Nothing works quite like a treat when training your dog. But, could our love of using dog treats in training our pets be the reason for an alarming rise in dog obesity?
Think of it; most of the textbooks tell you to use them. For instance, when you want to train your dog to come on command. Stand a few meters away from your dog; call him by name, wave a treat around, and he will come running.
And that’s not all, what about when you leave your dog alone whilst you are at work? Keeping him amused when you are away is a vital part of reducing the risk of separation anxiety. Filling a Knog toy with a lovely treat and leaving it for your dog to chew on is a popular way of helping him pass the time until your return.
Then there are those times when you just want to tell your dog how much you love him. What better way than throwing him a yummy treat to chew on.
Without doubt, many owners give out treats to their dog in abundance. However, such excess can come at a price. When giving their dog a balanced diet, many owners do not include all the extra treats they give when calculating their dogs’ calorie intake.
One fatty treat leads to another, which leads to more, and before you know it Fido is fat. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, about 44% of all dogs in the USA are overweight or obese.
An obese dog can literally be crippled by pain. There is also an increased risk of heart disease and cancer. Without doubt, obesity can be a big problem for your dog.
Obviously, as a responsible owner, you want to do the right thing for your pet. So, should you stop giving him treats?
As already pointed out, rewards make for a good incentive when training your dog. Treats can also help to keep him amused whilst you are not there. In addition, they can spice up your dogs life and help you let him know how much you care.
What needs to change is the way owners use treats in their dogs everyday life.
Make sure you factor your dogs’ treats into his everyday calorie intake. For a balanced diet, treats should make up no more than 15% of your pets total food needs.
When training your dog, don’t always reward him with a treat when he gets an exercise right. Some gentle words of praise, petting your dog, or giving him some attention work just as well.
In addition, when training your dog, don’t always rely on a treat as a motivator. For instance, when training him to come on command, stand a few meters away from your dog, and then try calling him whilst waving a tennis ball or favourite toy. It will work just as well as a treat. In addition, you can then use a game of fetch as his reward.
If you have to leave your dog alone for any length of time, then a Kong stuffed with treats can be a good way of keeping him amused. Instead of filling the Kong with fatty commercial treats, why not try healthier options such as low fat cheese, frozen fruit (not grapes), or scrambled egg.
And, what better way to show your dog how much you love him then to give him treats you’ve made yourself at home. They are easy to make, and a lot cheaper than commercial dog treats. You can also control the ingredients that go into them ensuring they are always healthy and low in fat.
There is nothing wrong with giving dog treats to your pet. In the end, all that matters is that you do it with your pets’ health in mind. After all, no loving dog owner wants their dog to be obese, do they!