People often show their love through food. Some mothers love to cook for their kids and encourage them to eat up. When someone has a Birthday people often take them to dinner, bake them a cake, or buy them some nice candy. Valentine’s Day is all about couples going to dinner and the exchange of candy. To some people “quality time” with friends and family is spent going out to eat.
People also show their pets that they love them through food. Some people give their dog the recommended serving on the food package and then a little extra just because they love them. Some people get sad when their dog acts like it is hungry so they give them some table scraps. Some people “make their dog happy” by giving them a treat every time they “ask”. In my experience, people are uncomfortable if they feel like they are “denying” their dog anything food related.
Unfortunately, this has led to an obesity epidemic. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 55.6% of US Dogs are Overweight or Obese. Some of the major health risks to pets that are overweight or obese are high blood pressure, heart and respiratory disease, kidney disease, many forms of cancer and a decreased life expectancy (up to 2.5 years).
Over feeding is one of the biggest influences on a pet being obese. Perhaps we need to look for other ways to show our dogs that we love them.
Here are 10 alternatives to food and treats that will help strengthen the bond between you and your dog:
- Give your dog 5 minutes of undivided attention
- Give your dog a hug (IF your dog likes hugs – these signs of distress will tell you if they don’t)
- Take your dog for a walk
- Play a game like tug-o-war or fetch
- Teach your dog a new trick (like jumping through a hoop or how to roll over)
- Play hide the treat (like in k-9 nosework – here is how to get started)
- Give your dog a massage (also a good opportunity to check for lumps or abnormalities)
- Go for a hike
- Spend some time watching your dog (like 15 minutes – doing it both inside and outside of the house helps) and trying to learn what their body language is telling you.
- Sing to them (dogs love to hear our voice – singing in the car on a mini-road trip is even better!)
Now that people are recognizing that fido’s waistline is expanding, and showing love through food is not helping, movement is becoming the new affection.
What are some ways you could show your dog love that doesn’t involve food or treats? Is there something extra special he/she likes?