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Monthly Archives

December 2016

Alpha Feeds training treats

New Alpha Training Treats

By | Alpha Feeds | No Comments

Alpha Feeds has launched new Training Treats which are hypo-allergenic and wheat gluten free.

The Alpha Training Treats include chicken liver and they are suitable for all dogs over eight weeks old.

These healthy bites are free from artificial additives and are a tasty treat for dogs that deserve a reward whether on a puppy training routine, as encouragement for good behaviour or when working, sporting dogs are learning a new activity.

RRP £1.00 for 150g.

For further information contact Alpha Feeds on 0844 800 2234 or visit www.alphafeeds.com

husky sport

Husky Racing an Exciting Sport

By | Alpha Feeds | No Comments

A world away from the desolate icy wastelands of Siberia, husky dog racing is alive and well in the rather incongruous setting of the British countryside. Now in its twentieth season, the British Siberian Husky Racing Association was formed by a group of Britain’s leading Sled Dog Drivers in 1996. The rules are stringent; every race is electronically timed to 1/100th of a second and believe it or not, after 5 miles, a race has been decided by 5/100th of a second – here we find out more.

In sled dog racing, men and women can compete on an equal footing, and no matter who is racing, this is fantastic entertainment, for both competitor and spectator. The sport is growing, numbers are increasing and there is a thriving junior competition each year.

Training of young dogs starts at an early age over short distances. When a dog reaches one-year-old, it is allowed to compete in races. A regular training programme is essential for success – in the winter season sometimes four times a week for competitive teams. However, one of the biggest challenges continues to be finding suitable trails in Britain. Husky dogs have been constructed to work and their build is designed to cover as much ground, expend the least energy and suffer the least physical shock and stress as possible.

The design of racing sleds today is very similar to those used in the early days, although modern materials have more or less replaced traditional wood. With this, weight has changed too, from around 50kg for a 4-dog team to some now weighing as little as 15kgs, mild and stainless steel being the preferred materials.

Each dog in the team wears an individually-fitted harness, with attention to comfort around the neck and shoulders. The dogs are hitched to the sled by a central rope known as the ‘gang line’, then with brass clips, the dogs are attached into the lines. Teams are divided into classes based on the number of dogs in the team.

Before the start of the race, it’s highly enjoyable to walk around the rally site. Here you can watch mushers getting their teams ready to run. If time permits, most people love to talk about their dogs, but they have to keep a strict eye on the time as they have specific set times to present at the Start Chute. Each team is released at timed intervals.

Excitement levels are high. The Start Chute is noisy and hectic, but seeing the enthusiasm and eagerness of teams of dogs straining to start the race is an absolute must. The finish line is noisy too but by the end of the race, it’s no longer the huskies making all the noise, but excited family and friends cheering and encouraging their favourite teams across the line. In between the start and finish, out on the trail itself, it is important that spectators stand well back so they don’t alarm the passing teams with any sudden movement. There are marshals at regular intervals along the trails and it is imperative that spectators listen to any instructions they give.

To get the best results from these dogs, not only is training important but the correct diet is essential. Feeding depends very much on the level of exercise but a husky that is working in harness does well on a diet such as Alpha High Performance where meat is the first ingredient and there is the right protein/fat ratio. It is important to store food safely though, to avoid dangerous bingeing, as given the chance, huskies would eat at least five times a day by helping themselves!

Owning a Husky – The Highs and Lows

By | Dog Welfare | No Comments

Ever wondered about the husky dog? Want to know the ins and outs of what it is like to own this athletic breed? Here Mel Hannam, owner, trainer and dog sled competitor sponsored by performance dog food experts Alpha Feeds tells us all about this magnificent dog.

What is it about these dogs that make them supreme athletes?

A husky has been constructed to work i.e. to pull and run. This makes them perfect sled dogs as their build is a set of angles, bone lengths, musculature designed to cover as much ground, expend the least energy and suffer the least physical shock and stress as possible.

The dogs are also very good at resting between periods of work, especially where there is a sofa or bed involved.

What temperament does a husky have?

Their temperament all depends on what mood they are in. They are genuinely stubborn, independent and delightfully mercurial. One minute they can be a snuggly dog then the next day change to an aloof semi feral dog. They might not come in from the yard when called but they will give you hell for daring to go in the shower leaving them downstairs alone. Selectively deaf and selectively food oriented, they tend to do very much as they please whether it pleases you or not.

Huskies can be predatory and may not be best suited with smaller animals like cats. When bored they can entertain themselves, but this could mean that your personal possessions will be in the firing line of being chewed or hidden under ground.

Are they good with other dogs?

