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Dog Health: How to take your dog from frantic to fabulous now

Obesity isn’t just for humans.  It's for Dog Health as well.

tank_before

A portly puggle before his makeover.

Peter and His Portly Puggle

The following case study is a specific focus on the importance of dog health.  Peter is a techie who works from home.  He lives with his three year old puggle named Tank.  A puggle is a cross dog breed between a pug and a beagle.  Unfortunately Tank lives up to his name in more ways than one.  First of all Tank should weigh about sixteen pounds but what he actually weighs is closer to twenty-one pounds.  That is about 24% overweight.  If Tank were a human he would be considered morbidly obese which could take years off of his life just like a human.  This extra weight will also take a toll on Tank’s joints and overall health not to mention the increased vet bills.

A Bored Tank Leaves a Path of Destruction

Not only is Tank built like a four footed furry Sherman tank he also barrels through the house like one.  As Tank takes off with a case of the zoomies he takes down lamps and digs into a couple of potted plants and if Peter wasn’t paying attention he sometimes got taken down from behind also.  Fortunately because of Tank’s excess weight these out of control episodes only lasted for a few minutes.  Left alone Tank could leave the living room looking like a war zone and that didn’t even take into account the chewed up shoes and destroyed TV remotes.  One day when Peter was very focused on work, Tank was feeling particularly destructive and decided that the couch cushion looked like a really good stuffed toy.  You can take it from there.

The Single Best Answer to Stop this Train Wreck

Life sounds pretty much like a train wreck at Peter and Tank’s house but there is hope.  What was the one thing that could make everything a whole lot better at Peter’s house?  Dog boot camp?  Not quite.  Exercise and physical activity would help wear Tank out and bring his weight down to a healthy level.  However, that doesn’t mean Peter put a couple of pairs of running shoes on Tank and locked him out in the yard for a couple of hours every day.  After all there are plenty of fat dogs out there with big back yards.  Tank wasn’t going to wake up one day and say “I’m feeling a little heavy today.  I think I’m going to run a few laps around the yard.”  Nope, he wasn’t gonna do that.

After the Dog Health Vet Check:  Three Simple Steps to Sanity

Considering just how overweight Tank was Peter took him to his local vet and got a professional opinion on Tank’s fitness level.  Peter switched Tank to a healthy high quality dog food and then he started walking Tank twice a day for twenty minutes at a time.  As Tank became more fit his walks got longer and faster.  This is something that has to be done within reason because just like an athlete training for his first marathon the longer you train the more fit you get and the longer it takes to get tired out.  Keep in mind that Peter does have a job to do still.

So, Peter also taught Tank to play fetch next.  That only lasted for about five minutes at a time before poor Tank was completely winded but it was a start.  Since Tank was so heavy he really wasn’t used to playing with active toys so Peter had to spend some time training Tank to encourage any interaction with the ball at first.  The great thing about Tank learning to play fetch was that he got a chance to run full tilt as fast as he could go and Peter didn’t have to try to keep up.  Most humans can’t outrun a physically fit Chihuahua.  This gave Tank the opportunity to really push his muscles and feel like a real dog.

The third step of Tank’s new fitness program involved getting rid of his traditional food dish.  All of Tank’s food now came from dog puzzle toys and project toys.  He was no longer allowed to just stand in one spot and gulp his food all at once in seconds.  Dinner was now interactive and Tank was now an apex predator hunting down every bite by rolling a treat ball around the room and bouncing kibble out of rubber bones.

A Happy New Lease on Life for Both Peter and Tank

Image of Tank after his makeover.

An after makeover photo of a puggle being very svelte.

And what is the end result of all of this walking, playing fetch and hunting for dinner?  First of all, both Peter and Tank have lost weight and are feeling much better.  Tank has stopped chewing on the furniture and remote controls.   Not only is Tank much calmer but since he can stop stressing over what Tank is doing, Peter is more relaxed and focused for work.  This means Peter is much more productive at work giving him more free time to enjoy walking and playing with his dog.   They have a real relationship now.  And with less destructiveness and Tank’s improved health, Peter is saving money that he can use for more fun activities like buying even cooler dog toys and maybe a Frisbee to teach Tank another new game.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laurie Yakish is a dog trainer and dog behavior specialist working in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She is certified through Animal Behavior College but more importantly Laurie was mentored by Gary Wilkes who pioneered clicker training and many other groundbreaking behavior modification protocols.  Laurie is an active member of IACP (International Association of Canine Professionals).  Dog obsessed since she was four years old, by seven she was frustrating the daylights out of her mother by stealing snacks out of the cupboards to use as treats to train her dog Pepper to play high jump.

You can learn more about Laurie and her unique brand of dog training by visiting  www.dogtraininglauriesway.com

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