Can a Dog’s Diet Really Affect Their Behavior and Training?

I am a firm believer that a dog’s diet does much to help shape their behavior, as much as your training does. My dog Zephyr, is a very highly driven, extremely dominant, and fiercely independent, little Dutch Shepherd. She is my first Dutch Shepherd, and I have been 100% happy with this breed. As I often say, my heart belongs FOREVER to this breed! But Zephyr and I did have a couple issues, that we needed to work out. Despite my handling many different breeds over 40+ years, I had much to learn about this breed. So we embarked on a learning process together. I say “we” because it is truly WE that have to work, and make changes. It is never only about the dog, and the sooner more owners, and handlers figure that out, the better your training, and your life will become.

Just one behavioral issue that I had noticed with Zephyr, was that she was not comfortable with allowing me to lean into her to kiss her face, as she would snap at me. I countered this with lots of training to work on this particular issue. I was thinking that this behavior was just a “startle reflex” that many dogs do have, so I started working with her by first easily approaching her, while speaking calmly to her. This was working, somewhat.

Soon after, in June 2018, I put her on a raw diet. I began noticing one-by-one, all those pesky little issues began to disappear. This to me, says a LOT about the fact of commercial kibble diets not being all that great for our dogs. In addition, they are loaded with chemical preservatives, not to mention, all the other garbage”ingredients” that they contain.

Today, Zephyr is a much calmer, and happier dog. Yes, she does still get ramped up, whenever someone walks too close to my windows, and she lets them know, in no uncertain terms, to BACK OFF! But that is a dog’s job! As long as it is in my control, Zephyr will ALWAYS be fed a fresh, homemade diet. And to Thank me, Zephyr now gives me her “Zephyr kisses” for her super fresh and nutritious meals.

For times, when raw feeding is not an option, I always keep a stock of TurboPup bars on hand. TurboPup is a veteran/woman owned business owned by Kristina Guerrero. Kristina was a C-130 Turboprop pilot in the USAF, and now is an entrepeneur in Deschutes County, Oregon. She is a member of her County SAR group, and had gotten NASAR (National Assocaiation of Search and Rescue) to designate TurboPup bars as the “official” meal bars for SAR dogs. She was featured in 2015 on Shark Tank, that resulted in her partnership with Daymond John, to help grow her fledging business.

NOTE: I am a customer of TurboPup only. I do NOT receive free products, nor compensation of any kind.

What Do I Do Next?

You just lost your beloved family dog. The procedure in the vet’s office was difficult and emotional. But now, you are faced with what to do with your faithful and loyal companion’s body. At the moment, the options seem so confusing, not to mention costly.

This is an interesting article by Dr Karen Becker of Healthy Pets, regarding burial of beloved pets, and other options, after they have crossed the “Rainbow Bridge.”

Many pet owners still opt for backyard burial of their pets, mainly due to the cost of other options. Dr Becker explains here why that is not really a good option, especially if you still have other pets.

Personally, I love all my dogs with my whole heart, but I just cannot see past the fact they will be buried in the ground and eaten away by worms, insects, and perhaps other critters. And what happens if I move from that house? My dogs deserve better than that!

Raw Feeding podcast

Here’s a terrific podcast on raw feeding, dogs with cancer, ketogenic diets, and intermittent fasting . It’s about an hour long, so grab a snack, something to drink, cuddle with your dog, and kick back and enjoy. Dr Karen Becker and Rodney Habib are interviewed by Kimberly Gauthier of Keep the Tail Wagging. It is from 2018, but still relevant.

Give these folks some time.

Kimberly Gauthier’s blog; KeepTheTailWagging

Dr Becker’s information on; HealthyPets

See Rodney at You can also visit his Facebook page at Planet Paws.

Raw Feeding for Dogs. A very controversial subject.

On June 7, 2018, I started my girl, a 5 1/2 year old Dutch Shepherd, on a DIY Raw diet. Now it’s been a little over one year, she is been doing fabulous, with both physical and behavioral changes being noted. Zephyr had been on Raw for 10 months, when I had her examined by our new, holistic vet, He was amazed that she is a 6 1/2 year old dog, and he attributed her weekly raw turkey neck to the beautiful condition of her teeth. She has never been to any vet for teeth cleanings, and, just to note, she has NEVER been under anasthethic, ever, in her life. She is also a fully intact female dog. In the future, I will be be taking her in for annual wellness exams, and will also have a complete blood panel done.

