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Nutrition & Training Tips

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Seasonal Feeding Programs

By Steve Ries

Feeding For Performance
As a breeder and trainer of canine athletes, we've spent many years refining our feeding program to ensure peak performance and condition throughout the year. Consequently, we get a lot of questions about the feeding regimen in our kennel. Following is a summary of some of the key points to consider regarding daily feeding requirements.

Focus First on Hydration
Before you consider how to feed, you must address the top priority. Dehydration is likely the greatest risk you face when moving from your off-season routine into the hunting season. While dogs don't sweat, they lose water through a variety of other activities. The importance of a constant supply of clean, fresh water cannot be underestimated and is likely the greatest contribution you can make to the health of your dog. Maintain a steady supply of water throughout the year and allow your dog to replenish with frequent small doses while hunting.

Special Attention To Puppies
Puppies have 2-3 times the maintenance requirement of a similar sized adult. This makes it more difficult to meet their caloric needs as activity increases. We tell our customers that their puppy burns a lot of fuel but has a small tank. Consequently, we suggest feeding in small increments 3-4 times daily until at least six moths of age to make sure energy needs are met. Since obesity can also cause major health issues down the road, we avoid overfeeding to consistently maintain ideal body condition.

Adult Requirements
Feeding an adult dog is easy during the off-season since there is little fluctuation in their requirements. A fifty pound dog can generally maintain proper body condition on 1000-1500 calories daily with normal temperatures and activity levels. As activity increases for the hunting season, calorie requirements can increase by as much as 50%. It is important to monitor your dog to make sure he maintains the proper condition to perform at the desired level throughout the season.

Meal Time
In our kennel, we place a great deal of importance on feeding times. Whatever the age of your dog, it is important to time feedings to allow for proper digestion before periods of activity. Here are a few quick feeding tips to help you avoid digestive issues with your dog.

  1. Avoid feeding in the heat of the day as this can result in increased body temperature caused by the digestive process.
  2. Allow at least 2 hours between feeding and exercise to help avoid digestive issues like indigestion and bloat.
  3. Break daily feeding into at least 2 meals (e.g. morning and evening) as this also helps avoid digestive issues.

It is also important to train your dog to eat when offered. This will allow you to more easily adhere to the tips noted above and avoid problems while maximizing performance.

A Winter Coat
We'll close with comments on how environmental factors affect calorie requirements. If your dog spends the winter in low temperatures, his body is forced to generate its own heat. He may need up to 30% more calories to generate the required body heat. If he's curled up indoors with you, though, it's best to avoid the extra calories and keep him lean and mean. This will make it easier to get him back into hunting form when the weather warms.

To learn more about Steve Ries and his training methods, visit

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What Level Is Your Dog?

By Steve Ries

What The Levels Mean
The first thing most people ask when they see Native® performance dog food is what do the Energy Levels mean. The Energy Levels are simply an indicator of the caloric content of each formula. The higher the number, the higher the calorie content. Native was designed to make it easy to choose the level of food that will meet your dog's needs and all Levels are formulated to meet the nutritional requirements for all life stages.

Change Is Easy
With one exception, the ingredients are exactly the same in all of the Native products. The Energy Levels are increased by simply adjusting the balance of Proteins, Fats and Carbohydrates in each formula. Since the ingredients are the same, you won't get digestive issues when you move from one Energy Level to another as your dog gets more active.

The one exception is that Native Level 1 uses primarily Lamb Meal while the other Levels use primarily Chicken Meal. This formula was created to meet the needs of dogs that have very sensitive stomachs and just seem to do better on Lamb than other meat proteins.

Energy Factors
With that said, there are several factors that will determine what Level is appropriate for your canine athlete. We have found the following factors to be the most important ones.

Breed – As a rule, certain breeds tend to burn more calories than others.
Age – Puppies tend to burn more calories than adults.
Activity – Obviously, more active dogs burn more calories.

You should keep in mind as you consider these factors that there really are no hard and fast rules. Every dog is a little different and body condition should be evaluated on a regular basis to ensure that nutritional requirements are being met.
So What Level Is Your Dog?
The following are some recommended starting points that work well for most breeds. Again, this is just a starting point. If your dog is very active, move him up a level if it seems to help.

Formula Puppies Adults
Native Level 1 Large breed puppies
Puppies with sensitive stomachs
Medium and large breeds with normal activity
All breeds with sensitive stomachs
Native Level 2 Medium breed puppies
Large breed puppies
Small & medium breeds - normal activity
Large breed – active dogs
Native Level 3 Small & medium breed puppies
Large breed puppies if limit fed
Small & medium breed – active dogs
Large breed – very active dogs
Native Level 3 Puppy Small & medium breed puppies
Large breed puppies if limit fed
Small breed – very active dogs
Dogs that must have very small kibble
Native Level 4 Small breed puppies
Medium breed puppies if limit fed
Small breed – very active dogs
Medium & large breed – very active dogs

Don't Forget The Water
As always, quality and quantity of water is the key to any nutritional program. We need to make sure the bowl is kept clean and full to maintain optimal health. We strongly encourage frequent cleaning of your food and water bowls to avoid the presence of bacteria and we try to never let the water bowl run dry. This may be the best thing you can do to keep your dog happy and healthy.

To learn more about Steve Ries and his training methods, visit