As a nation of pet lovers, we're all conscious of our pet's health and well-being. We spend most of our free time trying to exercise and tire them out - if only to give ourselves a bit of a break - and can't bear the thought of our pets being unhealthy or out of shape.
But, still, we LOVE to give them treats!
What's that about?
Try as we might to keep them fit, we pet owners often feel the temptation to over indulge our furry friends. Not only do we love to see their excitement at the 'magic word', we also use treats as a way of bonding with our pets - it makes us feel like we're good parents!
However, over feeding our pets can bring about a variety of health issues, as well as bad habits that can cause a strain on yours and your pet's relationship.
Here are some simple ways to manage your pet's begging, and promote a positive attitude to food:
Talk To Your Vet
Before you make any changes to your pet's diet, it's imperative that you consult your vet for advice on the best way to go about it.
Especially if you're making extreme changes - ie. treats make up a significant part of your pet's diet - we'd always suggest talking to a vet about how to make the change easier, as well as what's best for the animal. Dietary changes can have a significant effect on your pet's body, and you don't want it to cause them any upset or discomfort.
So, always seek advice before you get going with any new regimes.
Treats As Treats
One of the biggest mistakes that pet owners make is over-treating their pets, so that treats become an expected norm.
This kind of behaviour goes right against the purpose of treats: to reward your pets for good behaviour! Instead, giving them treats as a routine part of the day generates an expectation, which will eventually contribute to weight gain.
Limit treats to one or two per day - still treat your pet, but make sure they associate the reward with good behaviour.
As we say, over-treating your pets will bring about bad habits, which can often include begging at mealtimes. This is a big no no.
There are two main ways to prevent this behaviour:
- Feed your pets at the same time you sit down to eat: By doing this, you'll distract your pet's attention and hopefully stop them from begging for food at the table. If they do start to beg, stop them immediately and, if necessary, remove them from the room. It sounds harsh, but it's the only way that they'll learn.
- You decide when they get fed, not the other way around: If you give in and feed your pets whenever they ask, you'll develop an expectation that this will happen every time. Instead, make a conscious effort not to succumb - no matter how cute they look! Once you've got them into the habit, it'll all become a lot easier.
Balance Food And Exercise
Of course, we're not saying that you should never treat your pets. As with anything, it's all about balance!
In the same way that we balance our calorie intake with our physical output, doing the same with your pets will help to keep them trim. So, why not treat them after a walk, or a long session of fetch?
So long as they're getting a bit of a workout, you can justify giving them a treat. Or, why not try one of these healthy treats instead?
The key to changing your pet's behaviour is simple - consistency!
You're in charge, so you need to have the motivation and will power to implement a consistent routine to help your pet. Remember, they probably won't understand what's happening, so you want to make it as normal as possible, and encourage them along the way.
Ignore their begging but be supportive. After the first week or so, it'll all get a lot easier.
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