Pet Obesity, Basic puppy obedience

Is my pet overweight?

Veterinarians assess healthy body weight using the Body Conditioning Scale, rather than an ideal number.  Generally speaking, we like to be able to feel a pet's ribs easily without having to search for them.  You can get a general idea of your pet's body condition by doing the same thing at home.  If you have palpate through squishy layers to find your pet's ribs, or if you cannot find them at all, then it is time to re-assess your pet's diet and lifestyle.

How can my pet be overweight when I follow the feeding instructions on the bag?

Most food companies grossly overestimate the amount of food our pets need.  And let's be honest, it is not in their best interests to advise pet owners to use *less* of their product!  If you are following the manufacturer's feeding instructions and your pet is overweight, switch to a reduced fat diet and cut back your pet's portions by at least 20%

Should I eliminate a feeding?

Absolutely not.  Human physicians often advise their patients to eat smaller meals more often for weight loss.  The same advice works for our pets.  Feed your pet two small meals per day, rather than one large meal.  This encourages their bodies to metabolize food, rather than storing it as fat.

What about treats?

Commercially made pet treats are astronomically high in fat, calories, sugar, and salt.  In fact, a single Milk Bone for a medium sized dog is the equivalent of a human eating a king sized Snickers Bar.  Many of my patients get several of these goodies every day.  Substitute treats for pieces of dry dog food or small, unflavored, unsalted rice cakes.


Basic Puppy Obedience

Do I really need to train my puppy?

Yes!  Puppies need to know what is expected of them so that they can figure out how to please you.  This is something he or she naturally wants to do.  Teaching them desired behaviors will help them to build self-confidence and make it easier to eliminate unwanted behaviors.

What about crate training?

I am a huge fan of crate training.  Dogs are den animals, and a crate is basically a den - a warm, cozy space where they feel safe and secure.  Puppies quickly learn that their crate is their "safe space" and will often seek it out when they are unsure or afraid.  As your puppy matures, and you decide to travel with him, you will find that it is much easier to do so with a crate-trained dog.

What about the chewing?  It's driving me crazy!

It's a rite of passage.  It's also another powerful argument in favor of crate training!  Be sure that your puppy is not roaming the house unattended, and that he knows which toys are his designated chew toys.  When taking away an unapproved chew toy such as a shoe, be sure to replace it with an approved chew toy.  This way your puppy learns what you DO like, instead of just what you DON't like.

Is it normal for them to cry through the night?

Sadly, yes.  They are babies who have been separated from their mothers, so this is a very scary time for them.  Try placing your puppy's crate in your bedroom so that he can be reassured by your scent.  This worked like a charm for our young dog who had a terrible time sleeping through the night.

What was the first command you taught your puppy?

Professional trainers will probably disagree with me on this, but I firmly believe the most important command to teach a puppy is "Wait."  Also known as doorway respect, the wait command basically means "Yes, the door is open, no you are not allowed to go through it without permission."  Doors are left open all the time.  This simple command could save your pet's life.

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