Girl and her dog walking in a parkMost pet owners are guilty of falling back on treats as the “old, reliable” way to appease their pets. Granted, treats are an easy solution, especially when pressed for time. However, because it’s important to reward your pet for good behaviour (especially during training), it’s easy to see how a few treats here and there can quickly become a big problem.

With more than 50% of all pets being overweight or obese, resisting this old standby may save your pet from the health problems associated with weight gain and obesity. Thankfully, there are many ways to express your affection without the use of food or treats.

10 Great Ways to Reward Your Pet Without Treats

  1. Use verbal praise. Many dogs respond to verbal praise such as “good dog.” Your enthusiastic voice and admiration will motivate your pet to continue positive behaviours.
  2. Play with your pet. Whether it’s throwing a ball or an enticing game of chase the laser, most pets love to play – especially when their people get in on the fun.
  3. Try a new walking route. Change things up by adding new views (and smells!) for your canine to enjoy on fun-filled strolls.
  4. Give your pet a good scratch. Some dogs and cats definitely enjoy a good massage or head scratch. The secret is to know what type of touch your pet enjoys and use this as a no-calorie bonding experience for your furry friend.
  5. Offer social opportunities with a fur pal. If your dog or cat loves to play with other pets, set aside some time each week for play dates with other well-behaved pets. Consider coordinating a dog walk or hosting a doggy/kitty play date at your home.
  6. Provide some new toys. If your pet loves his or her toys, periodically swap out the old with some new intriguing toys or games. For high energy pets, choose something that will get them moving or consider a more complex puzzle toy to mentally stimulate your pet.
  7. Try a new activity. Another great way to reward your pet is to try something new like jogging, hiking, or other pet-friendly activites. This is great for bonding and burning calories!
  8. Use the clicker method. The clicker is a small device that makes a “click” sound when compressed. Use it after any good behaviour performed by your pet. For many, the clicker is enough of a reward that treats can be swapped out or tapered off during training.
  9. Go to the park. Dog parks and other outdoor areas are wonderful options to reward your pet. Not only will it be a stimulating experience – so many squirrels and birds! – it also allows for fresh air and exercise, the perfect combo.
  10. Snuggle up. Older pets (or those less inspired by rowdy play) will soak up your love and affection. Pop in a favorite movie, grab a cozy blanket, and prepare for a satisfying snuggle session with your precious pal.

If your pet is struggling in the weight department, we encourage you to be proactive in shedding those pounds. Please contact us to schedule a nutritional consultation, to set up a physical exam appointment, or for other recommendations to keep your pet at an ideal weight.