Once-overweight canine is now half the dog he used to be

Very overweight dog loses weight with more walks, agility training, and clicker training. He went from 113 pounds down to a slim 60 pounds.
By David Dickson
Samuri the once-overweight dog yawning

Many animals dream about how wonderful life would be if only they had a bottomless food dish. Problem is, such a life wouldn’t be nearly as rosy as they imagine. Just ask Samuri.

When Samuri the dog came to Best Friends eight months ago, it was obvious that somewhere along the line he’d had access to way too much food. On his medium-sized frame, Samuri was packing 113 pounds. Yikes.

Operation trim-down for a dog

Caregivers launched a weight loss program for Samuri right away. As is typical with any weight loss strategy for the animals at Best Friends, Samuri’s included both exercise and diet.

The walks were a hit from the start. "He always likes the walks," says caregiver Tom Williams. "He loves it outside."

Sure enough, between the exercise and special food formulated for weight loss, Samuri began dropping pounds steadily.

A better outlet for a dog's energy

There was another area, however, where Samuri needed extra help. He sometimes had pent-up energy or anxiety that he frequently expressed through repetitive barking or digging.

Samuri the once-obese dog successfuly exiting a tunnel during agility work
Agility helps drain Samuri's pent-up energy.

"In addition to the weight loss plan, we’ve been doing things to help him mentally, so he’s not so anxious anymore," Tom explains. One useful strategy has been agility training. Samuri has learned how to climb on top of platforms, walk through tunnels, even traverse a slalom course. In the beginning, Samuri had to take it slow because of his size, yet as the pounds dropped, his abilities increased. Turns out he loves the mental exercise. "It’s good to keep his brain occupied," Tom says.

Additionally, back in his play area, caregivers have worked on clicker-training with basic cues. He’s been picking up skills fast. Beyond that, both Tom and caregiver Maddie Haydon have taken Samuri on sleepovers with great success. This charming dog keeps learning more all the time.

Canine weight loss success

Samuri the dog receiving some love from his caregiver
Samuri with caregiver, Tom

So, exactly how much weight has he lost? Here’s a hint. If you head over to his part of the Sanctuary to find the great big dog, you’d look right past Samuri. In eight months, he has trimmed down to (drumroll, please!) a slim 60 pounds. That’s right, over 50 pounds gone forever. For months now, he’s been maintaining a healthy weight on regular portions of normal food. No wonder he’s so happy and full of energy. "He’s a lot of fun to be with," Tom says.

A bottomless food dish clearly isn’t the answer to a happy life. But bottomless love from those around you? Now you’re talkin’. Next stop: a loving home.

Healthy weight loss for a pet

It’s never easy to resist the puppy-dog eyes of your pet when you have a bag of goodies at your disposal. Give in too often, though, and your own pet can gain weight before you know it. Here are some tips on how to help your pet achieve healthy weight loss.

Photos by Molly Wald

Caring for Pets