All Posts by Sharon Elber

Best Dog Food Australia (2020 Buyers Guide)

The Best Dog Food Available In Australia -  A Complete Review

Australia’s pet food industry is largely unregulated. This can make it very challenging for pet owners who want to give their faithful companion excellent nutrition for a fair price.

That is why we built this guide to the best dog food in Australia. In it you will find information on how to read a dog food label, what to look for in a quality feed, as well as our top choices in several categories.

It is important to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all formula for the best kibble. Instead, different dogs have different nutritional needs. So, we made this guide to include top choices in a variety of different categories.


Labrador Retriever Puppy standing and eating from his dog bowl

How To Choose The Right Dog Food

Nutrition Considerations

In order to make good choices for your pooch when it comes to getting the best dry or wet dog food, you have to first understand a few basics about how ingredients are labeled. One word of difference in the ingredient list can actually make a huge difference in terms of the quality of the source ingredients.

Here are the main tips to reading a dog food label:

  • Named Protein First – The first ingredient in quality dog food should be a named protein such as chicken or beef. Avoid dog food that lists “meat” generically as this is a sign of cutting corners in terms of the quality of ingredients due to much more relaxed quality guidelines for this ingredient label.
  • Avoid “By-Products” – Whenever possible, avoid those foods that feature protein by products such as “poultry by-products as this is a lower quality source of protein.
  • Meals are OK – Because of strict nutritional guidelines, meals are an excellent source of protein as long as the protein is specifically named, such as lamb meal or salmon meal.
  • Whole Food Additions – Canines are omnivores which means their digestive system is designed to benefit from both meat and fruits and veggies. Quality dog food includes attention to additional whole foods to boost the vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants found in such foods as spinach, sweet potato, blueberries, etc.
  • Understand Guaranteed Analysis Levels –This critical aspect of the label lets you quickly see the overall balance of a particular dog feed formula in terms of protein, fat, fiber and sometimes other nutrients such as amino acids. Talk to your vet to find the right range for your dog since breed, size, age, and activity levels can all impact the ideal protein levels for your dog. 
  • Avoid Sulfite Preservatives – One of biggest controversies in Australian dog food news of the last few years has been the use of Sulfite preservatives, such as sulfur dioxide in dog food or hidden in low quality ingredients such as “meat meal.” These preservatives can prevent the nutrient thiamine, or vitamin B1, from being absorbed. Left untreated, thiamine deficiency can cause severe neurological problems and death.
  • AAFCO Compliance - In Australia, pet food is a largely unregulated industry which can make purchasing high quality dog food a bit dicey. However, the best manufacturers use the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) standards for labeling their products. Such companies will mention this on the back label, and you can take this as one sign of quality.

Age & Size Factors

There is no one-size-fits all formula for the best Australian dog food. Dogs of different sizes, ages, and activity levels have different nutritional needs. For example, large breed dogs can develop serious skeletal problems if they are fed too much protein as puppies and as a result they grow too quickly.

Finding the right feed for your pet does include accommodating their individual needs. That is why our recommendations for the best dog food in Australia include those lines that offer clear and diverse options for canines of different ages, sizes, and activity levels.

Special Diet Dog Food Formulas

Building on the theme of unique diets for individual dogs is the fact that some dogs do need special diets to address specific health concerns. Here is a quick primer on the most common special dog diets:

  • Limited Ingredient Formulas – Some dogs have food allergies or food sensitivities to certain ingredients commonly found in commercial dog food. One way pet owners can avoid food allergens easily is to stick to limited ingredient dog food that avoids the offensive ingredient.
  • Novel Protein Formulas – Some dogs are unfortunately sensitive to some of the most common protein sources such as chicken, beef, and lamb. For these canines, a novel protein that is less commonly used for dog food, such as kangaroo or duck, may be necessary to maintain good health.
  • Grain Free – Despite the explosion of grain free dog food on the market, not all dogs really need to avoid grains and this label does not necessarily indicate better quality feed. That being said, whole food sources of fiber and nutrients over cheap grains such as wheat, soybeans, and corn can add a lot of nutritional value to your canine’s diet.
  • Weight Control – Be careful with weight control formulas if your pooch is overweight. Many such formulas have fewer calories per serving, but also sacrifice on protein which can reduce muscle mass thus decreasing overall metabolic rates. If your dog is overweight, consult with your vet to identify a weight loss plan that is healthy for your dog.
Poodle dog choosing between raw meat or kibble

Top Pick: Best Dry Dog Food Australia

Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Beef Recipe Dog Food

Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Beef Recipe Dog Food

Nutritional Analysis (Dried beef formula):

Protein

38%

Fat

30%

Fiber

2%

The cream of the crop in terms of Australian dry dog food is this option from Ziwi. It all starts with careful domestic sourcing of hormone free New Zealand beef which comes in as the first ingredient.

