We had a reader ask us about their agility dog in regards to weight. They had been competing in dog agility with their dog from an early age and just found out the dog was nine pounds overweight. They thought that being in dog agility would keep their dog at a healthy weight and because in this case it didn’t so was agility a waste of time.
To be honest you need more information to give a somewhat educated answer to this question, but it does raise some very good points as to a dog’s weight and their involvement in dog agility. The first question is how big is the dog. Nine pounds isn’t that much for a optimal weight of 1oo pounds, whereas, nine pounds could be a death sentence to an optimal weight of 15 pounds. Second question is how much of that weight is fat. An active, athletic dog will have more muscle which weighs more than fat so those nine pounds may not be as big an issue if the dog is fit.
The reader also pointed out that the dog was older, it is possible that the dog has an underlying condition that has contributed to weight gain such as thyroid or kidney problems. It is possible that the agility has actually been helping the dog not to gain more weight. Be sure to bring your concerns up to your vet so they can do tests on your older dogs and rule out any health conditions.
Dog agility itself will not keep a dog from gaining weight, especially if you are the weekend warrior type. A dog needs consistent, daily exercise to keep their weight in check and keep them fit for doing dog agility. Walking, jogging, bike riding, flirt poles, and games like fetch are great ways to keep their muscle tone up and weight down.
Also, depending on the amount of time spent training, some dogs will put on the pounds from the caloric intake of the treats. Be sure you are using non-grain, low-fat treats. Some dogs will go nuts over carrots, lettuce, apples, raw potatoes, and even their own kibble. If you buy or make treats, break them down into pea sized bites so you are using less quantity. You can always give jackpot rewards when the dog gives a great try. Just be careful when using hard treats during training that you give your dog time to chew and swallow so they don’t choke.
Dog agility is one of the best ways to keep you and your dog fit when you incorporate it into your daily routine. If you and your dog need more help, consider diet changes and increase level of activity as mentioned. And do keep in mind to always check with your vet to ensure your dog’s weight, age, and health are a green light for starting dog agility. Too much extra weight can cause your dog problems with jumping and climbing.