I put Zephyr on the DIY Raw, for general health reasons, Zephyr does NOT have any health related issues, that must be controlled through diet. I simply wanted to keep the commercial kibble diets out, and for me to KNOW exactly what I am feeding my dog.

I initially kept Zephyr’s feedings pretty basic for the first year. I wanted a good baseline as to how well she was doing. I started and kept an Excel spreadsheet, inputting daily, as to what was fed, her daily stools and condition, as well as anything that was out of the ordinary. For this first year I had been feeding ground chicken and beef mixes that I was able to obtain from my local butcher. I did question them as to percentages of the mix, and if they were close to the recommended 80/10/10 ratios. These mixes contain plenty of bone, as once or twice a week, I will notice the telltale chalkiness in her stools. I also fed a raw turkey neck once a week, as well as sardines twice a week. Initially I was adding raw eggs to each meal, and some vegies, though the vegies were quickly eliminated. Sometimes they were eaten, but not always. Zephyr does get vegies, occasionally that I share with her from my own meals. As for the eggs, after consulting with our veterinarian, he recommended, that if we feed eggs, we cook them slightly, just until the whites start to set. He said that this was a way for the dog’s system to better digest the biotin.

Now I am going to take our feedings to the next level, if you will, once I obtain a small chest freezer, to hold all of the dog’s meal ingredients. My fridge/freezer is just not big enough to hold both her meals and my own. I plan on continuing with the beef and chicken grinds as a base. Though I will also be getting whole ducks parts, chicken quarters, and continue with the turkey necks. We also plan on getting a good supply of green beef tripe, a beef heart, and both chicken and beef livers. I had fed both the beef heart and the chicken/beef livers in the past, though not all the time, mostly due to our storage space, or lack of it. But with her ground mixes having the recommended supply of offal and bone, I did not feel leaving out the heart and livers were a major problem.

Zephyr has been getting sardines twice a week, though soon, we hope to be able to start feeding her fresh caught (frozen) fish. I plan on getting my fishing gear and license together, so that I can fish and obtain my own fresh fish for Zephyr’s meals. Once they have been caught, they will be gutted, cleaned and then individually frozen for at least 30 days, Freezing helps to kill of any parasites that may have been in the fish’s system. When I feed her these fish, she gets the entire fish; head, tail, fins, and all. Usually I only thaw them out partially. And, gnawing on a partly frozen fish, just further helps to keep that tooth build up at bay.

As for supplements, we do not add in all that much. I buy Total-Biotics, a probiotic, from NW Naturals, available on Amazon. NWC-Naturals-Total-Biotics-Probiotics-Dogs I add in one scoop to each mixed meal, and the container lasts me about 6 months. I feed twice a day. I also add in to each meal, about a teaspoon of Super Essentials, from This replaced the powdered kelp that I had been using. SuperEssentialsForPets I will also add in either a spoonful of yogurt on top of her food, or mix in a couple spoonfuls of goat milk.

Now in the warmer weather, only June through October in our region, I add a few drops of black walnut tincture to her food, just ONCE a day. WHOA! You’re probably thinking. Yes, black walnut can be toxic, but my vet has assured me that in LOW doses, it is perfectly safe. And she is only getting this during the warmer weather, when mosquitoes are out and active. And it takes the heartworm larvae SIX MONTHS to develop into a fully grown parasite. I accept this as a way of protecting her from the heartworm risk. For me, this is an acceptable risk! I wanted something to help protect her from the risk of heartworms, without putting all those horrid chemicals into her body.

Switching my girl to a DIY Raw diet has really not been all that much more expensive. Now if I were to buy a commercially prepared raw diet, from one of the many good reputable companies, yes, it would be quite a bit more expensive. But then, buying that way, they have already taken care of portioning out the ingredients, supplements, etc. All you need to do, is place the dog’s daily amount into the feed bowl, and let him at it. So, there is a trade off! You pay more for the convenience of someone else already doing the work. But I choose DIY. I only have ONE dog, and I am retired (well semi-retired), so this lets me know exactly what my girl is getting in each meal. A little peace of mind goes a long way!