One of the things you should know about Ziwi is that they use a low heat air dry technique to preserve the meat in their formulas. Since heat destroys delicate micronutrients and vitamins in whole foods, this method, although slower and less efficient, produces superior nutrition for the lucky dog who only gets the best.

This formula avoids the fillers found in most commercial dog food. It contains no grains, legumes, potatoes, sugars, rendered meats or by products, and no artificial preservatives.

This feed is a bit on the pricey side, but that is a little bit deceptive. It turns out, because the food is so much more nutrient dense than other commercial dog feed on the market, you can feed much less volume per serving.

You can also use this nutrient dense recipe to supplement raw food diets as a dog food topper.

Pros

Cons

  • New Zealand Beef is the number one ingredient
  • Expensive per pound, but you will feed significantly less volume
  • No growth hormones used in source cattle
  • Only a few recipes are available
  • Low heat air dry preservation to boost natural nutrients
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  • No grains, potatoes, legumes, or other fillers
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  • Nutrient dense and extremely protein rich
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  • Can be used to supplement raw fed diets
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Other Ziwi dry dog food recipes to consider include:


Runner Up: Our Second Best Dry Dog Food Australia

Stockman & Paddock Working Dog

Stockman & Paddock Working Dog

Nutritional Analysis (Working Dog Formula):

Protein

26%

Fat

16%

Striking a perfect balance between high quality ingredients, domestic sourcing, and a fair asking price, our top choice for Australian dry dog food is the Working Dog formula by Stockman & Paddock.

Note that the number one ingredient is real Australian beef. No mystery ingredients here. Total protein of 26% is well above the industry average. And, the recipe includes whole grains to help to support the fiber, prebiotic, and energy needs for even the most active dogs.

The major downside of this brand is that they do not offer specialty formulas for toy and giant breeds, or puppy and senior formulas. So while this is going to be a very good choice for many dogs, not everyone will find the right formula for their individual dog.

Pros

Cons

  • Real Australian beef is the number one ingredient
  • Is not held to AAFCO labeling standards
  • 26% protein by weight to support muscle development
  • Limited selection of recipes and specialty diet formulas
  • Contains whole food ingredients such as Flaxseeds, Dry Chicory Root, Carrots, and Blueberries
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  • Reasonable price when considering the quality of ingredients
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  • Prebiotics to support digestive health
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Those interested in the Stockman & Paddock line of Australian dog food, you may be interested to know that they recently introduced a grain free recipe to their line of high quality dog food:


 Best Wet Dog Food Australia

Ziwi Peak Wet Dog Food Formulas

Ziwi Peak Canned Venison Recipe Cat Food

In line with our top pick for kibble, the canned dog food selection offered by Ziwi comes in as our top pick for the best wet dog food.

Again, the choice is easy because of Ziwi’s superior ingredient sourcing with a focus on developing relationships with New Zealand farmers and using low heat preservation techniques to make sure the natural benefits of their whole food ingredients shine through in the finished product.

Like their dry formulas, you just won’t find the typical fillers used to bulk up most commercial feeds. Instead, you will find a short but all natural ingredient list focused on whole food nutrition.

If you have a picky eater on your hands, you simply must give Ziwi wet a try. Most dogs simply go nuts for these flavorful recipes.

Also, if you have a dog who does better with novel proteins and/or needs a limited ingredient formula, you are likely to find the selection of Ziwi canned foods to be more than sufficient.

