Friday, September 2, 2011

Training Treats - A Biscuit Ain't Gonna Cut It

In dog training classes, I'm often asked what kind of treats I use.  I've listed a few below although the options are endless.  When training dogs (especially rambunctious adolescent dogs that would rather do anything but pay attention to its owners) it's important to use food/treats that are rewarding to the dog, and will motivate them to do what you ask of them.  I never use dry biscuits for training!  I try to pick smelly treats that are made with good ingredients.  Usually this ends up being real meat, or dog treats with meat or fish as the number one ingredient.  (For those of you with dogs on special diets, please scroll to the bottom for ideas on how you can enhance regular kibble.)

I also like to mix up the treats so the dogs never know what to expect.  All they know is that I'm the giver of yummy treats, and I will pay them for working for me!

Real Meat

If you have the time to cook and cut up real meat, such as liver or steak, that's the most economical way.  If you prefer something a bit easier, you can try pre-cooked meat such as the grilled chicken breast strips from Costco.  All you have to do is cut the strips into bite size pieces (1/2 inch or less) and voila, you have high-value dog treats.

For liver, it helps to bake it in the oven so it's a little drier and less messier to handle.

Once you cut the meat up into little pieces (1/4 to 1/3 inches) you can store them in the freezer in a Ziploc bag or tupperware,and then grab a handful before a dog walk or training session. The warm weather in Hawaii usually defrosts the treats by the time I use them. 

Freshpet Vital
Freshpet Vital is sold at pet stores like Petco, and is made of healthful yet delicious ingredients.  The treats come in small bite-size pellets so they're very easy to use for training.  You can cut the pellets into halves to get even more mileage. Dogs love this stuff!

Here's more info:

Available at Petco, Petsmart and most major pet stores.

Natural Balance Dog Food Rolls

This is a big roll of dog food that comes in beef, turkey and lamb flavor.  I usually cut these rolls into little treat size cubes and store them in the refrigerator in a Ziploc bag.  These rolls have the texture of Spam, so it will stay solid even if you cut it up. But they're moist and easy for the dogs to swallow. When it's time for a training session or a walk, you can grab a handful of the treat cubes from the fridge.  The new formula contains sugar as a preservative, so it's probably best not to feed too much of this brand to your dog.

Available at Feed Trough (Waialua), Crazy Canine (Aiea), Petco and most major pet stores.

Yummy Chummies

Yummy Chummies are available at Costco and come in a bulk value bag. This  treat is 95% wild Alaska salmon with Glucosamine and Chondroitin. The treats are easy to cut up into litle pieces, requires no refrigeration, and are a good source for natural omega 3 and 6 fatty acids!

Available (sometimes) at Costco

Lamb and Rice Jerky by Sunshine Mills

This comes in a clear container with a red lid and is available for a low price at Costco.  The jerky comes in a strip about 6 or 7 inches long, and is easy to tear into little pieces.  It's not a super-high-value treat for training purposes, but it can still be used for low-difficulty-level training.

Available at Costco

Wildside Salmon Training Treats for Dogs

These are bite-sized freeze-dried bits of salmon that dogs love.  These treats have a strong salmon smell so they are quite motivating for dogs.

Available at Crazy Canine (Aiea)

Real Meat Treat Jerky series (and other jerkies)

These soft jerky treats are made from real meat and come in various flavors including chicken & venison, lamb, fish & venison, beef and more.  The treats are really easy to tear up, so you can use little pieces for training to get the most bang out of your buck.

Available at Crazy Canine (Aiea)

Crazy Canine Chicken Jerky

Dogs love these chicken treats.  Made in Hawaii, these treats are made with 100% chicken breast meat. Sliced thin and dried for 10 hours for a delicious crunchy snack. No preservatives, salt, nor sugar, just chicken.  Because the chicken is dried, I tend to use this treat during training rather than dog walks.  During walks the dogs are running around and panting, so if they eat a dry treat like this, sometimes they swallow too fast and start coughing.

Available at Crazy Canine in Aiea

Pet Botanics Omega Salmon Treats

Dogs love Cardinal Laboratories’ unique 5-layer Pet Botanics Healthy Omega Treats, especially this salmon flavor.  It is stinky and easy to cut into smaller pieces.  They contain no wheat, soybean, glutens, grains, or artificial flavor. They offer Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and antioxidants that make your dog’s coat shine. Ingredients include salmon sweet potato, and cod.

Available online

Stewart's Beef Liver Treats (Freeze Dried)

These freeze dried liver treats come in something resembling a plastic yogurt container.  The liver has a strong smell, even if it's dried, and I have yet to meet a dog who doesn't love it.  The treats come in approximately 3/4 inch pieces, but you can easily cut them up with a knife to get more mileage out of the treats.

Available at Feed Trough (Waialua), Pets R Us (Mililani) and many other pet stores

Plato Salmon Strips and Plato Thinker Sticks
Over 90% salmon, these treats are very smelly and flavorful.  The strips are easy to tear into pieces, and are perfect for training and for nose work. Also sold in chicken and duck flavors.

Available at Calvin & Susie in Honolulu, Crazy Canine in Aiea, Pets Plus and other Hawaii pet stores

"Enhanced" Kibble

Place the dog's food ration in a Ziploc bag. Drizzle some chicken or beef soup stock over the kibble, but not so much as to make it soupy. Shake the bag up so the soup stock gets on all the kibble, then use the kibble as training treats. You can also change the taste up by cutting up a few pieces of hot dog or meat and then microwaving it. Put those pieces into the Ziploc bag with the kibble and shake it up. Then remove the hot dog.

1 comment:

  1. Keep in mind that the label lists ingredients based on weight, and meats or meat meals take the first spot because they contain a high water content. Choose a food with a meat or meat meal as the first ingredient. Dogs are omnivores, and only under extreme circumstances (such as very bad allergies) should they be fed a vegetarian diet.