In Part One, we talked about the importance of the quality and quantity of treats. We also talked about size, texture and variety. Variety is very important. Your dog will stay focused as long as you keep the variety interesting. Sometimes even dogs get totally bored with their food and stop eating. That’s a foreign idea in this house. Being in the business, I’m always trying new and exciting treats for training. That’s my dogs favorite part of my job.
The 25% to 33% Plan
If I have a pocketful of treats, it’s likely that there are three or four different kinds of treats with different values. Value refers to how yummy a particular treat tastes. It’s important to vary the food and treats your dogs eat so they don’t get too much of one thing. Allergies can develop in both animals and humans if too much of one particular food is fed too often. If you’re working on a particular special new behavior use high value treats. The same thing is true when you are in a high distraction area or for counter conditioning. When you switch behaviors you can use different treats. When it’s the everyday, all around treat combination, I like the 25% to 33% plan. When working with a training savvy dog, or doing maintenance, vary the treats. Keep the dog guessing and every once in a while throw in the best one. If you keep them varied and interesting, your dog will respond with even more attention and his work ethic will stay strong and happy.
A high value treat is that very very special treat that your dog goes crazy over. In my house the peaking order is this, from highest to lowest:
- Raw beef, chicken, turkey,
- Cooked beef, chicken, turkey, fish
- Sandwich meat, roast beef, chicken, canned chicken, canned sausages
- Cheese sticks, Jerkeys, Mini Zukes (the kona’s touch staple), Dried Liver, Food roll ups cut up (Natural Balance)
- Fruits and vegetables, They are not that into lettuce.
- For beginning training with behaviors that are new. REWARD HIGH VALUE
- For high distraction areas REWARD HIGH VALUE
- For recall work or teaching your dog life saving behaviors REWARD HIGH VALUE
And Never Forget
- Use treats with few ingredients and have a protein be the first.
- Avoid artificial food coloring, artificial preservatives and additives. They are not necessary in your dog’s treat plan or better yet, they are not necessary in your dog. Wheat, corn, and soy as major components are wasted calories.
- When feeding animal products educate yourself as to which ones are more important to either avoid or make sure you get free raised, antibiotic free and hormone free. To save money, you can order treats online.
The Hot Dog Story
I use hot dogs with no nitrates, hormones, or antibiotics added. Since they are already fully cooked, you can give them cold. They’re just very difficult and messy and can’t be put in your pocket. If you want to have them with you in your pocket and smelling extra yummy, cook them. The extra yummy smell can be an added incentive for high quality work.
Hot dogs vary by brand and type (beef, chicken, turkey and even veggie). Beef hot dogs often take a little longer than chicken hot dogs to cook. It depends on the brand and microwave power (you can also use a food dehydrator) and the type of hot dog. Experiment with your particular situation. The crunchier they are, the quicker the dog can swallow and be ready for more training. If they are chewy and rubbery, put them in for another minute or more.
To make hot dog treats:
Quarter two hot dogs length wise. Slice it horizontally 15-20 times in small pebble size pieces.
Place pieces on a paper towel and microwave for 4-7 minutes, until dry and crunchy. Start with 4 minutes and if they are still moist, put them in for a minute at a time, until dry and crunchy. If you don’t have a turnaround in the microwave, turn the paper towel every minute.
For more information about feeding a healthy diet…What You Need to Know About Your Pet’s Food