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Thinking Outside the Bowl: Games, Training & #TheArtofNutrition

Thinking Outside the Bowl: Games, Training & #TheArtofNutrition

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This post is sponsored by Wild Calling!, and the BlogPaws Professional Pet Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about the Art of Nutrition, but Kol’s Notes only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Wild Calling! is not responsible for the content of this article.

Koly and Fe are both raw fed, in large part, due to Felix’s ridiculous allergies. While it works well for my dogs, it’s a lot of work and it can get pricey. It’s definitely not a choice that is for everyone. However, just because my dogs are raw fed doesn’t mean we’re anti-kibble. Quite the opposite, in fact. There’s a lot to be said for all natural, grain free dog food made with high quality proteins and a ton of ways to use it, even if you aren’t serving up a bowl of kibble at meal times.

Go wild and think outside the bowl with dog games and training.

Life is busy, the winter is long and it can be hard to keep dogs occupied, stimulated and happy. One way I enrich my dogs lives is by using high quality kibble, not as a meal, but as a reward for playing fun games and learning new tricks. #Sponsored by @Wild Calling & #TheArtofNutrition

Especially during the winter and our long (oh so very long) rainy season, I spend a lot of time working on enrichment activities, along with all sorts of inside dog games, to keep my dogs busy, happy and not totally bananas.

Here are just a few of our favourites:

The Shell Game – Grab 3 cups or bowls. Place your dog in a sit/stay, put a few treats under one cup and shuffle them around. Tell your dog to “find it”. If they choose the right cup, reward them with the treats.

Buried Treasure – This is one of the simplest games we play, but one of Kolchak’s favourites. Take a couple fleece blankets and layer them into a heap, randomly tossing treats in the nooks and folds. Let your dog root through the pile like a pig to find the snacks.

Kolchak, begging me to "refill" his blankies with kibbles and treats.

Kolchak, begging me to “refill” his blankies with kibbles and treats.

Treat Toys – There are a tons of great treat dispensing toys and puzzles on the market or you can make your own treat dispensing toys. We use these all the time – especially the muffin tin game. It’s a Felix favourite.

Treasure Hunt – Place your dog in a sit/stay in a spot they can’t see you (or in their kennel if their stay is unreliable). Create a trail throughout the house, dropping treats at regular intervals for them to follow. You want them to be close enough together that they stay interested, but far enough apart that they have to work a little to find them all. Bonus points if the trail leads to a food puzzle.

Koly is happy to pose for ridiculous blog photos, as long as I have a handful of kibble.

Koly is happy to pose for ridiculous blog photos, as long as I have a handful of kibble.

Training – Kolchak loves learning new tricks. He’s like a sponge, soaking up new behaviours. Whether were practicing old favourites with dog training games like “Can You Do It Now?” or learning new tricks, Kolchak loves working hard – and earning noms.

There was just one problem with the fun and games though: they all relied on treats.

Most nutritionists recommend that treats be no more than 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake. Just 10%! That’s not very much and truth be told, most days my dogs got too much. That’s why a lot of the time when we work on training or when we’re playing games, I will use grain free, high quality kibble in place of treats. It’s nutritionally balanced, ensuring that even when they get a few too many treats, it doesn’t upset the balance in their diet.

Using high quality kibble as a treat can be really effective.

Even if your dog is already kibble fed, using a new flavour or a higher quality kibble as treats can entice many dogs. Koly will work awfully hard for just a few pieces. I am really fussy about the kibble I use though. I don’t want to sacrifice quality for convenience. My ideal “treat” kibble has to be grain free, all natural, made in the USA and made with good, high quality proteins.

Wild Calling! Pet FoodWe’ve been using Wild Calling! 96% meat, poultry or fish canned dog food for a long time. In fact, it’s the canned food we used to create many of our canned food dog treat recipes. (We’ve got a new one coming up for you soon.) I like the family run brand and their old fashioned ideals. They use high quality ingredients, like hormone and antibiotic free meat, poultry and fish. Like me, they believe in feeding grain free and in the value of real foods. Their foods are formulated to be used rotationally, changing flavours all the time. I’m a huge fan of rotational diets, as I have shared in the past.

They call their philosophy “the Art of Nutrition” which sounds very fancy, but is actually really simple: they make meat-rich dog food made from quality ingredients and zero grain all based on foods found naturally in the wild.

Since it’s a brand we know, trust and regularly use in our home, we were really interested to learn that Wild Calling! doesn’t just make quality canned dog food, they also make kibble – a pretty great kibble, from the looks of it. Unlike a lot of grain free kibble on the market, which uses white potato, Wild Calling! kibble is made with GlycoEdge, a specially designed mix of tapioca, sweet potatoes and lentils, to provide a low glycemic diet. (Why is this important? Kibble is traditionally a high carb, high glycemic food. When your dog eats it, their blood sugar spikes rapidly, signalling the pancreas to make insulin, which drops the blood sugar again. When your pet eats a low glycemic food, it creates a lower blood sugar increase, but that increase is sustained over more time, for more consistent energy and less strain on the pancreas. Fe’s pancreas needs all the help it can get, you guys. Insert the “the more you know” rainbow here.)

We haven’t tried the Wild Calling! kibble yet, but we’re excited to. If it’s half as good as their canned food, I know my dogs will love it. Do you want to try it too? Head over to the Wild Calling! store locator to find out where you’re closest store is.

Wild Calling! prides themselves on being a good neighbour and says they’re available to chat with pet owners “anytime, anywhere”. Get to know them on social media:

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Let’s meet back here in a few weeks to chat about what I’ve learned about the Wild Calling! kibble and most importantly, what the dogs think of it.

Do you ever use kibble as a “treat”? What other ways can we “go wild” and think outside the bowl?

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