To learn more about raw feeding, please visit Kimberly Gauthier at KeepTheTailWagging Kimberly has some very insightful blogs, as well as some good helpful information for the owner new to raw feeding. I also subscribe to Dana Scott of Dog’s Naturally Magazine. DogsNaturallyMagazine DNM does host the annual “Raw Roundup,” where you can have access to many “experts” in the raw feeding community. And I get daily emails from Dr. Karen Becker, from Healthy Pets at, though she does not write exclusively about raw feeding. HealthyPets

Affiliate Disclosure:

Phoenix Working Dogs is my personal blog and a veteran/woman-owned business.  I, Claudia Marbury (owner), am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

I also am a customer of Mother Earth Pet Products LLC, however, please note that Mother Earth Pet does NOT provide free products for my pets.

I am a subscriber of daily informative emails with Keep The Tail Wagging, DNM, and Dr Karen Becker, however I do NOT receive ANY free products, services, or compensation of any kind from these folks.

Some Reasons Why Dogs Bark

Found this article by Dr Karen Becker, DVM. Great explanation as to some reasons why dogs bark.

By Dr Karen Shaw Becker June 5, 2019

Story at-a-glance

  • Barking is a very natural form of communication for dogs, but some do it to annoying excess
  • Dogs bark for different reasons, and understanding what triggers the behavior can provide insights into what, if anything, you should do about it
  • Some reasons for excessive barking resolve with appropriate environmental or lifestyle adjustments, while others benefit from positive reinforcement behavior training
  • Rather than trying to prevent your dog’s barking, focus instead on rewarding his silence

Dogs bark — it’s an entirely natural form of canine communication. Some dogs do it much more than others, and it seems to be an especially popular activity with the small set. Breeds famous (or infamous) for barking excessively include many types of terriers, the Chihuahua, Toy and Miniature Poodles, and the Pekingese. In addition, some working breeds tend to be very vocal, along with high energy or hyper dogs, as well as those with anxiety issues.

Different Barks for Different Occasions

Hello! Good to see you! — If your dog shows excitement when he encounters other people or dogs, his body is relaxed and he’s wagging his tail, the barking he does at those times is his way of being neighborly.
What was that? Did you hear that? — If your dog barks at what seems like everything — every movement or noise he’s not expecting — he’s distress barking. His body is probably held stiffly during this activity and he may jump forward a bit with each bark.
Hey! Stop right there! — Your pup considers your home, yard, car, his walk route and other places he spends a lot of time, his territory. If your dog barks continuously when a person or another animal approaches his domain, he’s communicating that a stranger is invading his turf.
Look at me! Look at me! — Some dogs bark simply for attention — from you or another animal. Your dog might also bark in the hopes of getting food, a treat or some playtime. The more you reward the behavior by giving him what seeks, the more likely he’ll be to continue to bark for attention.
Hello all you other barking dogs out there! — If your dog answers when he hears other dogs barking, it’s a social thing. He hears the barking of nearby dogs, or even dogs at some distance, and he responds in kind. This type of social barking is often heard at animal shelters and boarding facilities.
Help! I can’t stop this annoying barking! — If your dog barks continually, perhaps while performing a repetitive movement like running back and forth along the fence in your yard, he’s demonstrating a bit of a compulsion. You might want to try to find a better outlet for his energy — like a rigorous walk or a long game of fetch. A tired dog is a quiet dog.
Let me OUT of here! — If your dog is behind your fence and another dog passes by within view, your pup might bark excessively to signal his frustration that he can’t greet his buddy out there on the sidewalk. This type of barking is usually seen in dogs who are confined or tied up to restrict their movement.

As you can see, there are some types of barks that require your attention in the form of environment or lifestyle changes that help soothe your dog and reduce or eliminate his need to bark. And then there are the barks that serve no real purpose and require an intervention.

In under-exercised dogs who don’t receive adequate physical or mental stimulation on a daily basis, excessive barking can be a way to alleviate boredom. Dogs with separation anxiety also often bark nonstop or howl when they’re left alone.

Teaching Your Dog That Silence Is Golden

Since barking is a natural behavior and means of communication for dogs, it’s counterproductive to try to prevent it. Instead, your goal with a dog who barks excessively is to teach her to stop barking on command.

This training will be easier if you’re starting with a puppy, but it can also be done with an adult dog. With a puppy, you’ll need to train yourself first to ignore his cute little yips and squeaks so as not to reinforce the behavior. Keep reminding yourself those adorable puppy barks will grow louder and more annoying the older she gets.

“You don’t punish barking, you reward silence,” says Dr. Nicholas Dodman, founder of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine.1 It’s a brilliantly simple approach, but it doesn’t come naturally to everyone.

