What My Dog Has Taught Me About The Trails

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What My Dog Has Taught Me About The Trails

September 05, 2018

By: Maree Edwards

What My Dog Has Taught Me About The Trails

Enter here for the inaugural Eukanuba™ Tails & Trails event in Auckland https://www.tailsntrails.co.nz/enter/  

 

Over the last year running has changed for me markedly. It used to be a largely solitary affair, due to being a shift worker and having a busy family life, I would hit the trails at odd hours or in the weekdays. However nowadays when I run, it is rarely by myself- as more often than not I have Rigby, our two year old Australian Working Kelpie, with me.

By Matt Rayment

Over the last year running has changed for me markedly. It used to be a largely solitary affair, due to being a shift worker and having a busy family life, I would hit the trails at odd hours or in the weekdays.  However nowadays when I run, it is rarely by myself- as more often than not I have Rigby, our two year old Australian Working Kelpie, with me.

The nature of the human/dog relationship has been studied and examined for as long as humankind has had these beings as companions, which google tells me is about 14000 years. Usually, when we reflect on this relationship we focus on what we teach the dog, however in the last while I have reflected on just what Rigby has taught me, and more specifically, what he has taught me about running - which is something that hitherto I thought I knew a lot about.

I’d like to share those thoughts with you, as having Rigby by my side has taught me a lot about the essence of running on trails...

Running is about hanging with the pack

The second he gets out of the car at the trailhead, Rigby is overjoyed to see whoever is coming along. He leaps about saying hi, and his enthusiasm for getting together with fellow runners is infectious. This sociability is something that I have taken on board to seek out opportunities to run with others, and this has been useful for me in terms of connection and engagement with my fellow human beings.  Out on the trail, it's a bad idea to try talking to Rigby, though, as many of my companions have learnt. He'll stop dead in his tracks to look up and engage in conversation, utilising a braking capacity that is frankly remarkable.

Running is about finding wonder in the small things

We can't always get out to exciting places to run. Even being fortunate enough to live next to a huge forest, The vast majority of my running is loops of familiar trail or gravel. This is largely due to time constraints as these days running fits in around my life, not the other way round. As nice as the trails are, there are only so many variations you can run and I'd hate to think how many kilometres I've clocked up pounding the same routes. Yes, it can be a drudge, and ennui can set in. Not for old mate, though.  Rigby, every time he runs, he finds something new - a new smell, a new pinecone, a new place to, er, relieve himself. He looks for the differences, not the similarities, so that every time he runs, be it somewhere new or somewhere familiar, he focuses on something new to wonder at. For me, reflecting on my surroundings, or the feel of a trail, the smells and colours, has a calming effect, it keeps me grounded in the moment, and noticing what is around me and taking enjoyment from this has increased my sense of well-being and gratitude at being fortunate enough to be able to run in such a wonderful place and to have the company of Rigby, a being who universally reflects positivity and enjoyment.

Set the dial to “Heck Yeah”

All the best running happens outside. And sometimes I can be swayed by the conditions: I was going to go for a run, but it was raining? Or it was too cold? Or too hot? I forget, but it likely limited my chances of getting out there.  Not Rigby. Any conditions, any season, are perfect for a run. Having to adapt to a Kelpie, who is relentlessly up for it be it rain, hail, or shine has for sure limited any sneaky “It’s raining” rest days. Sure, I get a bit cold and wet sometimes, but now I just get out there and run. And every time I do, I have a better time than if I just stayed home. Every time I do I quickly forget about the weather and enjoy my time with Rigby strengthening our bond and getting fit.

Running is supposed to be fun, its playtime.

