Far too often we tend to spoil our best friends. BUT we are not doing the dogs any favor by constantly feeding them, giving them treats etc for a couple reasons.
1. Even if your dog is only 1-5lb overweight (depending on its size) you already exposed your four legged friend to a wealth of health issues.
2. Constant sources of food and feeding can lead to food aggression.
3. Food is a wonderful training tool! I use food lures for all my classes to motivate the dogs to show the behavior I want them to do.
Let’s talk about a healthy weight first. By no means should your dog look emaciated, but a good rule of thumb is – if you can not (or barely) see the rib cage of your dog, but you can feel every rib stroking your dog, chances are your dog has a healthy weight. Your dog should also have a narrower body closer to the hip and should be wider at the shoulders.
You know when your dog looks too tubby and if you are concerned about the weight of your dog contact your vet (you can also find breed specific information online and what the ideal weight for your dog is).
Now, I am touching on a few different topics, but they are all food related. A lot of times when I ask “How much food is your dog getting and when?” I often get the answer that the dog has a food bowl sitting there all day and can eat whenever they like. Most of the time these dogs develop food aggression. Why? Dogs think pretty simple. They see you give them food, hence you are the source of food and allow them to eat. If, however the food bowl is filled all day, the next time your dog sees the food, it is just there, almost like magic and in the dogs mind it is “HIS” food. Why? Your dog didn’t see you put it there halfway through the day, hence it is the dogs food and not yours that you allowed him to eat.
Lastly, food is a great training tool. I feed my dogs twice a day and I make an obedience game of it. I fill their food bowls and set them on something high where they can see it, but not reach it. I take some kibble and ask my dogs to perform, sits, downs, and stands. In random order and reward them with their food in my hands. I usually use 1/3 to 1/2 of their food and then put the bowl down for them to eat the rest.
Always remember to exercise your dog. Next week we will cover some great games / toys to exercise your dog besides the regular walk.