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SG Susan Garrett



A topic I get asked to talk about a lot is that of feeding raw. And although I'm not going to go into the details of how you should feed raw, I am going to share with you today what it's like training your dogs, when you're a raw feeder.

And before you turn away and say, “Susan, I don't feed raw and I don't want to.” I'm going to share with you that being a raw feeder requires me to have a very detailed strategy when I'm planning my training. Today, I'm going to share with you what that looks like and how it could benefit you no matter how you feed your dogs.


Hi, I'm Susan Garrett. Welcome to Shaped by Dog. And I'm going to start right off by saying, there is no guilt, there is no shame, there is no judgment about how you are feeding your dog. We are all doing the best we can and the best we believe we can for our dogs.

And keeping that in mind, I'll share with you that I decided to feed my dogs raw about 25 years ago and it was because a catastrophic illness that one of my dogs had. And I have no regrets and I have never looked back. Now, some people will say you shouldn't feed raw because you have the chance of bringing salmonella into your home. 


And I will say to you, there is no higher probability of bringing salmonella into your home by feeding raw, than there is by bringing any meat into your home from the supermarket, probably a higher chance bringing it in from the supermarket.

And so, regardless, if you're feeding your dogs raw like I do, or feeding meat to anyone in your family which I don't because I don't eat meat, you need good practices guys. We need to wash our hands after we handle raw meat. We need to disinfect the areas where we are preparing raw meat, regardless, if it's for our family or for our dogs. 


And if you're feeding dogs, you really need to disinfect the bowls they're eating out of after every meal. And so, for us that means they get thrown into the dishwasher every day. So now the scary part of raw feeding’s out of the way.

For those of you who have some curiosity about how to transition from kibble to raw, or really should you, what would be working for you, I'm going to share three resources. And I think these are three of the best resources anyone can share with you. 


Number one, my good friends, Dr. Karen Becker and Rodney Habib, they wrote the New York Times bestseller book, The Forever Dog. It's a phenomenal book that gives you really great insights into health and longevity for your dogs in general. But they have a follow up book called The Forever Dog Life. And there they share a bunch of recipes for people like me who happen to feed raw and want to train our dogs using the best choices for treats.


Now, Rodney and Karen's website is the foreverdog.com. Second resource, Dr. Susan Thixton. Her website is truthaboutpetfood.com. And Dr. Thixton puts out a list every single year, she goes to great deal of research, finding out what are the best raw and cooked foods to feed your dog. What ones include human grade ingredients, organic ingredients, non-GMO ingredients. It's an amazing list, not just of pet foods, but also treats that you might choose to use when you're training your dogs.

And every year there's a new list. It's a donation, buy donation. Yes. This woman needs to earn a living. And so, I suggest everyone donate twenty dollars a year. It is the best twenty dollars you can spend getting the latest information on how to feed your dog. If twenty dollars is impossible, hey, everyone has ten dollars to get some really good knowledge about how to feed your dog, right? 


The third resource is one I've shared here before, and that is Dr. Laurie Coger at the Healthy Dog Expo. Not only is that a great expo to really broaden your education about feeding your dog raw. But Dr. Laurie herself is a great resource.

If you decide like me, I want to take my raw food and add a bunch of organic fresh vegetables and fruit and I want to make sure it's balanced, and Dr. Coger is the one that I will go to, to balance my dog's meals. 


So, three great resources. But today it's about how do you be a raw feeder and make it easy to train your dogs? Because I've heard people say, “Well, I'll just use kibble for the first year or so while I'm really doing intense training and then I'll transition my dogs to raw.”

I happen to believe raw feeding is the absolute best for our dogs. In particular, it is the best for growing puppies. And so, I don't want to feed them kibble during a very important time of their life. And so, yes, I want them to have that raw food in them. 


How do you do that and train? Because we all know how easy it is to feed with kibble. And listen, when I made the transition over to raw feeding, I too fed kibble for the first year of their life. But now I really believe this is the best way to do things. So, how do you do it and why would you want to?

There's the obvious, the healthy point of view that it is absolutely better for our young growing puppies to have a raw meal. But also, it allows me to have some variability in my training. Let me share with you how. I will give my dog training treats. 


So, I'm training with a training pouch on sometimes, or I'll put my treats in my pockets, or if I have a hoodie on with the kangaroo pouch out in front. But I will always have my puppies or my adult dogs, if I'm training an adult dog, a stainless-steel bowl of food in a spoon. Sometimes the training is that I can go in and feed them off of the spoon.

