The Administrator from the Great White North, eh?
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Northern British Columbia
As I see it, you have two questions in your post that you hope that feeding the right food the right way will help answer: 1) providing proper nutrition and proper amounts of food, and, 2) meeting the pups' requirement for mental stimulation through feeding activity.
In nature, mothers would be bringing back food to the den to feed the pups and regurgitating for them. So the most natural diet that will meet all the nutritional needs of six week old pups is a well-designed raw diet (raw meat, bones, internal organs of various animals, ground up to make it easier for the pups to eat.) As pointed out, there is a raw feeding forum you can read through and check out various links from there to learn more about feeding this way. Many breeders wean their pups right onto raw.
The other part about using feeding time for mentally stimulating the pup is, in my opinion, not appropriate for six week old pups. If the reason for doing this is to mimic natural demands on the development of wild canids, six week old pups would not be working for their food. They would be staying at home, chasing each other around, harassing the adult baby-sitter dogs, and then just throw themselves on whatever the hunter dogs would have brought home, gorged themselves, then fallen asleep. I believe the early competition for food among a litter is important to develop their food drive, which in turn will help them later in life when having to work hard to track, hunt, chase, catch, and defend their own food. Giving such young dogs Kong and making them work this hard for every meal may be discouraging for them and counter-productive.
As a case study, I'm not sure what outcomes you are looking for with your questions. A bigger impact on a dog's development is the genetic temperament they have inherited. Sometimes dogs from the worst possible upbringing turn out to be stellar once put into a solid and positive environment, and often if a pup is born with a fearful, timid, and sickly disposition, then no amount of appropriate early feeding or mental stimulation will help overcome those issues. So when comparing development in pups, their inherited background is a stronger influence than the manipulated human environment.
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Keeta BH, OB1, TR1, AD
Rottweiler/Hairy Dog mix?? 2004-2015