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Overweight dog? What to do?

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Overweight dog? What to do?

With studies suggesting that around one-third of UK dogs are overweight, it’s clear that greater attention to canine diet is vital. Just like humans, dogs can suffer from all sorts of health problems due to excess pounds. Sore joints, fatigue, Type II diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, skin disease and liver problems in dogs can all be caused or made worse by being overweight. No pet owner would want their dogs to end up with one or more of these unpleasant diseases: sadly, with the dog population getting fatter, a rise in these ailments is almost inevitable.

Life is no fun for an overweight dog

As well as the increased risk of disease, dogs also experience a reduced quality of life when they are obese. Walks become less fun; dogs may find it difficult to find a comfortable position in which to rest, due to an unwanted spare tyre and too much of the wrong sort of food can also cause digestive problems. Stomach aches, wind, flatulence, constipation or diarrhoea are also common and skin can become itchy or dry, which is uncomfortable and can lead to excessive scratching. The scratching, in turn, can lead to further skin issues.

Why do dogs become overweight?

Again, the answer to this question is very much the same as the reasons that humans become overweight: not only do they get given too much food to eat, they also get given the wrong sort of food to eat. Like humans, dogs are drawn to calorie-dense foods and will happily eat as much as you give them! Giving dogs human food, sharing snacks or providing high-calorie rewards for good behaviour can all mean that your dog ends up with far more calories than they actually need. Paradoxically, many overweight dogs are also malnourished, as their nutrition quality is poor, consisting of too many empty calories rather than good, solid nutrition.

What can I do if my dog is overweight?

Clearly, if your dog is overweight, the first thing to do is to establish why. Although in most cases canine obesity is simply down to diet, it’s worth getting your pet checked over by a vet to make sure there aren’t any underlying issues. If it’s clear that the main reason for the excess weight is too much food, placing your dog on a nutritious, low-calorie diet is the next step. Choosing a good grain-free food with healthy ingredients (always check out the ingredients before buying!) may the best way to help your dog lose weight. Alternatively, simply reducing the amount your dog is given to eat may be enough to encourage weight loss.

Treats for dogs on a diet

Although dogs absolutely do not need treats in order to be happy and healthy, many owners can’t resist treating their pet now and then. Treats can also be helpful in reinforcing good behaviour. A healthy choice for dogs on a diet is a wheat-free treat. Made from high-quality ingredients which haven’t been “bulked out” with wheat, wheat-free treats contain just a few premium ingredients such as meat, gravy and potatoes. These foods contain valuable nutrients, ensuring your dog ends up with a treat that actually does them good, rather than simply being empty calories. Highly palatable, wheat-free treats are also gentle on the stomach – a real advantage for older or less well dogs. The treats are also small ones! This means that one or two a day won’t add significantly to daily calorie intake, helping your dog to win the inch-loss war! If you want a tasty, nutrient dense snack that adds value to a dog’s diet, wheat-free treats can work really well.

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The pros and cons of clicker training

Clicker and Grain Free Poultry Treats

The pros and cons of clicker training

The clicker training technique is one of the most widely used dog training methods in the world.

As with all training techniques, there are some limitations to the method. With so many different explanations and techniques by dog trainers and experts for using a clicker, it’s no wonder that it can sometimes be confusing for beginners just starting to use a clicker.

In the majority of cases, it’s the human factor and the way the clicker is being used that leads to problems and complications when training your dog.

Make sure you understand why you are clicking

Only once you know and understand why you are clicking will your dog begin to understand your command and be able to conclude what behaviour is being rewarded.

Be aware of your environment

All animals, and dogs, in particular, are very sensitive to the environment they are in. To get the most out of clicker training, it’s important to limit the environmental impact on your dog by carefully managing and arranging the area you conduct your training. As with most correctional training, if used incorrectly, unsuccessful clicker training can cause your dog to have unintended behaviours.

The pros and cons of clicker training for your dog

If carried out correctly, the benefits of clicker training can be substantial and include:

  • Clicker training helps your dog learn commands faster as the click provides instant positive feedback for your dog. The click explains in clear terms what was expected and which behaviour is being reinforced and your dog is being rewarded for.
  • Clicker training is reward based. Small grain free training treats can allow for much longer sessions than training that does not reinforce desired behaviour with a reward.
  • Clicker training is widely regarded as the best training technique for helping to build a strong bond and relationship between the dog and the trainer.
  • You can command your dog to complete numerous repetitions of the same activity without a slide in interest or motivation.

The cons and most common complications and limitations of clicker training:

  • If clicker training is not conducted correctly, particularly the phase when you transition from continuous clicker reward to inconsistent and then random reward reinforcement, or if your dog has a low interest in the reward being offered, then the desired behaviour being reinforced is more likely to be forgotten without the prolonged use of the reward.
  • Clicker training is based on a reward for the desired behaviour. If your dog has a low interest in food or treats and you can’t find a reward that your dog values enough, you may encounter some difficulty when using clicker training.