For me, this was the big shift. I may be mediocre in my ability to run, but I’m serious in my training. My mediocrity is heartfelt. This has, in the past, stripped the enjoyment out of the act itself. I took pleasure in the process of training, but the act of running itself quickly became a chore. This is especially evident when I’m aiming for an event, and using a training schedule, as I so often do. I easily become a slave to running. Spending even 2 minutes with Rigby reminds me that running is supposed to be fun. It’s a process that we are superbly adapted to do, and like children, who we see incorporating running in their play, For Rigby, being out in the forest, running along the trail is playtime. He always has a total blast.  And it should be the same for us. Focusing on the play aspect of running, be it tackling an obstacle, or finding a route that you’ve not taken before, or just belting along a trail because it feels good,  not because it is part of a marathon split, is inherently refreshing and intensely good for your physical and mental wellbeing.

I love my dog, and I love running with him. I would heartily recommend hitting the trails with a four legged friend, their tails will be wagging, and I bet yours will too.

 

Do you want to get out and about like Matt and Rigby? Join them and treat your best friend to tail-to-trail fun and adventure. Enter here for the inaugural Eukanuba™ Tails & Trails event in Auckland https://www.tailsntrails.co.nz/enter/  

 

Image via Photos4Sale

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Tales of Rigby

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Tales of Rigby

August 09, 2018

I had never been a dog person, and I had not been able to put my finger on what was so beneficial about running with a dog - until Rigby came along. My wife wanted a dog to go trail running with for some time, but we couldn’t agree on what breed to get. That changed one morning when Rebecca stumbled across a post on Facebook for a four month old red and tan Australian Working Kelpie who was looking for a new home.

I had never been a dog person, and I had not been able to put my finger on what was so beneficial about running with a dog - until Rigby came along. My wife wanted a dog to go trail running with for some time, but we couldn’t agree on what breed to get. That changed one morning when Rebecca stumbled across a post on Facebook for a four month old red and tan Australian Working Kelpie who was looking for a new home.

After a rigorous application process Rigby arrived just before Christmas 2016 and since that moment we’ve been in the forest nearly every day. First we rambled, then we walked, then we hiked, now we run.

Now that we own a trail dog, I see his happiness when he is out with us, the satisfaction he gets from doing his job (being our trail companion) and the wonder he experiences from the myriad of smells and tastes on the single track.

For my part, it has been a wonderful feeling knowing that he looks to me as the big dog, the guy who takes him on his daily runs. Having a Kelpie has certainly cut down on sneaky rest days.

To be honest, I had always inwardly rolled my eyes when I heard someone talking about being in tune with an animal to the point where you can communicate non verbally. But I see that now, I’ve experienced it often on the trails and it is deeply satisfying.

Finally, we now have the awesome responsibility to bear that even though Rigby will only be a part of our experience, owing to our differing life spans, we will be one hundred percent of his. So while he is able, fit, and pain-free I am going to give him the best life I can. He won’t be around forever which inspires me to make every run I can with him the best one he has had.

Just like it has been a process introducing Rigby to the trails and a process in learning about his personality and his near limitless energy levels, it has been a process finding a food that suits Rigby and more importantly, one that he will eat regularly - as it turns out, he is not especially food driven.  

I mean, he is a dog, he won’t turn down roast chicken if the opportunity avails itself, but it has been a struggle finding a diet that keeps him full, and more importantly that he enjoys. Our experiments veered all over the map, from raw, to a mixed diet, to goodness knows what else. For the last three months we have had Rigby on Eukanuba™ Premium Performance and we finally feel that he is onto a winner.

Rigby can run from anywhere between 80-160 kilometres a week with us, and in between times he is active in his main role as our beloved family pet, tearing around the house with our three children, going for walks and chasing his favourite thing, a ball. Since starting him on Eukanuba™ Premium Performance we’ve noticed that he’s maintained an excellent weight and his coat is shiny and in great condition. Rigby has not experienced any gut distress and he has joined the clean bowl club for the first time in his life. Happily, he appears satiated in the mornings, which helps markedly with reducing the ‘Kelpie Energy Bomb’ that can go off when we let him out of his crate. 

Having a food like Eukanuba™ Premium Performance that we know Rigby will eat and one that is high in protein and fat for his energy levels and work rate is a major stress reduction in our lives, as trying to feed ourselves and our children when life is busy can be hectic enough let alone trying to deal with a finicky hound.

