Treat-Giving 101: 3 Simple Tips to Manage Weight and Improve Behavior
You take care of yourself. You (try to) eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep.
For years, I resisted the changes my wife (a self-proclaimed healthy living junkie) was trying make in our lives. Cleaner eating, more exercise, and fewer toxic chemicals in our home, to name a few. But after experiencing what these changes have done for my health, it’s hard to argue with her logic and I’ve finally embraced this lifestyle.
But what about your dog? How can these life lessons transfer to the care of our beloved furry friends? After all, better health means more, healthy years to run, jump, and play!
This week, we’re talking treats.
Most owners (present company included) consider their dog to be a member of the family. And in our society, love is sometimes celebrated with food. Too much food (just like Grandma’s well-meaning advice to “eat, EAT!”).
Unfortunately, this backfires with dogs. In my practice, I’ve seen two extremes:
- The obese picky eater that’s become bored with their food choices and we do anything and everything to get them to eat (including feeding table scraps and endless treats)
- The obese dog that eats anything and everything in sight
Neither circumstance is ideal. First, it creates a weight problem. Second, it creates a behavior problem.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to spoil my dog every now and then, but it needs to be done with the intention to shape behaviors, not just for the heck of it. Here are three simple tips to support healthy and purposeful treat-giving:
- Give fewer treats: Just like kids, overindulging your dog will do more harm than good. Treats should be just that — a treat!
- Make them WORK for it: Require your dog to do something before handing over a treat. A dog that has to work for his reward will have greater respect for its owner and the treat at hand.
- Choose quality treats: No disrespect to Milk-Bone, but most supermarket brands are loaded with junk and fillers. Instead, opt for a healthier brand like this. Yes, you’ll pay more, but you’ll be giving less, RIGHT?
Incorporating these simple strategies to your treat-giving will yield dividends in a healthier, more behaved dog. Trust me.