5 Things My Dog Taught Me About Weight Loss

Photo by cursedthingWe have a rescued beagle. She is my first dog, and she is about six years old. I have always loved beagles, but since living with one, I have learned the truth of beagles: it is not getting them to eat that is the problem, it is getting them to stop eating. Consequently, a recent trip to the vet put our dog at 3.5 pounds overweight. That’s a lot for a dog that’s supposed to be 20 pounds. So we put her on a diet.

The diet has been very successful. I have boiled it down to a few key points that I am implementing in my own life.

Portion Control Is A Must

In order to lose weight, you have to take in less food than the energy you spend. In the case of a beagle, portion control is an absolute must. She will eat whatever food is in her bowl, regardless of the amount. So we cut down her portion and place it in her bowl.

Human application: learn portion sizes, and put them on your plate. No seconds allowed.

Get More Exercise…

The dog would happily spend her life snoozing in a sun patch. Due to irregular schedules, the dog wasn’t being walked consistently. I started taking the dog for a pre-dawn walk every day. This is the only time I can consistently perform this task, and it ensures we both get some exercise.

Human application: exercise every day. If it means getting up earlier to get consistency, do so.

…But Nothing Outlandish

Exercise is simply getting your heart rate up and burning calories. Many of my friends, whose sole goal is to lose weight, sign up for expensive gyms and workout places. They go for a few times, and then start skipping. The dog walks. She doesn’t do aerobics, cross training or spin class. She simply walks.

Human application: walk! If all you want to do is burn calories, get out and start moving!

Replace Treats…

Since food is such a hit with the dog, we used it for training. However, she has delicate digestion…not that it keeps her from eating, but the results are undesirable if she eats something that doesn’t agree with her. So we feed her high-quality dog biscuits as a reward. And in order to re-train her when we got her, we got in the habit of giving her a biscuit every time she went outside.

We replaced the dog biscuits, at the vet’s suggestion, with baby carrots. She loves them just as much, but there are almost no calories, and no unpleasant side effects.

Human application: replace your treats with low calorie substitutes. Carrots, fresh blueberries, cucumbers, celery and other veggies have lots of fiber and low calories.

…But Allow Regular Splurges

We haven’t cut out her biscuits completely. She still gets one every day, first thing in the morning, and she sulks if we forget. But her joy and happiness, couple with a little beagle tap-dancing, at getting a biscuit, show us she really enjoys them. (Of course, she acts the same way for the carrots…)

Human application: Allow yourself one small splurge every day. The keys here are one and small.


The last trip to the vet showed a two pound weight loss. We saw a different doctor, whose only comment was, “whatever you are doing, keep it up.”

Human Results: I am exercising every day and have more energy. Although I am still struggling with the treat aspect (it is, after all, Halloween season…), I am working hard to cut back and eat healthier, portion controlled substitutes.

Photo by cursedthing