As Rigby and I work towards the Eukanuba™ Tails & Trails 10km in October, I will be interested to see how the food suits him when we are putting in some focused efforts. I will be sure to check in and let you know how he is doing.

~ Photo via Chris McKeen

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Body Condition Scoring

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Body Condition Scoring

April 26, 2018

Body Condition Scoring (BCS), is monitoring a dog’s condition in the same way you review your stock.

The most effective way to know how much to feed your working dog is to feed by eye. Just as you appraise your ewes and lambs body condition, so too can you appraise your working dogs’ body condition.

Body Condition Scoring (BCS), is monitoring a dog’s condition in the same way you review your stock.

The most effective way to know how much to feed your working dog is to feed by eye. Just as you appraise your ewes and lambs body condition, so too can you appraise your working dogs’ body condition.

What is body condition scoring?

BCS is a 9 point scoring system of your dog’s weight and body condition: 1 being emaciated and 9 being obese. By using this system you can easily tell if you need to feed your working dog more or less. The ideal working dog will be sitting at a BCS of around 4-5. Keep in mind that there are no half scores using this system.

How to body condition score.

Looking at your working dog from above, you should ideally be able to see their waist but not see any protruding hip bones or spine.

Looking from the side, they should have an abdominal tuck.

Ribs should be easily felt without being obviously visible.

If you can see the dog’s ribs, spine, or hip bones from a distance, you need to increase the amount of kibble you are feeding.

An important thing to remember is how much work your dog will be doing in the near future. If the season is just starting it’s a good idea to have them sitting around a body condition score of 5 so they can afford to lose a little fat as their work rate increases into the season.

Benefits of BCS

  • Easily track how much food your dog needs so that they can stay in top condition.
  • Being a standardised scoring system, it’s easy to communicate to your vet or any other professional when needed.
  • By making sure your working dog maintains an ideal body condition score, you can rest assured that they are ready for working hard on the farm.

For dogs to perform at their best, it’s important to feed them a source of good quality highly digestible protein such as that in Eukanuba™ Premium Performance. This supports strong, healthy lean muscles and tissue repair. Coupled with a good body condition score, farm dogs can be the lean, keen performance machines that every farm needs.

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What comes before a great working dog

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What comes before a great working dog

April 26, 2018

What comes before a great working dog? A great working dog puppy!

To make sure your working dog starts off on the right paw, it’s important to set them up for success by giving them everything they need while they are a growing puppy. This way they can hit the farm running when the time comes.

What comes before a great working dog? A great working dog puppy!

To make sure your working dog starts off on the right paw, it’s important to set them up for success by giving them everything they need while they are a growing puppy. This way they can hit the farm running when the time comes.

Providing the right food is a big part of this. Puppies have very different nutritional needs to adult dogs. Compared to an adult dog, puppies need up to 3 times more energy for growth. Choosing a diet with animal based protein, such as Eukanuba™ Puppy, will help them develop strong, lean muscles. It’s also important to feed them controlled amounts for their breed size. For instance, a  Heading Dog puppy who will grow to a medium sized dog, should be fed a puppy food for dogs with an estimated adult weight of between 11- 24kg. A Huntaway puppy will grow to be larger, so should be feed a diet specifically for large breed dogs. This is because a larger breed like a Huntaway has a longer growth time compared to a medium size Heading Dog. These larger puppies should also stay on a puppy food for a longer time, around 18 months. The Eukanuba™ Puppy Large Breed diet contains tailored levels of energy, calcium and phosphorus to help promote optimal bone development, setting them up to be hard working adult dogs.

By feeding a puppy specific kibble that’s balanced and complete, there is no need to supplement their diet with anything extra like calcium. In fact adding calcium has been proven to cause issues with growing puppies that can cause lasting damage to their bones and joints. Working dog puppies have a lot to learn before heading out on the farm.  After six weeks, your puppy has developed just over 70% of their adult brain. With Eukanuba™ diets use of DHA, an Omega-3 fatty acid derived from fish oil, your working dog puppy will be smarter and more trainable. Now that has to be good thing!