Find out More with the FREE ‘Dog Clicker Training’ ebook

If you think clicker training might be for you have a look at Bounce and Bella’s Dog Clickers – they all come with a free ‘dog clicker training’ ebook.

Clicker and Grain Free Poultry Treats
Clicker and Grain Free Poultry Treats and FREE ebook ‘Dog Clicker Training’

‘Dog Clicker Training’ eBook Sample:

How to Use a Dog Clicker

Using a dog clicker is simple, but you need to be clear to follow the simple steps carefully so that the message is clear for your dog. If you are uncertain and use the clicker inappropriately then you will find that your dog is confused. Remember that your dog can only learn from what you teach them and try to be consistent with your use at all times. This will make it far easier for your dog to understand and follow your training.

Teach Your Dog to Associate a Click With a Reward

The first step in using a clicker to train a dog is in teaching them to associate a click with a reward. You can do this very simply by taking a handful of treats in one hand and the clicker in the other. The dog does not need to do anything at this stage to ‘earn’ a reward. Click the dog clicker and give your dog one treat. You should then wait for a short period and then do the same again. Within 10 clicks your dog should be made aware that a click results in a reward. Wait for a few minutes and repeat the process. Your dog then should be certain what is meant by a click. Once this is done you will be ready to begin clicker training with your dog as it will now associate clicking with reward.

You can watch this in action here with Pam’s Dog Academy:

Click During the Action, Not Afterwards

The most important element in the use of a dog clicker is to click DURING the desired behaviour and not once it has been completed. The timing of the click is important because it reinforces the behaviour as a reward. The click is a congratulation for carrying out a behaviour that is good.

When you are click training your dog it will be common for your dog to stop a behaviour when you click at first. This is not uncommon and should not be alarming because the click will stop the behaviour so that they can get a treat. You can give the treat once the behaviour has stopped because it is the timing of the click that matters, not the timing of the treat. Remember that it is the click that counts as praise. The treat is simply used to reinforce this.

Always Follow a Click with a Treat

While the timing of the treat is not important in itself, it is important that you always follow a click with a treat. The click is a congratulatory sound that your dog will associate with a treat and this will keep them filled with a desire to please you. If you withdraw the treats then the reward will be diminished and the training will be lessened. If you run out of treats then you should stop using the clicker until you can get some more Bounce and Bella treats because the click must always be associated with a treat.

Remember that click training is a specific process that should be carried out for a short period of time only. It is not an ongoing process to be used at all times. If you are engaging in click training then use the clicker and give the treats. If you are not engaging in click training then don’t use the clicker at all. You can still reward good behaviour with treats when you are not using the clicker, but you should never use the clicker outside of training.

Teach Your Dog That Responding to You Earns Treats

The most basic skill to teach your dog with clicker training is that responding to you earns rewards. This is a hugely important skill to teach your dog because this gives you control. If your dog ignores a command then your dog is not under control, so you need to instill the understanding that listening to you is a good thing to do.

To do this you should use commands to communicate to your dog. When the dog responds to your command then you should click and give your dog a treat. If your dog does not respond to your command then you do not click and your dog does not get a treat. Your dog will very quickly learn to understand that listening to you is a good thing. The most important element here is to only click when the dog responds. Wait until the dog returns to you or obeys your command and click while the behaviour is being carried out. This will reinforce good behaviours and in doing so will stamp out bad behaviours.

More from the ebook …

  • Use the Clicker to Reinforce Behaviour
  • Clicker to Get Your Dog’s Attention
  • Clicker and Punishment
  • How to Develop New Behaviours
  • Teach in Small Steps
  • Replacing the Click
  • Never Stop Rewarding
  • Never Stop Training

If you think clicker training might be for you have a look at Bounce and Bella’s Dog Clickers – they all come with a free ‘dog clicker training’ ebook.

Clicker and Grain Free Poultry Treats
Clicker and Grain Free Poultry Treats and FREE ebook ‘Dog Clicker Training’

Dog Clicker
Dog Clicker and Grain Free Poultry Treats
Dog Clicker and Grain Free Fish Treats

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Why a grain free diet is better for your dog this autumn

Why a grain free diet is better for your dog this autumn

As the summer draws to a close and the cooler nights start drawing in, it’s not just ourselves we need to take care of. Our furry friends also need the best healthy dog treats in order to stay happy and full of energy.

There are a few benefits of grain free treats for the dog in your life, especially as the seasons change.

More energy

Grain-free dog food is usually higher in protein with fewer carbohydrates, meaning they’ll feel fuller for longer, and have more energy to boot.

This is especially useful for colder days when you need to venture out for walks and don’t want your pooch to lack halfway along. It also means they won’t be inclined to eat as much, keeping them at a healthy weight.