Pros

Cons

  • Careful and ethical sourcing of New Zealand ingredients
  • A bit pricier than some other options but worth it for the quality

  • Whole food nutrition with small batch processing
  • Outstanding nutritional profile
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  • Tasty formulas available with novel proteins
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  • No fillers typically used in commercial dry feed
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  • No growth hormones used in farming source cattle
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  • No artificial preservatives, flavorings, or colors
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Below you will find the many different varieties of ZIWI wet dog food to choose from:

Best Grain Free Dog Food Australia

Ivory Coat Natural Health Line of Dog Food

Ivory Coat Adult and Senior Lamb & Kangaroo

Protein

32%

Fat

14%

Omega-3

0.5%

Omega-6

3%

There is a lot to love about the Natural Health line of dog food by Ivory Coat. A relatively new brand, the attention to quality is clear. And the entire line is Grain Free with a ton of novel proteins, age, and size appropriate formulas to choose from.

Notice that the first ingredient is Australian Chicken Meal, a very high quality source of protein. We also see very high quality whole food ingredients that boost the nutritional content of this food including carrots, kale, broccoli, coconut oil, and blueberries.

This food does NOT use the problematic sulfite preservative that can cause thiamine deficiency, which offers Australian dog owner’s peace of mind as well.

Finally, a peak at the overall nutritional profile includes a whopping 32% crude protein which is well above average and plenty for your adult dog’s needs.

Pros

Cons

  • Entire line of grain free dog food
  • Relatively new line of dog food
  • Australian Chicken Meal as the first ingredient
  • A bit pricier than some other options
  • No “meat” or “meat by-products
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  • 32% crude protein
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  • Follows AAFCO labeling and nutrition guidelines
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  • Boosted Omega-3 and 6 for healthy skin and coat
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  • No wheat, corn, rice, or soy
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  • No artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
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  • Large variety of options for size, age, and special diet needs
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Check out the options in the Ivory Coat Natural Health Line to choose the best food for your individual dog:

Adult and Senior dry food Formulas from Ivory Coat:

Weight Control formulas by Ivory Coat:

Puppy Formulas from Ivory Coat:

Wet Dog Food Options from Ivory Coat:


Best Cheap Dog Food Australia

Hill’s Science Diet Line of Dog Food

Hill's Science Diet Puppy Large Breed Chicken Meal & Oats Recipe Dry Dog Food

Nutritional Analysis (Adult Chicken & Barley Formula)

Protein

20.5%

Fat

12%

Omega-6

2.5%

If you are looking to find a good quality dog feed in Australia without breaking the bank, our top choice for a budget friendly option is the Hill’s Science Diet line.

This product is manufactured in the USA and adheres to AAFCO manufacturing and labeling guidelines to ensure the kind of balanced nutrition your dog deserves.

Further, the ingredients list avoids artificial preservatives and features wholesome natural ingredients such as whole grains, apples, and carrots (although they do appear late in the ingredient list).

While it isn’t the highest quality feed for your dog, it does offer a significant cost savings without compromising too much in terms of quality.

Pros

Cons

  • Manufactured in the USA with AAFCO compliance
  • Limited availability in terms of novel proteins and grain free options
  • First ingredients are high quality named protein meals
  • Whole food ingredients added for optimal health
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  • Omega 3 and 6 supplements for coat and skin support
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  • Good selection of age and size options to fit most dogs
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  • Several special needs recipes to choose from
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  • Excellent price point for a solid and reliable feed
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Check out the options in the Hill’s Science Line to choose the best food for your individual dog:
Adult Recipes:
Puppy Recipes:
Special Needs Recipes:

FAQ

How should I change dog food safely?

It is important to give your dog a chance to adjust to food changes whenever possible. It takes up to a week for the gut flora to adjust to a different balance of ingredients, and the result of changing food to quickly can include major gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting and diarrhea.

Change food slowly by replacing only a small portion of their food each day. Start by replacing ¼ of their food on the first day, then ½ on the second day, then ¾ on the third day, finally full replacement on the fourth day.

If you notice any signs of stomach upset, slow down the transition. If vomiting or sever diarrhea occurs for more than 24 hours, go back to the original food and contact your vet.

How do I know if my dog needs different food?

In general, the signs of a good diet include a healthy coat, shiny eyes, and overall good health. If you notice hair loss, dry or flaky skin, persistent itching, or any other symptoms of poor health, it may be time to check in with your vet to determine if a higher quality diet may help your dog’s quality of life and overall health.

Another thing to be aware of is the symptoms of Thiamine deficiency which can happen when sulfites are used as artificial preservatives in low quality dog foods. Initial symptoms include GI upset such as a lack of appetite, vomiting, or diarrhea. Symptoms can progress to include neurological problems such as unevenly dilated pupils, stumbling, and seizures. Finally, cardiac problems can develop which can prove fatal.