Now, if I'm doing that, I'm really conscientious that am I training on carpet? Well, I'm going to put down either a yoga mat or I use a big piece of vulcanized rubber that I put down when I'm training off of a spoon because there's a higher probability that I'm going to slop. I am not that careful. And so, I want to be able to disinfect the area I'm training in afterwards.


And so, if I'm training on like the slate here in my house, not a big deal. I can just spray that down after. But if I'm training on something like even the interlocking foam puzzle pieces that I have on the training floor, I will still put something on top of that to make sure I can really disinfect that area afterwards.

And so, if I'm actually training with the raw, I will feed from a spoon, and you have to be able to feed from your left hand and your right hand. I will occasionally feed from a spoon. Yes, you have to learn to be really good at feeding with your left hand and your right hand. 


Most of the time I'll have a much smaller bowl. I've mentioned this before on this podcast. I love the stainless-steel basins bowls. And so, I have them in all different sizes and the small size, which I bought for puppies is a perfect size for training. It's small, easy to transport. And so, I will put one spoonful into that, and I'll put it on the floor.

So, I might be doing like hand targets and if I get a nice hand target, I might drop the cookie from my bait pouch or from my pocket. Yes, the raw food is on the floor, so we've got ItsYerChoice in play while I'm doing hand targeting. When if I get a really, really good one, I give the location specific marker that I spoke about in podcast episode 151


The one I'm using now is “chow”. Which means you can take the food from the bowl. So, when I see something that's brilliant, I just say, “chow”, they get the cookies from the bowl. And then I refill the bowl, put it on the ground, go about our training. When I see excellence again, “chow”, they get the bowl. So, it gives me that flexibility to really give the highest, most outrageous value reward at any instant because it's there. It's right there, it's on the floor.

Now, if you're training a really young puppy and they don't have that kind of awareness to know to keep working with you, they're not really sure about their location specific markers, then you can keep that say up on a stool or a chair and present it to them until they're at a place where you can just have it on the floor. 


So, I will use spoon. I will use a little tiny bowl. I will of course, at the end of the training session when I'm getting down to the end of their bowl, I will use the bowl that's housing all this food. I will also, let's say I'm going for a walk around the field, then I often will put the food into a food tube.

And you can buy these, I think there's two common uses for them. One is for camping, and they just roll up like a toothpaste. And those are the ones that I like for longer walks because I can hold more in them. Newsflash though, they aren't so good in cold weather because your hands get cold, and they get really difficult to roll. 


The other ones that I like are the little silicone tubes that you might put like shampoo or cream rinse in when you're traveling. Those ones are nice because they're so easy to manipulate. However, they don't come big enough for me.

So, I personally think somebody out there needs to make a food tube just for dogs that both is flexible, and you can get everything out easily. Now, when I get near the end, when I get back home, I'll put a little warm water in those tubes, shake them up and give the dogs an extra treat.


I'll just pour all that out in the bowl and then I can go ahead and disinfect my feeding tubes. I do that as soon as I get home. So, the tubes, I tend to use more for when I'm walking. So, I've got my spoon. One dish. Sometimes I use two dishes. If I'm doing something like a foot target where I want the dog to go from one side to the other, I will have a food bowl on either side.

And I might be in the middle, just putting a spoonful down, marking what I like. They can come and get it from here. They go across. I take another scoop out, marking on the other side so they can go back and forth. So, I have used two bowls, and you know, it really depends on what I'm training. 


And here’s the thing about being a raw food feeder and training your puppy or your dogs this way is you've got to be a little bit more strategic. So, when you're planning your training session it isn't just, “Well, what am I going to use to reinforce?” It's going to be, “What does the placement of reinforcement look like for me?”

So, for every behavior before I train it, I've actually visualized what that training looks like, and I know how and where I'll be placing the food reward. So, do you think that will impact my training in a positive way or it might hold me back a bit? 


Positive way, of course, things roll along so much freer because of how intentional I am in the planning stage of what I'm doing. I see myself reinforcing the dog. I see what that's going to look like. Where am I going to be holding those rewards? What are those rewards? What's the vessel? And what does the delivery of those rewards look like?

Now, there are times when I just want to use like a remote food trainer. So, what we'll do then is we will make our own dog treats. Now, some of you can just turn away right now because you're like, “Susan, I am not making my own dog treats.” But I recognize some of you will want to do that. 


So, I'm going to share a couple of ways how I do it. Yes, we will still buy some prepared dog treats, but I will say if you're buying prepared dog treats, there's a few things that I look out for. Number one, I want treats without any dyes in them. So, no coloring agents of any kind and you’ve got to read the label guys.