Canine company is important because the breed is a sociable animal, however the friend will need to be able to cope with the size, strength and very physical play of a husky. This can be because huskies have a dense coat and in play tend to grab each other quite firmly by the scruff of the neck. To other smaller dogs this can be too much and can risk possible injury.

Generally the huskies body language is forthright and ears pricked up right can be perceived as full-on or aggressive behaviour to other dogs. This is important to consider when you are introducing new dogs.

How much exercise does the dog need?

Because they are sled dogs they need the opportunity to run and pull. This does not mean you need to buy a sled, an easier way is to get them to pull you on a bike or scooter.

Some huskies enjoy regular walks; however they will pull on the lead. Please do not get frustrated with them because sled dogs have pulled for centuries and it is just what they do.

If you want to let the dog run free it will need to be within a secure location, including a high fence which they can also not dig under. You will need to be patient with them when you want them to come back. If they were pulling a sled the musher shouts commands and the dog runs away, not towards you, this is how they have been trained.

Can they be hard to train?

Yes and no. It is easy to train them to be sled dogs because that is what they are hard wired to do, but you will never be able to train one to be like a Border Collie.

Recall and being reliable enough to run freely will probably never be one of the dogs’ strongest points.

Similarly like other dogs, it is very easy to train them to be naughty – bad behaviour is always more easily reinforced than good unfortunately!

Are there any special requirements this breed needs?

Huskies hate to be on their own so company is extremely important. If they cannot have constant attention from their owners a canine companion that can cope with the breed is important to supply their need for attention.

For any dog exercise is important, but for the husky it needs to be more around allowing the dog to run and pull.

What will owners find difficult with this breed and how can they overcome this?

Owners must realise that northern breeds are traditionally stubborn, but the difference between huskies and many other more domesticated breeds is you almost have to earn their love and respect. They are intelligent and not a breed you can exercise just by throwing a ball. The dog requires a lot of attention and needs to be exercised properly.

What feeding regime does the dog require?

Feeding depends very much on the level of exercise but a husky that is working in harness does well on a diet such as Alpha High Performance where meat is the first ingredient and there is the right protein/fat ratio. My dogs also appreciate added meat or fish.

I feed my dogs twice a day, but if they had the chance they would choose to be fed at least five times a day by helping themselves if the chance arises. Food needs to be stored safely to avoid dangerous bingeing.

For more information visit: www.alphafeeds.com or call: +44 (0)844 800 2234


For further information please contact Tim Smith at TSM on (01724) 784600.


Blink and you miss it…!

By | Alpha Feeds | No Comments

This season has just been a blur; time flies when you’re having fun.
We started off so well, a beautifully ‘almost’ chilly day, welcomed all the BSHRA competitors to the kick-off race near the Suffolk Heritage coast. A very technical trail with dips and hollows and tight corners, adverse cambers, leaves on the ground – all the good things to keep the dogs interested and keep the mushers on their toes!

*BANG* in comes Storm Angus from the East, the first ‘named’ storm of the season, 84mph winds battering the coast and throwing down rain like no-ones business which sadly saw us cancel the seconds days racing – a total pain but safety comes first.
Since then, we’ve recently had THE best bit of weather for running dogs in this country. At Warren Wood. The 8 dog and 6 dog teams went out in bright sunshine, uncluttered blue sky, a real hard hoar frost on the ground and a recorded -9C. Whilst everyone around is complaining at the cold, if you’re a husky racer, THIS is what running dogs is all about. A big team running like a steam locomotive with just the sound of the team puffing away, every breath hanging in the cold air for a second or so until it evaporates – just magical!

And so to the next weekend we have in store. The first time that BSHRA has ever scheduled a 3 day event – most are 2 days. Even more exciting is the prospect of 3 different trails, one per day. We usually run the same trail on both days but hey, in for a penny, in for a pound.
It will take a fairly large and enthusiastic team to pull it off successfully but I’m safe in the knowledge that if anyone can, BSHRA can. Wish us luck and cold weather; I’m sure we’ll be fine!

Photos courtesy of the very talented Angela Lord


Training the Gun Dog with Phil Wagland

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Phil Wagland is well known throughout the gun dog world as a trainer and competitor, also organising and running events for the North Midland Area of the United Retriever Club. Here courtesy of sponsor performance dog food experts Alpha Feeds, Phil provides valuable tips on training the gun dog.

What breeds do you recommend for a gun dog?

It is very much down to personal preference and the objective and end result of having a dog. Owners should ask themselves; is it a shooting dog, a picking up dog or a beater that I need? Also consider whether test or trial competitions would be involved.

There are four sub-groups which are most admired: Pointers and Setters, Spaniels, HPRs and Retrievers. Within these groups there are one or two key breeds which have proven ability. The other minority breeds can be quite variable in their success rates.

