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Monthly Archives

January 2020

Spotlight on: Gundog directional training

By | Alpha Feeds | No Comments

gun dog standing to attentionA well-trained gundog in action, slinking elegantly to retrieve, and stopping, statue-still – at the pip of a whistle, is a marvel to observe, and something a working gundog owner endeavours to master. The good news is, this unwavering connection between trainer and dog is far easier to achieve than you may think.

The purpose of training

Directional control enables the handler to present his dog with the information she needs to perform efficiently. Sometimes your input isn’t necessary, and your dog can complete the task solo. However, at other times your assistance and guidance help things run more smoothly.

Starting from scratch

Using a combination of hand signals and whistles; the handler communicates to his gundog from a distance. For this partnership to work, his dog must be willing to pay undivided attention and to respond to his cues swiftly.

Directional training

  • There are two main components to directional training; the brakes, and the steering. The ‘brakes’, AKA stopping when necessary, can be taught with a ‘stop whistle’.
  • Once you and your dog have forged a strong connection and mastered the stop whistle, it’s time to move onto the ‘steering’ part of directional training. A paddock or large park works well for practice purposes.
  • Begin with left and right. What you ultimately want to achieve is your dog running in a straight line, at your command.
  • Keeping your dog stationary and with eyes fixed on you, throw one ‘dummy’, or ball to the left – not too far away in the beginning.
  • Using your arms; signal to the ball on your left. Use exaggerated motion as you’ll be working at far greater distances in the future, and your dog will need to identify your signal. When your dog returns the dummy, reward her with a pat, or a small treat.
  • Bring her quickly back to sitting and focused on you. Next, signal – with exaggerated motion – to the right and when your dog returns the dummy, reward her once again. Repeat.
  • When you’ve mastered left and right, try two dummies at once. You want to avoid your dog second-guessing you – so exercising the unwavering focus is essential. With both dummies set out – left and right – make your commands
  • Continue this training with the addition of the ‘back’ command (sending her directly away from you). For this command, you will raise your arm high, up and away from you.

In a nutshell

This communication and understanding is teamwork in action and makes working at great distances, and in unfavourable conditions possible. Once mastered, you and your dog will be the envy of many!

The Right Diet for Your Working Dog

By | Alpha Feeds | No Comments

Dog runningActive dogs like working, sporting, and hunting dogs, burn a serious amount of energy – up to four times more than that of your average dog. To counteract and support this extreme athleticism, they require a suitable high-energy feed.

Joint health is also crucial to your dog’s longevity, be it farming, policing, sporting and so on. Your active dog is invaluable to your team, and a carefully thought out diet will mean a long, happy, healthy and action-packed life.

When deciding on your dog’s diet, ensure it covers the following;

  • The food should be doggy-delicious.
  • The feed should provide your dog with enough energy to work hard, play hard and thrive.
  • Your dog’s food should support a healthy digestive system, help build lean muscle and aid in muscle recovery after strenuous athletic activity.
  • If your dog is extremely active, his feed may need additional nutrients to support joint health and mobility.
  • Your working dog is an athlete; his food will need fortifying with essential vitamins and minerals.

When to opt for high energy food

If your working or sporting dog is exceptionally active, chances are he’ll need a high-energy feed to match his energy outputs. Fat is your dog’s primary source of energy. Specialised high energy foods – alongside additional minerals, vitamins and highly digestible ingredients – possess a high fat content to meet this requirement.

Keeping weight on your sports dog

Highly active dogs are prone to weight loss. The correct feed will nourish your dog, help maintain a healthy weight, and provide all the energy he needs to perform. However, if your dog seems to be losing weight without cause, speak directly to your vet; they may need to conduct a complete physical exam to rule out any underlying health issues.

Joint health

For working and highly active dogs, joint ailments can be a real problem. Dogs that were once performing athletic movements and covering vast distances can begin to feel pain and discomfort – leading to slowing down and disengaging from the sports they once loved. When pain is obvious, and you see a decline in your dog, veterinary advice is required ASAP.