It can be difficult to diagnose Thiamine deficiency before it progresses to the fatal stage. Thus, it is critical to feed a high quality diet to your dog from a trusted manufacturer who complies with strict labeling guidelines.

Does my dog need grain free dog food?

Following recent trends in human fitness, grain free diets for dogs are all over the pet food shelves these days. Contrary to popular belief, just because a food is grain free does not mean it is higher quality. Other nutritional considerations such as a quality protein source and whole food ingredients play a larger role in dog food quality than grains do.

However, if your dog is showing signs of a potential food intolerance or unknown allergy, you and your vet may decide to try a grain free dog food just to eliminate the possibility of a grain allergy as part of a treatment program.


The Verdict: Best Dog Food in Australia

Unfortunately, Australia’s lack of regulation on dog food can make purchasing a high quality feed for dogs a challenge. However, we hope this article has helped you to make decisions about the best dog food for your faithful furry bestie.

To review, here are the products we recommend:

Clicker Training In 5 Easy Steps – 2020 Upd.

How To Clicker Train A Dog In 5 Easy Steps

Clicker training dogs is easy to learn and offers the fastest way to help your dog learn. Whether you want to curb problem behaviors, teach a few fun tricks, or train your dog for competition, clicker training is the way to go.

This guide offers a few of the basics that you will need to learn before starting your clicker training journey.


What is Clicker Training?

Clicker training has its roots in the work of animal behaviorists who wanted to apply the principles of operant conditioning to train marine animals over thirty years ago. With the help of several visionaries including Karen Pryor, Gary Wilkes, Gary Priest, and Ingrid Kang Shallenberger, clicker training dogs has created a complete revolution in canine training.

In the most basic sense, clicker training dogs is a technique that focuses on the power of associating the sound of the click with reward, offering the trainer the ability to be very accurate about what behavior they are rewarding.

Once you and your dog learn the basics of this technique, you will find that it produces amazing results whether you are training fancy tricks or everyday basic manners.

A bonus of this training technique is that it builds a bond of trust between you and your furry friend. It also helps to keep your dog motivated to learn more because training sessions are full of good things. Finally, using this style of training creates a kind of game that you and your dog will play together to keep training fun and effective for both you and your canine companion.

The Basics Of Clicker Training For Dogs:

  • Marker: The sound of the click is used to mark the exact behavior that you want to increase during your training session. The clicker is also known as the marker.
  • Criteria : Set by the trainer and often adjusted as training progresses, the criteria is the behavior the trainer is looking for to mark and reward during training. For example, when first training a sit, the trainer may set the criteria as the dog’s bottom hitting the ground for a second. However, as training progresses, the criteria will go up to the dog keeping their bottom on the ground for 2-3 seconds, then 5-10 seconds, then a minute, etc.
  • Reward or Motivator: Reward is something that your dog loves and is always given immediately after the click sound, even if the click sound was made in error. It is sometimes referred to as a motivator. This associates the click sound with the reward and teaches your dog to repeat the behavior they were doing the moment they heard the click sound.

Most professional dog trainers use food as a reward because it can be quickly repeated during a training session. Note that for dogs that are highly food motivated, you can use their regular kibble rations for training purposes and avoid high calorie treats which can cause weight gain.

Other rewards may include something else that your dog loves that can be repeated often such as a toss of the ball, praise, or pets. However, these motivators are generally not as effective as food.

  • High Value Reward: While many food motivated dogs will work for kibble, sometimes trainers use a higher value food reward such a small bits of cheese or cooked meat for extra motivation when the distraction levels or high or when training a particularly challenging behavior.
  • Fading the Reward: It is a myth that dogs trained with a clicker are always dependent on food rewards to do tricks or behaviors. In fact, once a dog has learned and perfected a behavior the reward is faded using a variety of techniques such as behavior chaining, randomizing reward, and raising the criteria threshold.
  • Rate of Reward: This is simply how often you reward your dog over time during a training session. Pro dog trainers know that the faster the rate of reward, the faster a dog will learn. Adjusting the rate of reward is something that the trainer does by setting the criteria low enough that the dog is successful as often as every 3-10 seconds, especially when training new behavior.

