Yard” Mean “Yay!”
Making your yard a dog-friendly and entertaining space is a huge part of keeping your dog safe at home. With enough toys, space to burn energy and ideally a friend to play with, your dog won’t have any reason to see if the grass is greener elsewhere. A few popular dog-pleasers you may want to provide are:
- A bit of shelter or shade
- A source of water
- A rotating lineup of toys
- Their favorite playmate (you)
Use Your Yard Wisely
Last, but not least, if you leave your dog unattended for a long period of time in your yard, there’s a good chance they will get bored and look for a way to burn off some energy. To prevent them from getting mischievous, limit the amount of time they’re out on their own, and check in frequently. Also, for dogs with separation anxiety or that may be afraid of loud noises, your presence will help keep them calm and close to home.
With your dog chipped or their nose scanned, you’ll always have an option in the event that your dog strikes out on their own. Beyond that, understand what makes your dog unique and check your yard’s safety features regularly for holes or weak points. As usual, a little preparation now can save you a ton of time and energy in the long run.
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