There's so much crap that is put into dog treats. Number two, I don't want any titanium dioxide, glycerin. Glycerin is really hard to avoid if you're getting these soft treats. So, I personally want to avoid glycerin. I just don't think it's something I want in my dogs. If possible, I prefer to buy organic for my dogs. 


I buy organic for myself. I think it's fair to do the same for my dogs. So, one of the brands that I like is Coco Therapy. I know you can't buy it everywhere, but that's one of the brands when I'm buying store bought, that I will buy because they have a lot of different presentations that depending on what I'm training. They've got some small treats that fit into the remote feeder.

They've got some bigger ones that I can throw, and the dogs love them. A lot of people will go to dehydrated meat or organ meat.


And I will caution you, it's super easy to get a lot of calories in those things. So, be very careful if you're going the dehydrated meat, buying like you know, chicken tenders that have been dehydrated. There's a lot of calories packed in there.

Likewise, if you're buying like beef liver, you're taking like a great big organ that carries a lot of different nutrients for your dog and you're concentrating it. And so, for example, they're finding a lot of excess of copper in dogs that are fed a lot of liver. 


So, I personally don't really feed organ meat to my adult dogs. And so, I definitely am not going to buy dehydrated liver to use as liver treats. Certainly, buying something that's got a little bit in it now and again isn't going to hurt anybody. But as a general rule, when I'm buying store bought treats, those are the things that I avoid.

So, making our own treats. For those of you who want this, I'm going to give a couple of recipes in the show notes. The first one is when we are making treats to fill up treat bowls for around the house or if we're making treats for remote feeders. We just take a can of meat, and we mix it with some oats and an egg and a few other items to make it into a paste or a liquid. 


It really depends upon what we're using it for. So, if we want it in a liquid, we put it in the high-speed blender to make it really easy to pour. And then we actually put it into a squeeze bottle. And we take that squeeze bottle, and we pour a little dot into these little silicone molds.

And so, we bake those and then we pop them out and they're just, they're super dry and crunchy. And you could make like a ka-trillion of these. And I'm going to share that this methodology of using a squeeze bottle on a silicon mold came from one of our Recallers students, LaDonna. Because we used to like, spread them with a spatula which took a lot more time. 


And when I keep saying we, we, we, I hope you all know, I rarely cook them myself. So, if I'm going to spend some time to bake, it has to involve chocolate chip cookies. And so, I just don't do that. But this is a way that you can know what your dogs are getting.

And you can either bake them for a very long time and put them into your treat and train because they're nice and crunchy or bake them for a little less long and they're a little bit more pliable. You can put those in the fridge and just grab a couple of handfuls when you're going out to train. You've got healthy treats that you've made yourself. 


Now, for This!, Kim actually came up with her own recipe because I didn't want the canned meat. And so, what she started was grass fed bison or free-range turkey. She picked those two because they don't have a lot of fat concentration. She mixed some potatoes in. So, it's like mashed potatoes and beef really.

And she put these in a food processor, rolled them out, baked them. Now the final stages of these, she does put them in the dehydrator to make them a little more, dry but still chewy. And then we just cut them up as we need to. So, there we have a few different ways to make your own treats. And that's why when I'm training, let's say I'm doing something like dremeling nails.


I will have some treats in a bait pouch, but I'll also have my raw food in a bowl. And so, I might reinforce holding the relaxed position with a treat, but I'll have a slop of the raw food in a tiny bowl sitting off to the side.

And after you know, maybe two or three nails, it depends on the puppy, it might be after two or three touches. I'll say “chow”, they get up and get to eat the bowl of food. Now, even my puppy Prophet now, he wants me to bring the food bowl to him lying down. So, he doesn't actually get up anymore. He just actually eats it lying on the side. 


It's like you know, I feel like I should be peeling him grapes at the same time. All right so, there really is nothing that I can't train with raw food when I'm doing grids. Sometimes I use a toy, but often I'll put food, his raw food in a bowl.

So, I look at training with raw, not as a handicap, but actually as an advantage because I've got such a massively high value reward that I can really fine tune behaviors the way I want because the dog is so keen to work for me. 


Okay, lots of information. I hope I haven't overwhelmed you. And for those of you who have never considered feeding raw before, I hope I've given you the clear path that shows you, you can not only feed your dog raw, but have an easy way to train them using raw as well. I'll see you next time right here on Shaped by Dog.