Fuelling your pet with a grain free food will help to store much-needed energy for exercise, and for keeping warm, too. More energy not only keeps your dog out of a mid-day slump, but it also means they’re likely to be more enthusiastic about going out for said walk, no matter the weather!

Healthy skin and coat

Many grain free dog treats are packed with vital vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E. Vitamin E benefits for dogs range from internal factors to external, such as a super glossy coat and healthy skin.

Dogs can’t always tell us when their skin is irritating them, but we can see when they need a little extra TLC from the condition of their coat. Vitamins found in grain-free food mean a soft, smooth and glossy mane, and nourished skin, just what they need ahead of the cold months when the change in temperature and increase in central heating is likely to accelerate skin drying. They can’t use moisturiser like us!

Increases concentration

A healthy diet helps increase concentration in pets, as it does in animals. With grain free treats, your dog can have a healthy body and a healthy mind to boot.

This means a better-behaved pooch, which can lead to better training. Dogs need to be at the height of their concentration as we head into Autumn – if they’re being trained when it’s colder, they may get easily bored.

The best treats for clicker training are those high in protein, such as fish and poultry. These are widely known to benefit larger dogs, too, such as the best dog treats for training German Shepherds.

For more on how to train a dog with treats, as well as positive reinforcement dog training tips, check out the rest of our blog, but in the meantime, keep on reading.

May reduce allergies

Just like us, dogs can also suffer from food allergies and intolerances. If you feel your pet is becoming slightly sluggish or becoming unwell soon after eating, it’s a good idea to try a grain-free diet to see if it improves. Again, ensuring your pooch is at optimum health when the Autumn comes may help reduce them picking up any nasty bugs come winter time.

Treats for dogs on a diet such as the grain free variety don’t have to be boring either, there’s plenty to choose from so your dog doesn’t get tired of the same dishes (just as we would!).

For more on the best dog training treats and grain free dog treats UK dogs love, explore the blog or check out the full range.

Photo: Wet Pupppy by MSVG licensed under Creative commons 2
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4 reasons why you should put your senior dog on a senior diet!

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4 reasons why you should put your senior dog on a senior diet

Unfortunately there are some harsh realities about dealing with an older dog, but they are your family and ideally you want them to be around and healthy for many, many years to come. A good diet and the right treats can help manage the downsides of ageing to ensure that your gorgeous dog goes through their twilight years comfortable and happy.

Continue reading 4 reasons why you should put your senior dog on a senior diet!

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Four ways to reduce flatulence in dogs

Gracie taught me the joy of rolling in the grass... by Bennilover CC 6.0

Four ways to reduce flatulence in dogs

Being the owner of a dog that passes a lot of gas can be embarrassing and unpleasant. Some breeds, like Boxers and Bulldogs, are naturally more flatulent than others, but if you think your dog’s flatulence is excessive, there may be some things you can do to help ease the problem…

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Why switch to grain-free food for your pooch this summer?

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Why switch to grain-free food for your pooch this summer?

The summer is well on its way and we couldn’t be more excited. For dog owners, this means lighter evenings and warmer days to take your pooch for a walk, which is a huge bonus. Not only that, but it also means it’s a great time to review your pet’s diet and ensure it’s the best and healthiest it can be.

As we head into the warmer months, your pet’s diet can have a huge impact on their behaviour and well-being, so it’s important to know what’s best for your dog. One way of doing this is to look at the benefits of grain-free treats…

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Top tips for when putting your dog on a diet

Top tips for when putting your dog on a diet

Are you concerned that your dog is overweight? Perhaps they have a pot belly or feel much heavier when you lift them up. If you are concerned, then the likelihood is that your dog is overweight. In most cases, the average household dog is 15% overweight! This is when you need to take action. Below we share some helpful tips when you need to put your dog on a diet…

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Photo: Dog by brugui licensed under Creative commons 2
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How to know if your dog needs a diet change

How to know if your dog needs a diet change

As a pet owner, you are most likely used to feeding your dog a specific routine diet, such as high-quality dry food for dogs, or a mix of raw foods and dry foods. However, have you ever wondered if your dog may need a change in their diet to help them stay happy and healthy?

To determine whether your dog needs a shift in their diet, there are a few things you should be looking out for. We discuss some of the signs below…

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Top 5 sports to try with your dog

Top 5 sports to try with your dog

There’s nothing wrong with taking your four-legged friend to the park for a game of fetch – but it can get a bit boring. The great thing about clicker training is how quickly dogs learn to react. Once you’ve mastered the art of training with treats, you’ll find that it’s easier than ever to try new and exciting activities with your dog. Why not give one of these fun hobbies a go?

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What exactly is clicker training?

dog clicker training

What exactly is clicker training?

There are many forms of training with treats that dog owners may wish to try, with clicker training being one of the most popular. The name refers to the handheld mechanical clicker used by the trainer: it’s clicked when the dog displays the exact behaviour that the trainer is looking for, and a treat is given straight after.

How does it work?

Continue reading What exactly is clicker training?