Tips for healthy, homemade dog treats
01 Feb, 2018
You are careful about selecting quality ingredients and preparing healthy meals for your dog but what about treats?
Regardless of whether you are training for a dog sport or good house manners, using food rewards is important for training results and relationship building. While the benefits of food rewards are well documented, you don’t want the training benefits to upset the healthy feeding regime you have in place.
Here are some tips for quick and healthy, homemade dog treats that will align with the rest of your dog’s diet.
1. Fruit and vegetables
My dogs will quite happily train in familiar but moderate distraction environments with chunks of raw carrot. At home, they will also work for apple, banana, strawberries and melon. Experiment with the types of fruit and vegetables your dog likes. Simply cut the fruit or vegetable into treat sized pieces and keep a container in the fridge ready to reward your dog.
While raw fruit and vegetables are not always viable in your treat bag or pocket when you are out and about, you could consider dried fruit. Think about dried banana, paw paw or apple. If you have a dehydrator experiment with drying different types of fruit and vegetables to find what your dog likes.
For most dogs, meat based treats are the highest value treats.
For safety, raw meat is not viable to store in a treat pouch for any length of time, but you could use it when training at home. Consider using raw meaty bones or offal from the dog’s normal meals. Cut them into small treat sizes and use at home. I will often use chicken necks or heart from the dog’s meals as treats at home. Please be very careful with food safety, especially in the heat, if using raw meat as treats.
Cooked meat also makes excellent nutritious treats. Consider grilling or poaching chicken pieces and then cutting the meat into treat size pieces. I bake heart, chicken giblets, and lambs fry for dog treats. I pack the treats into portions that will last for one – two days and freeze them. Each day, I take a pack of treats from the freezer and put them in the fridge. I then have homemade treats in the fridge ready to use.
Also consider using meat leftovers from your own meals as dog treats. Leftover steak or roast meat is perfect for dog treats. Simply remove any gravy or sauce and cut them into small pieces and freeze.
You could also experiment with baking treats using canned fish like tuna, mackeral, and salmon. I use a simple “fudge” recipe that combines tinned fish, flour and eggs. This recipe makes a soft treat that doesn’t crumble so is ideal for carrying in your pocket or treat bag. You can cut it into any size and it freezes well.
Remember when using food rewards, to count the dog’s treats as part of their daily energy intake and adjust the size of their meals accordingly.
Until next time, enjoy your dogs
PS: Leave a note to share your favourite treat recipe.