Getting fit with Fido

Every January 1st most of us make New Year’s Resolutions of getting fit and being better people.  And, by January 31st most of us have forgotten those New Year’s resolutions.

Unfortunately many of us just don’t take very good care of ourselves.

But as pet lovers, we do try to take good care of our dogs.  However, being overweight and no exercise has become a big problem in the pet population also.  So this year, team up your weight loss and exercise resolutions with the same resolutions for your pet.  This just might make you stick to your goals better.

According to research from the University of Missouri, people who walk dogs are more consistent about regular exercise and show more improvement in fitness than people who walk with a human companion.  In this study, to the suprise of the researchers, the dog walkers showed a big improvement in fitness, while the people who chose a human to walk with, began making excuses to skip the workout.  Walking speed among the dog walkers increased by 28% compared with jua a 4% increase among the human walkers!

Also, we all know how we’re not supposed to snack and overload our plates with food.  Well, the same goes for our dogs.  Using treats to begin shaping training is fine, just don’t overdo it and wean off treats quickly.  Give healthy treats like raw organic carrots or simply pieces of quality dry dog kibble.  You could even snack on some of those carrots!  Also, really think about how much food you’re giving your dog at each meal.  Dog food producers want to sell dog food, so generally speaking, the amounts they suggest for feeding are usually too much.  An adult 17# dog, which gets sufficient exercise everyday, should be fine with approximately 1/4 to 1/3 cup of food 2 times a day.  An adult 70# dog that also gets sufficient exercise should get approximately  1 1/2 to 2 cups of food 2 times a day.  Try adding cooked vegetables to your dog’s food if Fido’s a little flabby.  Cut back on the kibble and replace some of that with cooked spinach, cooked broccoli, sweet potatoes or peas.  Dogs love that and it’s good for them.  Good veggies for you too!

Speaking of quality food, make sure you are making good choices for yourself.  Back off on the processed carbs and fat; choose fresh foods as much as possible.  Now is also a good time to check the ingredients in your dog food so you can make a good choice there.  Dogs don’t care if it looks pretty, or smells like bacon.  What is important is the quality of the ingredients in their food.  The first thing mentioned on the ingredients list needs to be a high quality protein, such as chicken, beef or lamb or turkey, NOT corn meal or any other low quality carbohydrate.  High quality “meals (chicken meal, beef meal) made of those whole meats listed above are also ok.  Whole grains, vegetables and fruits are good things to find in dog food.   Look for bad preservatives such as BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin. Another bad additive is propylene glycol.  Many dogs have allergies to wheat, corn and soy.  Don’t buy foods that contain such things as animal fat, animal digest or meat meal or foods whose protein is derived almost completely from “meat by-products.

Quality dog food is like quality human food, you get what you pay for.  “There is a terrific publication called “Whole Dog Journal”, all of our Petiquette trainers encourage dog owners to subscribe.  It’s the “Consumer Reports” for dogs and every February they do a thorough rating of all dry and canned dog foods.You’ll be amazed! ”

The dreaded “E” word.  Yes, exercise is important for both you and your dog.  Realize that daily walks are central to the well being of your dog.  If you won’t get out and walk for yourself, get out and walk for your dog.  Walk at a pace as if you were late for an appointment, don’t just leisurely stroll.  The dividends are enormous.  You’ll be surprised how something as simple as a walk not only burns calories for you and your dog, it gets endorphins going for both you and your dog also.  What a great way to meet other folks in your area who have dogs, a great conversation starter!

Exercise is also a terrific way to manage your dog’s energy.  I always encourage owners who are having behavioral issues with their dogs, to include walking as part of the behavior modification.  This simple exercise not only manages the dog’s energy, it allows you to show leadership when you control the walk.

Last but not least, some of us make New Year’s resolutions to be better people.  That means different things to all of us.  But, being a better dog is pretty simple.  A good dog is one that understands boundaries and restrictions, has good house manners or “Petiquette” as we call it.  No jumping, house soiling, barking, tearing things us.

Make a decision to make your dog a better dog this year.  – “‘OPPORTUNITY BARKS!”

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