Dog Training is Like Dieting!

Posted by PetSteps DogTraining on Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Analogies are often useful to help us see a different perspective. My analogy that Dog Training is Like Dieting goes like this…

The basic principles for each activity fundamentally are pretty straight forward:

  • Dieting - Reduce caloric intake, increase caloric expenditure
  •  Dog Training – Reward the positive behaviors, prevent or ignore the negative behaviors

So why is it that so many people fail at both or either one? Simplistically it really is because we do not or cannot follow these simple rules. The reasons why we can’t follow these rules can go something like this:



Dog Training

Genetic Limitation

Some people have different metabolisms that do not easily shed pounds

Breed characteristics and drives can be strong motivators to overcome

Unreal expectations

We want to lose weight fast

We want instantly perfect dogs


We want our bodies to be something they are not meant to be

We obtain a dog for their looks, not temperament


We don’t want to give up the things we love to eat

We really don’t have the time it takes to train to our expectations

Quick Fix Temptation

We pop those pills or drink those shakes because of the promise of a quick fix

We purchase those magic collars and harnesses and purchase those pet corrector gadgets for an insta-fix


We think going to a 6 week fitness boot camp will solve the problems forever

We think sending our dog to a 6 week training class will make our dogs completely “trained”

The devil’s in the details

Reducing calories alone can make you sick if you don’t also maintain the proper nutrient intake

Who is to say what’s rewarding to any particular dog


Are you generally healthy otherwise or is there an underlying medical condition

Is your dog physically healthy and properly socialized from the beginning or are you struggling against pre-existing issues


Is the rest of your life in chaos as well, too much work, not enough rest, personal issues

Are you able to provide structure to your dog’s life or are they locked in a kennel for 14 hours a day

Consequences for doing it wrong

You can create serious health issue from yo-yo dieting or taking too many diet pills

Your dog can become shut down and learn to suppress negative behavior only to have them show up “unexpectedly” and possibly do damage.

In order to have permanent success in dog training, you need to take a complete and consistent approach. This complete approach is summarized in the Human Hierarchy.

It is easier to start out with a complete approach and understanding to both our health and our dog training. Unfortunately in both cases we often wait until it’s too late and we need “emergency” interventions. You don’t change your eating habits until your doctor tells you you have diabetes. You don’t train your dog early in life and then consider surrendering it to a shelter when it bites someone or destroys your furniture. Also in both cases we sometimes need some help or coaching. If you at least identify you cannot achieve your goals on your own, it’s best to find some help whether it be a dietitian or a dog trainer.