Training Dogs And Humans For A More Enjoyable Life Together

By Susan Smith, East Valley Dog Training

Answers to questions are based on the information provided. It’s always a good idea to have your pet thoroughly examined by a veterinarian when having behavior problems. Although I can give general information and management suggestions on serious behavior problems such as aggression, issues such as these can be a very serious problem and a certified dog trainer should be consulted. 

I recently received a question on obesity in pet dogs. I am not a nutritionist or veterinarian, so I punted the question to Dr. Marc Schmidt of the Johnson Ranch Animal Clinic – Sue

Here’s the Skinny on Obesity in Dogs

Do you have a pudgy pooch? A corpulent canine? A fat Fido? 

In North America, overweight dogs are becoming the new norm. Obesity is accumulation of body fat.  This goes hand in hand with being overweight, so most overweight dogs also have excess body fat.

How do you know if Rover is overweight? Run your finger across the top of the fingers of your other hand.  Your dog’s ribs should feel like that along the side of the chest. And your pet should have an “hour glass figure”, a narrowing at the waist between the ribs and the hips.


    • shortens lifespan, about 2½  years on average
    • decreases quality of life as pet can’t get around as easily
      • puts dogs at  greater risk for: Cancer, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, urinary bladder stones, osteoarthritis and faster degeneration of already affected joints.  
    • can make dogs a higher anesthetic risk
    • makes them less heat tolerant.

Yet obesity is the most common preventable disease in dogs. What can you do? 

  1. Feed a specific portion (recommended by your veterinarian) in specific meals (once or twice a day).
  2. Limit treats.  
  3. If your dog doesn’t have a “Meal time” you may need to work with a trainer to get        them on a “meal program”.
  4. Don’t waste time analyzing ingredients on dog food labels. The jury is still out on what the “best” food is 
  5. Concentrate more on portion control 
  6. Don’t let your pet become a couch potato – exercise is good for both of you

If you have questions for the trainer, please send them to Susan Smith, CDBC, CPDT-KA, is a dog trainer in San Tan Valley, AZ, specializing in pet dog training as well as cat and parrot training—from obedience behaviors to serious problems such as aggression. She can be contacted at Sue is also the owner of Raising Canine, LLC which provides professional education to animal trainers.