Is Existential Feeding the Solution to Pet Obesity?

Dod Feeding

If you own a pet, there is almost no doubt you love your furry companion. Unfortunately, loving our pets to death is a real problem. Studies have shown that 59% of pets (dogs and cats) [1] worldwide are overweight. Understandably, how, and what we feed our four-legged family members is a controversial topic.

At Pawsome Dogsports we like to utilize existential feeding, especially pertaining to training dogs. In this post we will cover:

  • What is existential feeding?
  • Why you should use it?
  • How to use it.

Existential feeding is when you use your dog’s normal caloric allowance (their meal) as a reward during training. This does not mean you are starving your dog or withholding the opportunity to eat from them. It is like a lunch break during school. There is a window in which it is appropriate to eat and once that window is closed, eating is taken off the table for some time.

 Why you should use it.

There are many benefits for feeding existentially. Some include enhanced bond between you and your dog, a more fulfilled dog, and increased results in training.

Feeding existentially involves being the primary source of sustenance (continued life) for the dog. This enhances the importance you have in the dog's perception. Ultimately, hunger serves as a powerful motivator.

All dogs have natural inclinations from the many years, we selected their breeds for specific tasks. Working for their food is a natural, and easy way we can help satiate those instincts, we selected for, to do a job. At Pawsome Dogsports, we are all about having a fulfilled canine companion.

Because you are building a stronger bond and are fulfilling natural instincts in your dog you will start to see a stronger desire and enjoyment in your training.

How to use it?

In place or treats or non-essential food items, use what you’d give your dog for one mealtime as rewards during training. Depending on how many meals they have a day, you may have multiple training sessions. You can also combine all the food they need for one day and give it to them in one session. The Voila Ultimate Treat pouch would be big enough to accommodate this.

In our lunch break analogy, you don’t have to eat but once the break is over, food isn’t allowed for the remaining hours of school. The same applies for the dog during training. If they don’t want to eat when you are training, that’s ok but they will have to wait until the next training opportunity to eat.

If you have a dog that doesn’t want to eat during training, it is important to assess why that might be. Is the dog not hungry because it is overweight? Do they have a medical condition affecting them? Are they too uncomfortable in the current environment to eat? It is important to consider all circumstances when training dogs, because the health and safety should always be the top priority. It is important to note that it is not safe for some dogs (puppies and pregnant/lactating females) to miss meals and we urge you to get advice from professionals when dealing with these dogs.

Overall, existential feeding, using a dog’s meal as its reward in training, is a fantastic way to build a better bond, intrinsically fulfill, and boost your training results with your canine companion. Even if you decide existential feeding isn’t for you and your dog, we at PawsomeDogsports hope you get out there and have fun with your dog.

If you’re looking for extra information on this subject, please check out:

Full Quadrant Podcast: Existential Food


[1]   Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, Association for Pet Obesity Prevention website, accessed March 6, 2024, <,disorders%20identified%20in%20veterinary%20practice>.