Recently people like to be different and go for the minority breeds to stand out, but the safest option is to go for the key breeds of proven ability. The main breed I work with is the Labrador, followed by the Golden Retriever. The minority breeds in this group include: the Flat-coated Retriever, the Chesapeake and one of the rarest in the group is the Curly-coated Retriever.

What do you look for in terms of character, temperament?

Character will vary with the different breeds. Depending on whether you want a quiet or lively dog will help you make your decision while you also need to consider the living arrangements (home or kennel). Will the dog be on its own or with several other dogs and will there be children around – these are all questions you need to ask.

Good temperament is always a prime concern which means a dog being able to live with people and other dogs in a friendly way.

Trainability is another aspect of the dogs’ character which should be valued; therefore emphasis must be on the working lines of the breed. For Labrador, Golden Retriever, Springer or Cocker Spaniel it is essential to go to the blood lines of the working dogs, not a pedigree which has a history of competing in the world of showing.

Where would you normally source a gun dog puppy?

The best advice I can give is to know the owner of the bitch and see the dog in both play and working scenarios. Knowledge of the dog used at the stud would also be advantageous.

It can also be useful to watch a dog at a shoot or trial as this will allow you to see how the owner/handler works and if they treat and train the dog in a way that you approve of.

If you are unable to do the above the next best tip is to contact someone associated with the breed, possibly through a gun dog training club. A personal approach will usually be better than just using the internet or a Kennel Club list. Newspaper and websites are ill-advised because they may lead to puppy farms.

What age would you recommend starting training?

The training starts with the mother of the puppies at the early stages. From eight weeks on, owners should teach the basics like: simple obedience when giving food, being put in a cage, visiting a vet etc. These are all valuable experiences for the dog and helps aid your bond with the puppy.

At three months of age the puppy should be getting over its injections and lead training can be integrated. Your lead training can include pavement walks to get the puppy used to meeting people and cars. Countryside walks will also help achieve appropriate behaviour.

Obedience or good citizen training at four-months-old will help acclimatise your dog to meeting other dogs and people as well and this is another part of the training I would encourage.

Some simple gun dog training should to be introduced at six-months-old (not rushing too much into retrieving) and then end by attending a gun dog training class or club. The first couple of weeks will be more for socialisation and emphasis on basic obedience.

What are the First 5 Steps to Starting Training?

  1. Seek help or advice if an owner is unsure on where to start. Equipment to start with would be a lead and a whistle.
  2. Keeping the dog’s relationship strong to you. Avoid circumstances that could hinder your bond with your dog.
  3. Spend time on the basics. There is no need to rush because if you do, it could undo your hard work on the basics.
  4. Learn to read your dog. Understand what its strengths and weaknesses are to be able to draw out the natural working dog which is the secret to success.
  5. Make the training fun! Your dog should enjoy the training and working together.

Where should they be in their progress by six months?

At six months a young gun dog should just about have the basics mastered but they may still be liable to make a few mistakes. They should still be able to play like a puppy on occasions and it is important that owners realise dogs vary in their learning pattern with some slow and some quick learners.


Where should they be after their first year?

The basics of obedience, heeling smartly and being steady should be mastered by this age.

Retrievers in particular will be competent at marking seen dummies, simple blind retrieves and pick up and deliver game or dummies. In competitions they will be able to compete in Puppy Gundog Working Tests, which are designed for dogs up to 18-months-old.

Novice Tests will come after the year due to them not being ready for the field trials at that age. If owners do take a young dog picking-up or shooting, make sure it is under controlled conditions.

Do you know in the early days if you have a potential Field Trial Champion?

Experienced trainers can see potential, but it has happened in cases where it doesn’t come through. Slow developers sometimes have proved to be better than the early starter given time.

How do you keep the young dog keen and willing to learn?

Changing locations, different ground, water, obstacles, different cover all help in keeping the training fun and different. This not only heightens their senses but keeps the dogs interest up.

Training with a group of friends can also help you as an owner by taking on ideas and advice.

If things do go wrong in a training hour, simplify the task, reattempt and go back to basics or call it a day with playtime, love and affection. Go back to it another day avoiding the same mistake.

When it comes to health and vitality what food do you recommend?

We are very fortunate to have sponsorship from Alpha Feeds and the dogs always look fantastic.

Alpha Sensitive Extra with duck and rice is nutritionally formulated to meet the needs of adult dogs with a sensitive digestive system.

Hypo-allergenic and wheat gluten free, the feed also contains Fish Meal and Linseed to provide essential Omega 3 Oils which aid a healthy skin and coat.

With no artificial colours or flavours added and prebiotics to help promote digestive health, dogs really thrive on the food.

