I have not fed commercial kibble to my dogs in over a decade; I had long ago convinced myself from much reading and research that the ingredients in commercial food cannot be trusted. I enjoy making homemade food for my dogs, and my dogs seem very healthy for the effort.
So, when we got Bronte, the Livestock Guardian Dog, I was torn. How much homemade food would she eat, and how much work would it be to deliver her a fresh bowl of food every day? I decided to keep her on dog food at first, to be consistent with what she was eating before, and then ponder the question.
But, right away, I noticed she picked at her food, one kibble at a time. I always feel this is a sign that the dog’s body is complaining that the food is not right for the dog, and they are only driven to eat it when they are truly very hungry. Whereas, when you are eating things that are exactly what your body needs, generally they taste delicious. So, after a few days, I broke down and offered her a collie-style dinner. She gobbled it up.
So, now I’m compromising: I make her the same amount of raw food as the collies get, and then I back-fill with about another 5-6 cups of kibble. I’ve heard that LGDs don’t really eat that much, since they are generally lazy and have a slow metabolism. But, thus far, she is eating a lot! Hopefully it’s because she’s growing. The only saving grace is, at least she is tax deductible as a farm expense!
For the kibble, I’m trying to stick with the “better” brands. I have a lot of concerns about the massive and rapid growth stages the “giant” breeds go through, and feel that good nutrition is critical to weathering them through these stressful phases, to prevent lameness and permanent damage to their bones and joints. So, though I think it might be tempting to buy the “cheap stuff” for a dog that eats so much, I think this may be a financial disadvantage in the long run, if the dog ends up incurring a lot of health problems or has a shortened working life.
One challenge I’ve found when the dog is housed with the ram, he will eat her kibble, which is not desirable. So, I’ve found that putting it in water deters him, and renders the food still edible to the dog. If he ever learns to eat soggy kibble, I’m not sure what I’ll do.
Knowing that Bronte loves the raw food has been useful in training her to come to me as well. I have not found treats which will lure her, and she is going through a long and drawn out keepaway teenage phase. My longline idea helped some, but she keeps breaking it (or chewing it?). All she wants to do is dance and bounce around and woof at me, trying to enlist me in a game of chase and silliness. So, I give her about two minutes morning and evening to get her butt over to me and start eating her food, close enough for me to touch her. If she doesn’t, I take the food away with me, and try again later. She has skipped some meals, but I think she is getting the idea. Life is tough, but it’s imperative that she become more tame, and this is the only way I see to get that done!