How To Use A Clicker To Train A Dog


STEP 1: Charge the Clicker

The first step to using a clicker to train your dog is to begin to associate the sound of the click with a reward. Just hang out with your dog and click then reward at least 10 to 20 times.

STEP 2: Set a Criteria

Every training session should start with the trainer setting the criteria low enough that the dog is likely to be successful at achieving it often. For example, if you are training the command “Heel,” the initial criteria may simply be every time your dog comes up to your right side for even a second as you walk around.

Note that over a training session, you as the trainer will raise the criteria at a pace that keeps your dog successful so that you can maintain a high rate of reward.

STEP 3: Raise the Criteria

Now you are marking and rewarding only after waiting for a bit more from your dog. Using the case of the Heel command, you only mark and reward after your dog takes two steps in the heel position.

Sometimes during training, you will need to go back to a previous criteria. Remember, you know you have set the right criteria when your dog is successful and you have a high rate of reward.

STEP 4: Add the Command or Cue

One of the secrets of clicker training like a pro is to learn when to add the voice command. Rather than starting off with the command before your dog knows what to do, wait until they are already doing the basics of the behavior reliably, even if the duration is short, before adding the voice command.

STEP 5: Add Distance, Duration, and Distraction

Once your dog has mastered the basics of a command in a low distraction environment, you can start to add what is known as the three D’s: Distance, Duration, and Distraction.

Basically, this means working on the command from further away from your dog, waiting longer to mark and reward, and asking for the behavior around distractions such as near other dogs or around other people.

Note that just like your initial training, you need to be able to notice when your rate of reward is slipping and your dog is unable to meet the criteria often enough. Set your dog up for success by lowering the criteria again and progress more slowly with the three D’s.

If you want to learn more about clicker training dogs, stay tuned as we will be offering more in depth guides here. In the meantime, you may want to check out one of the best books on the subject,  Don’t Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor.


Dog Training Clickers

When it comes to finding the best dog clicker, you have a lot of options. Most dog clickers for training are inexpensive and easy to use. The following guide will help you learn a bit more about the options on the market and how to pick the best training tool for your pooch.

HoAoOo Pet Training Clicker with Wrist Strap

To get started with canine clicker training, all you really must have is the clicker for dog training. We recommend this product for an inexpensive yet durable option with the most important features covered.

This clicker works with a simple metal tab placed under the large button that makes a loud and clear sound to accurately mark the correct behavior you are looking for when training. Because it works on this simple principle with no other moving parts, it is going to last and tolerate any weather conditions.

It also features a wrist strap which is a must have as it will allow you to free up your clicking hand when needed during training without losing track of where you set it down.

Company of Animals Clix Multi-Clicker Training Tool for Dogs

Company of Animals Clix Multi-Clicker Training Tool for Dogs

If your dog tends to be sensitive to loud noises, then you may find the loud click of a traditional clicker may be alarming to your pooch. This can work against your training efforts since the goal of this training technique is to associate the sound of the click with reward, not fear.

This clicker is designed to work with noise sensitive dogs by giving you the power to adjust it to a softer sound which still works to accurately mark the correct behavior without activating your dog’s fear of loud noises. And, once your dog gets more used to clicker training, you can adjust the sound to louder for effective use when training from a distance.

Clicker Training All-In-One Kit by Lanney

Another piece of equipment that is very helpful to have for any clicker training session is a treat pouch that gives you hands free access to your dog’s food motivators while training. If you do not already have one, consider this kit which includes a very well designed treat pouch, a clicker, and some other goodies to make your training sessions go smoothly.

This treat pouch has a few features that we think makes it stand out. It can be worn around the waist or over the shoulder. The treat bag has a large capacity which is especially helpful for longer training sessions. It also has a mesh pouch in the front which is great for stashing small items such as your clicker, phone, keys or other small items to keep you hands free. 


Dog Clicker Training: Is It Right For Your Furry Friend?

All dogs can benefit from clicker training because associating a reward with a sound, a key technique of operant conditioning, is foundational to how animals learn. In fact, even puppy clicker training is a great way to get young dogs started with foundation manners such as coming when called, sitting, learning to wait for their food, and other basic manners.

We hope this guide to the basics of clicker training has given you enough food for thought to give this revolutionary and humane method of training a try. Stay tuned for more in depth articles on how to succeed with this easy method to build a great relationship with your dog and help them learn everything from basic manners to fancy tricks.