The protein level is 25%, making it highly suitable for hard working dogs with delicate digestive systems.

For further information visit www.alphafeeds.com


For further information please contact Tim Smith at TSM on (01724) 784600.

Selecting the Correct Level of Protein for Your Dog

By | Nutrition | No Comments

When looking to choose the right diet for your dog it is important to look at their lifestyle, activity rate, size, breed and age.

Taking all this into consideration you will then need to think about the protein levels in their food to ensure they are getting the correct level to keep them fit, well and in optimum health.

The range from Alpha Feeds includes diets for dogs at rest, those in work, and those competing and performing at the highest level.

There are many different breeds of dog and all have different purposes or lifestyles, as an owner you should feel confident in what you are feeding your dog.

The Alpha Feeds range offers complete nutritional excellence and delivers great taste and performance for your favourite friend.

For the dog that requires a food to help enhance stamina for sustained physical effort and demanding challenges such as sled dogs, grey hounds, emergency rescue, hunting and sheep dogs, Alpha High Performance is the perfect choice.

Offering 32% protein the diet provides consistent high levels of energy and is nutritionally formulated to help promote muscle development.

Alpha also offers a selection of food for working dogs such as gundogs, sheep dogs and agility dogs. These types require a balanced food with enough energy to perform at their best. Alpha Adult Maintenance – Sporting Dog provides 22% protein to fuel their energy levels while maintaining a healthy coat and immune system.

A complete and balanced food for less active dogs is available thanks to Alpha Sensitive. With 20% protein senior and working dogs at rest will benefit from this food which optimises digestive health, skin and coat condition, teeth and bones and overall wellbeing.

Alpha Feeds offers a 10-strong range of food to give your dog the very best nutrition whatever their lifestyle.

For more further information contact the helpline on 0844 800 2234 or visit www.alphafeeds.com


For further information please contact Tim Smith at TSM on (01724) 784600.

Feeding the Working Sheep Dog

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Kelpies are fast becoming a worthy choice for the working life of a sheep dog. Kevin Lyndhurst a well-known Kelpie breeder and trainer sponsored by Alpha Feeds, sheds’ some light on this Australian breed and tells’ us why they are such fantastic dogs.

What qualities make a good Kelpie?

In a nutshell it is down to good and proven bloodlines, intelligence and physical ability.

The Kelpie has the capability to muster sheep or cattle without being guided or commanded. This is why intelligence is key because they need to be forward thinkers.

Known for their signature move of jumping onto the backs of sheep to get to the cause of the jam when in single file, the Kelpie needs to be agile.

What exercise regime is best put in place for a Kelpie?

This depends on the amount of work the dog is currently doing. If they are working with sheep, the dogs will be put to the test a lot during the summer periods. Winter will be quieter unless you have sheep that are not breeding so the dog will be working all year round. The exercise programme should be based around your dogs’ level of work.

What dogs do you currently have?

I currently have nine Australian Kelpies but in the future I will have a few litters’ puppies on the way which I am very excited about.

What is your routine with them?

I do have my dogs out a lot and constantly feed their intuition by keeping them active. They are all kept in kennels outside, so in the morning I let them out for some exercise and a walk.

I currently don’t have any sheep, but if I do the dogs will be working with the sheep during the day.

At the moment during the week, I take them all with me to work so they are out and about. In the evening I take them for a walk sometimes with my mountain bike before turning in for the night.

Which dog is your top one at the moment?

I wouldn’t pick a favourite. There isn’t one that I dislike more than all the rest and there isn’t one I would say is better. They are all genuinely great all round dogs who are enormously intelligent and I have so much admiration for the breed.

Any future plans?

I am obviously looking forward to the puppies coming and I will carry on with the breeding programme. I believe the pedigrees are so important and I used to import from Australia, but now there is no need to because I have new bloodlines.

I will carry on working my dogs and also continue with my teaching ranging from basics to advanced level and cover all aspects from field to farm.

What do working Kelpies or Sheep Dogs need from their food?

There should be two main objectives when supplying them with food. One is to keep your dog healthy and the other is to have the correct levels of protein which will give your sheep dog the energy it needs to work.

Alpha Feeds offer a great range of kibble which is nutritionally balanced and formulated for health and vitality. I feed Alpha Junior & Active and for the young ones Alpha Sporting Puppy which ensure they get everything they need for their health and wellbeing.

The range includes feeds which offer different levels of protein so owners can pick the appropriate food for their dog which will supply them with the correct level of energy for their purpose be it high performance, maintenance or rest.

For more information telephone Alpha Feeds on 0844 800 2234 or visit www.alphafeeds.com


For further information please contact Tim Smith at TSM on (01724) 784600.