Bitsy is usually pretty well behaved and has been reasonably easy to manage, but rewarding her with treats for good behavior has been a fun and effective way to train. I’ve put together a list of things to look for when trying to select the perfect treat for your dog and some selections that Bitsy can’t get enough of!
What To Look For in a Treat
Treats should be flavorful. These are a reward for good behavior after all!
Easy to Break
Treats should be easy to break or small (pea sized) so that they don’t pose a choking hazard and also because if you’re trying to watch your pup’s weight, it’s important to keep calories under control.
Easy to Carry
Since you may want to treat your dog when you are not at home, it’s best to find treats that are easy to carry. Avoid anything greasy or crumbly.
If your dog has a sensitive stomach it is especially important to stick with simple ingredients that are easy to digest. Low-fat meats, like chicken, usually work well. Even if your dog has a particularly strong constitution, you want to stick with simple ingredients because it is a healthier lifestyle choice.
Use a Variety of Treats
Variety is the spice of life and if you want to keep your dog from getting bored, you need to mix things up a little. It’s also helpful to have low-value treats (like kibble) so that you can reward decent responses with a lower calorie treat. For great responses, reward your dog with a high-value treat, like fresh meat or freeze dried meat.
Types of Treats
When buying mass-manufactured treats, look for items that are made from high quality ingredients and in smaller batches. Healthy ingredients include meat, cheese, eggs, and nuts. Avoid corn and wheat, as well as ingredients that you can’t pronounce. Don’t just trust an “organic” treat – read the label. Manufacturers can be sneaky…
You can sometimes save money on treats by making them at home. It’s also a great way to ensure that you know exactly what your dog is consuming. www.Dogaware.com has some great recipes, including turkey treats and tuna brownies. These are on my list for Bitsy as the weather gets colder. It’ll give me something to do indoors.
Bonus: Ice cubes can be a special treat too if you play your cards right… The only problem I have now is whenever I go into the freezer, Bitsy sits attentively waiting for her treat. If I don’t give her a cube, she looks so depressed. Who is training whom?
Regular Dog Food
Depending on how savvy your dog is, you can treat your dog with their regular food if it’s not around meal time. This approach works better for puppies. If you are using wet or canned food, you can use a food tube or a baby food jar. If your dog likes his dry food enough to do tricks for, then his kibble can work quite well. One way you can make dry food more exciting is to put it in a paper bag with some pieces of bacon for a few hours and let it soak up some of the odor. Nothing is better than bacon, am I right?
While I’m cautious to not let others feed Bitsy food from the table, people food can also work great as a treat and your dog will probably love it. You can feed your dog chopped fresh meat or cheese, chopped veggies, or maybe some gravy or liquid yogurt. Avoid foods such as avocado, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, and chocolate- these can cause, at best health problems, at worst, death… Don’t confuse the do’s and don’ts of human food.
Over the last few years I’ve bought and made a variety of treats for Bitsy, but we have settled on some favorites that she loves.
There are a variety of Fruitables treats, both crunchy and soft. There are made from wholesome, healthy ingredients, such as yogurt, beef, or chicken. They also use sunflower oil and pumpkin. Bitsy particularly loves the apple bacon chewy treats. You can check out the Fruitables website to find a retailer near you that carries them: www.fruitablespetfood.com
Rocco and Roxie Supply Co. Jerky Sticks
Bitsy can’t get enough of these and I can’t blame her! (Not that I’ve actually tried them myself, but I’ve been tempted, they smell fantastic!) They are made almost entirely of pure beef and smoked for 15 hours in small batches. I think more care is put into making this treat than into most of the food items I consume. You can check out their website at www.roccoandroxie.com
Plato Original Duck Dog Treats
Bitsy doesn’t have any allergies that I know of yet, but some dogs can be allergic to different types of meats, so duck can be a great alternative. These treats are made in the U.S. and you can get a pound for under $9, which when you consider the cost of duck at a restaurant, is a good deal. All ingredients are all natural and fortified with vitamins and antioxidants that will keep your dog happy and healthy. Check them out at www.platopettreats.com
This brand is fantastic. Their treats are handmade from scratch with human grade ingredients. They only have a few ingredients per flavor and are great if your dog has a sensitive stomach. I went through a time when Bitsy couldn’t keep anything down and discovered that Bitsy particularly loves the Breakfast Biscuit! You can purchase them at www.nesbitsdogtreats.com