Feeding your working pup well, helps to develop a dog that is far more capable of working longer and more efficiently in their day to day life, as well as potentially having an extended working life. Eukanuba™ Puppy provides everything your working dog puppy needs to grow into the strong, hard working athlete every farm needs.

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Why should I feed my dog Premium Performance?

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Why should I feed my dog Premium Performance?

January 24, 2018

By: Maree Edwards

Working dog

As most farmers know, a good working dog is worth their weight in gold. Whether they are driving sheep or herding cattle, they are hardworking athletes who keep a farm going. It’s not uncommon for them to travel 100km of hill country in a day. To keep these dogs in optimal condition it’s important they are provided with an appropriate diet.

As most farmers know, a good working dog is worth their weight in gold. Whether they are driving sheep or herding cattle, they are hardworking athletes who keep a farm going. It’s not uncommon for them to travel 100km of hill country in a day. To keep these dogs in optimal condition it’s important they are provided with an appropriate diet.

To keep up with the sometimes extreme weather conditions and steep terrain of NZ, ideally they need a high energy but low volume diet. Feeding high volume meals has been shown to be a risk factor for GDV (a twisted stomach). The risk can be lowered by feeding smaller volumes of a higher energy diet.

Traditionally farm dogs have lived on a diet of home-kill meat and bones, with perhaps a few biscuits thrown into the mix. Unfortunately for some, this high bone diet has led to an expensive vet visit which isn’t ideal for the dog, farmer or the vet (who gets the often messy job of sorting it out). Dogs in work need high levels of easily digestible animal protein for strong, healthy, lean muscles and tissue repair. It can be taxing jumping fences and covering all of those miles on the farm! By feeding a good source of high quality protein to maintain muscle mass, injury rates are likely to be lower, ensuring your working dog enjoys an active lifestyle for as long as possible.

Eukanuba™ Premium Performance offers everything a working dog needs for both short bursts of energy, as well as those times where sustained energy is needed throughout the day so they can keep on working. It also helps to maintain strong and healthy teeth.

Certain fibres have been shown to help improve stool quality and promote nutrient adsorption, so working dogs can get the most out of their food. Smaller firmer stools make for a much easier clean up as well. Eukanuba™ Premium Performance utilises beet pulp for this.

With all the hard work of farm life,joints of highly active dogs can experience some wear and tear. By including natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin, Eukanuba™ Premium Performance offers those well used joints the support they need for intense work days.

By feeding these invaluable workers a premium diet like Eukanuba™ Premium Performance, you can rest assured that your canine team are getting everything they need in their food, in order to be the best they can be out on the farm.

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Performing a puppy health check at home

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Performing a puppy health check at home

December 01, 2017

By: Maree Edwards

Routinely performing a health check on your puppy is a great way to get them used to being handled. This will prove to be invaluable for trips to the vet and groomer.

Routinely performing a health check on your puppy is a great way to get them used to being handled. This will prove to be invaluable for trips to the vet and groomer.

Always start slowly when performing a health check on your puppy. It helps if you initially try this when they are well exercised and tired, therefore less fidgety when you begin. Like all things puppy, little and often is the key. Reward your puppy with treats as you go to ensure it’s a positive experience for your pup.

Start by stroking your puppy all over from the nose right down to their tail, including down each leg. Make it a positive experience, a puppy massage! Include a belly rub while checking for any redness or marks on their skin. It’s important to feel between your puppy’s toes. Getting your puppy used to this will make nail clipping an easier experience for both you and your puppy. Ensure you check there are no grass seeds or debris caught between your puppy’s toes and no broken nails that could cause discomfort. It’s also important to check if your puppy has dew claws. These may need extra clipping as they won’t wear down on their own. Some breeders remove dew claws, so don’t be alarmed if your puppy doesn’t have them. Although most puppies have them only on their front legs, some pups are born with rear dew claws as well so it pays to check all legs.

