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Saturday, May 3, 2014


Pet parents who want to train using positive reinforcement should be ready to reward their dogs with tasty treats.  Pet parents who want to use counter conditioning to help their dogs feel better about scary things (nail trims, other dogs, loud noises, etc..) should be ready to give a lot of tasty treats.

But we don't want to ruin our dogs' balanced diets nor make our dogs put on weight while we are working with them. Pet parents should consult with their vet then consider some of these options:

A lot of commercial treats are filled with unnecessary and/or unhealthy ingredients - like sugar, molasses, various chemicals and preservatives. And when considering the price per pound of pet treats, pet parents can usually save money by using homemade treats. See the video below for some ideas for limited ingredient commercial treats and homemade treats

If you don't feel like pre-cutting your treats, you can just put hunks of meat in your treat bag and tear off pieces. Or use ground meat. See video below

If you like to feed raw but don't want to handle raw meat treats nor carry around raw meat in a treat bag, consider fridge dried treats See the video below

The above treat choices probably don't add many calories but what about those pets who need a lot of treats or dogs who might be overweight or tiny dogs? We night need to figure out ways to save even more calories. One way to do that is to add water. Pet parents can puree meat and water. Then put the meat flavored water into some type of dispenser - like an empty perfume roll on bottle. A pastry dispenser might work if less water is used.

Some dogs are happy to eat their regular food as treats. So that's another way to save calories. Set aside a portion of a regular meal to use as treats. But let dogs have most of their meal in peace. Author Leslie McDevitt says allowing dogs to enjoy their meals is good for their digestion and their psyche.  Don't make your dog work for every little morsel.  (this includes trick and training and counter conditioning). Also do not hand feed an entire meal.

Your dog will tell you what he/she likes. Some dogs enjoy sirloin. Another dog might go crazy for string beans.  Discuss with your vet and experiment. Save the tastiest treats for the hardest times  - like counter conditioning to scary things or asking for attention when a squirrel is running by.

Note: even when using meat or vegetables, pet parents might need to slightly reduce the size of their dog's regular meals. Work with your vet on a safe way to do this.

What does your dog like to eat? Tell us about it in the comments section below
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  1. Where do you buy a food processor that can slice? I haven't seen one before

    1. Hi Snarky
      I have a confession to make. I broke my food processor. I think I pushed it a little bit to far. I think most food processor come with a slicer tool (I have a Hamilton Beach). But I don't know if that tool is made for raw meat. It worked fine with raw meat. But then I discovered that slicing can be more precise if the meat is slightly frozen. Then I kept using meat that was more frozen until finally the processor had enough and it broke :)

      Those slicing wheels are probably better suited for cucumbers and such :)