I saw this article from the New York times about the epidemic of dog obesity. Obesity Epidemic in pets. I find it very sad that the obesity started with adults to child and now dogs . Child obesity has tripled in the past thirty years and about 35% of adults are obese (CDC.gov). Now dogs, O no!
When we think of unhealthy dogs we tend to think of skinny dogs due to a lack of feeding and or neglect. However, just like humans being obese is not good for their health. It is not good for their joints, can lead to diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. So what leads to dog obesity? You got it too and or the wrong types of food and too little exercise. Normal adult dogs should be fed 2x/day and the amount depends on the weight of the dog. Good quality dog food is free of wheat, corn, soy and preservatives. I give my pups Nature’s Select. Like humans, these foods just fill you up without providing any actual nutrition. Treats also want to be controlled and limited. Unlike human treats, there are many dog treats that are high in nutrition. I LOVE Zukes Mini Naturals. They have only 3 calories per bite and have a lot of good ingredients. These are great for training.
Table scraps should be limited. Especially since we usually do not realize how much they are getting and they are probably higher in calories than their normal treats. Unless they are foods such as apples, carrots etc. But if you are giving them meats and cheese these can add up to a pretty hefty number of calories.
The next step to keeping your dog healthy and happy is exercise. Exercise is not a reward for a dog, it is a must. A dog will not behave if it has a lot of pent up energy! Dogs will definitely let you know if they are not getting enough exercise.
Just ask my gloves
Or this “frisbee”
Both of my dogs are extremely high energy dogs. Dempsey is a Jack Russel mix and Riesling is a greyhound/shepherd mix. Even though we do not have an enclosed back yard does not mean they are unable to get sufficient exercise. Even dogs who have the luxury of having an enclosed back-yard does not mean they are getting the exercise they need. They may not have any motivation to run around. Many times they are just sitting outside. The only difference between this and my dogs is that the dogs who are outside are getting a tan. Because of their high energy breeds, a simple walk will not do! Dogs want to run. There are three things I mainly do with my dogs for energy. A walk to the dog park (2 miles r/t) and a 20 – 30 minute play, a 40 minute or longer run or a 30 minute bike ride. The bike ride is their favorite because they get to run the fastest and for a longer time than they would at the park or our runs. It is especially great for Riesling because she has such long legs that when I take her on a run she is just trotting while Dempsey is sprinting behind her.
So they don’t actually bike ride, I bike ride and they run beside me with their leash. I first did this with Dempsey because he was my first dog. It was harder to train him because he had ‘beef’ with bikes. He would bark at them when they passed by which is not cool because DC is a huge bike city, love it! So at first I walked the bike with him by my side. Then I sat on the bike and made him sit until he was comfortable. Once he got comfortable I started riding slow and picked up the pace as he was ready. Of course I did not do this at first on the side walk with lots of people. I went to an empty parking lot so I could have lots of room. This is the BEST exercise for him, he is wiped after 20 minutes!
After we got Riesling I trained her separately. She was easier to train because she was never afraid of the bike, but Dempsey is a better bike rider. Riesling is a little bit of a “space cadet” and she does not always pay attention. Luckily she is not very strong so when she does go off track, I can easily pull her back in. Once I was comfortable bike riding them separately I rode them both at the same time! I was super nervous to do this and put it off for several weeks, but it was not hard at all. They both ran by my side and did not try to pull me off track!
In this video, Riesling is pulling a bit more than usual because she sees Matt ahead.
(please tell me if you cannot open this link)
I also want to point out that she has a longer leash, this is helpful because she can run faster than Dempsey.
If you have a super energetic dog try a bike ride. It may take some time, but it is well worth the results. Of course think safety first. When riding I am always on the lookout for things that set them off like deer! If I see a deer while riding I would definitely hop off the bike and handle the issue on foot rather than wheels!
If you do not feel comfortable taking your pup for a bike ride, just make sure they run!
Nice and tired!