Observe your puppy’s face. Is everything symmetrical? Check your puppy’s eyes to make sure they are bright and clear. Look for any irregular discharge or redness. If you see something that doesn’t seem right, contact your veterinarian for advice. Check that your puppy’s nose is moist. Lift your puppy’s lip up and check their gums. It’s important to know what your puppy’s gums usually look like so if you note any changes you can seek advice immediately. While checking gums, have a look at their teeth. Does everything look as it should? What does your pups tongue look like? Getting your puppy used to having their mouth looked at will make it much easier when it comes time for a vet check as well.

Check each ear. Look into your pup’s ear and check for any redness or smell. A strong smell can be an indication of an infection. By regularly playing and checking your puppy’s ears it will be easier to gauge their reaction when something is wrong or when they are sore.

Make a note or take a photo of any changes you find on your puppy’s physical condition so you can communicate these to your vet. If there is anything that concerns you, ring your vet clinic for advice.

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I love my new Puppy

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I love my new Puppy

July 10, 2017

By: Maree Edwards

Eukanuba Resources

If your puppy is a large or giant breed, he will have a very steep growth curve and his nutritional needs can change dramatically over short periods of time. 

View the Eukanuba™ Puppy range.

Ideally he should be weighed and evaluated at least once every 2 weeks to ensure he is growing at an appropriate rate.

Controlled feeding of a special large breed puppy diet, which contains reduced amounts of energy and calcium compared to small breed puppy food, can help control growth rate. This will help avoid the problems caused by excess weight and developmental bone problems.

As people realize how accessible dog agility is and how addictive the challenges are for both dogs and humans, the sport has taken off. Ace Russell, owner of Agility Center of East Tennessee and inventor of Way to Weave, a weave pole manufacturer, attests to how compelling agility is for both handlers and canines. He came to the sport after showing dogs in conformation for years and was immediately hooked.

Russell helped sponsor the first agility trial in East Tennessee and, over the course of a few years, became an instructor. He now serves as the training director for the Tennessee Valley Kennel Club. “The nice aspect of agility is that it is relatively easy to get involved,” says Russell. “The commitment of time and money can vary based on the passion of the competitors.”

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Me and My Dog

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Me and My Dog

May 01, 2017

By: Maree Edwards

If you love your dog and you love to kayak or canoe, you might want to try bringing your dog out in the boat with you. Before you do, though, you should take precautions to ensure your dog doesn’t get injured or become uncomfortable.

If you love your dog and you love to kayak or canoe, you might want to try bringing your dog out in the boat with you. Before you do, though, you should take precautions to ensure your dog doesn’t get injured or become uncomfortable.

Before I began bringing my Beagle mix, Katie, out with me, I did a lot of research to make sure I was doing it safely. These are the things I found to be most important to keep your dog safe while canoeing.

Help Your Dog Adjust to the Canoe or Kayak

First consider your dog’s temperament and personality. Not every dog likes the water, and some dogs are afraid of it. I’d definitely start by taking your dog to a lake or river just to test the waters, so to speak, and see if he’s interested in it.

Then get your dog used to your boat. Canoes and kayaks make a lot of noise, so you just want your dog to get used to the different sounds yours makes and the motion of the paddle. It’s a good idea to do a slow introduction.

Also consider your dog’s size in relation to the boat. Canoes are wider and have some space to move around, but kayak cockpits are smaller and just designed for one.

I live in a condo, so I store my boat behind the couch. Before we went out on the water, I’d take my kayak out and stick it in the middle of the room, just as a way to get Katie accustomed to it. I would sit in the cockpit and invite her in, but I wasn’t going to force her. Soon, she was sitting in my lap in the kayak’s cockpit. Eventually, I gently pushed her out of my lap in the boat, and she would just sit in front of me.

Beyond the Canoe and Kayak: Your Dog’s Equipment Checklist

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