There are many benign ways of training a dog not to bark,” writes Dodman. “Most of them involve utilizing a voice command, such as No bark! Some of them simply entail patience, where you wait until the dog eventually does stop barking and then you reward it with some highly sought after treat …”

If you’re consistent in your response to your dog’s barking, she’ll start to reduce the length of time she barks. You may be able to speed up the process a bit by immediately following your verbal command to stop barking with words that indicate a treat is part of the bargain in exchange for her silence. When she starts barking, you say “No bark,” followed immediately by “Want a treat?”

Gradually reduce the number of treats she receives until you’re rewarding her with food only once in a while, and be sure to use only tiny pieces of healthy treats. (However, remember to always reward her with verbal praise and petting when she does what you ask her to do.)

Dodman also points out that some dogs may require negative reinforcement (which is not the same as punishment) through the use of a head halter with a training lead. When the dog barks, tension is applied to the training lead to remind him he’s performing an undesirable behavior. The reward for his silence is release of tension on the lead.

“Most owners make the mistake of feeling that they have to chastise or otherwise punish their pup for barking but the commotion and anguish that this causes does little to improve the situation,” writes Dodman. “In fact, in yelling at a dog that is barking may seem to it as if you’re barking, too.”

3 More Tips to Curb Excessive Barking

  • If loud noises set your dog off, a crate of his own that he can go in and out of at will, coupled with soothing music or a television on in the background can help. Tips and tricks for crate training your dog (including fearful dogs).
  • If he’s barking out of boredom, increase his exercise and playtime, take him on walks, to the dog park, or find other activities that give him both the physical activity and mental stimulation all dogs require to be well-balanced. The best way to create a quiet dog is to exhaust him with exercise.
  • Changes in your dog’s routine and environment can cause stress, so as much as possible, stick to a consistent daily schedule he can depend on. You might also consider talking with an animal behavior specialist about desensitization and counter conditioning exercises for a stressed-out pet. Lifelong socialization and positive training are also essential for your dog’s mental and emotional well-being.

Paracord Dog collars

Handmade paracord “cobra weave” dog collars will be coming soon to our online store. At this time, the ONLY options will be single or dual color, with a regular metal buckle, and an optional “D” ring.

Future plans will include an optional cobra buckle, as well as a ‘dog tag’ style ID woven into the collar.

Playing Games in Life will make you the Loser.

Sitting here thinking, after reading what others had to say regarding people who play that game of thrashing others behind their backs.

I have to wonder WHY do some people feel the need to do this? Will it make any difference whatsoever? Will it change the outcome of who won that job, position, or game? Why?

The only thing that comes to my mind, is that the people who this, are simply very emotionally insecure individuals, and this is their way of coping, of giving themselves some sort of ‘satisfaction.’

But what it actually does is to undermine their own efforts at success, , and it permanently mars their character and integrity. Sure, they have made a name for themselves; as a liar, cheater, and someone to never be trusted!

I don’t know about you, but these types of people are not those that I wish to have in my life. I got suckered into that game a few times when I was younger, and I was just trying to “go along” with the team. But let me tell you, it DOES NOT FEEL GOOD! And when you get suckered into that nonsense “game,” it is YOU who will be left to take that inevitable fall! Because that is how those insecure people play that game. They know it is wrong, and they have burnt too many bridges themselves in the past, so they sucker you into playing along.

That is why now, I have learned to be honest, blunt, and to the point. Many people don’t like me for my bluntness, but I am honest to a fault. I would rather them not like me for my bluntness, than to lie to them, making them believe something is right, when it is actually very wrong.

This is why I always prefer working with dogs. They are always honest. And they will call you on it, if you are less than honest. Real dog people know exactly what I mean by this.

When you work a search dog, you cannot claim that your dog “alerted” to something, when in fact the dog is just “out for a walk.” You cannot lie just to “get that find” that all dog handlers dream of getting. You must be HONEST, and not “play that game.”

If you get into the habit of game playing, it is going to come back and bite you in your ass! And likely, your career, and your reputation will suffer because you placed a higher priority on your EGO, than on doing the job right!

Zephyr’s Rex Specs

So I took advantage of the Memorial Day sale on at Rex Specs, and just ordered Zephyr a pair of coyote goggles, with a clear lens and a blue mirror lens. Got to protect those eyes when out tracking.

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