We want to take the best care of our pets from the places they rest and play to the collars they wear, but one thing we often forget is to take real notice at what they eat.
Treats are a fantastic thing for our favourite four legged friends. They would do anything to get them, and we use their love of food as a means of training and socialisation.
Positive reinforcement is everything, and there aren’t many things more positive than a lovely, scrumptious, delicious snack after a job well done. It’s like getting paid for us humans, and just like people, our pets work even harder when justly rewarded for a job well done.
I take great pride in knowing exactly what my beloved Jack Russell terrier Kala likes and needs from her dishes every day. Treats are just as important part of her diet as all other meals and, believe me, she notices it too.
With the right diet, we can train, have fun and have an excellent time all day long. Here is a short guide to the world of all great doggy treats.
3S’s – small, smelly, soft
Treats for your pet should be small and easily digestible. They aren’t meant to be full meals – just a fast and delicious snack for a job well done. Some dogs, like Jack Russell’s, are prone to overeating and you must be careful about their daily calorie intake.
Healthy, delicious and low-calorie snacks are perfect for the job. Smaller and softer treats will go down in one gulp, won’t break their concentration during training sessions and leave them always wanting for more. Another great thing is that more of them fit into your pocket or a treat pouch and they don’t break off and turn into crumbs so quickly, so there is less mess to worry about.
Healthy, healthy, healthy
You wouldn’t eat junk so take extra care that your beloved doesn’t either. It’s easy – just read the declaration found on the packaging. Don’t buy anything that’s made from ingredients you don’t recognize.
That’s extra important if your dog has known food allergies – avoid treats that could potentially make them sick. You should avoid treats containing grains because they could be undigestible for your dog which could lead to some serious gastro-intestinal problems.
Look at the nutritional information. Choose low calorie treats so that your pet doesn’t start gaining extra weight because of all the treats he will be getting during the day. We want to reward him, but he should still maintain a healthy appetite for that yummy dinner.
If it says on the packaging that you shouldn’t give more than a few per day to your pet, it’s, a good sign that there is something wrong with them and it would be best to avoid them altogether. Remember you must choose treats that your dog can ingest safely many times during your daily training routine.
For your consideration
Zuke’s Mini Naturals are an excellent treat for soft, healthy moist snack. Low calorie, made from real meat and packed with antioxidants they even come in a practical Variety pack with six different flavors.
If your pet prefers pork, Pet Botanics Training Rewards Mini Treats for Dogs will sate their desire with low calorie, nutritional and healthy snacks made form real pork liver.
Small and older dogs will have a blast with the low fat, low calorie, soft textured Cloud Star Chewy Tricky Trainers.
You must also consider extra healthy treats for your furry friends packed with DHA to help promote cognitive development and various vitamins to boost their immune systems like Wilderness Blue Buffalo Dog Treats and Blue Buffalo Life Protection Dog Treats.
There’s nothing like home-made
There are many simple recipes for great homemade treats like dehydrated liver, dehydrated chicken strips, dehydrated sweet potato, banana – peanut butter treats, etc. They are usually the most treasured treats of them all.
Not only do you prepare them catering specifically to your dog’s needs but they are made with love and affection that only you can show to your pet. Trust me, they’ll know it, and they’ll show it.
The only downside is that they perish much faster than their store bought counterparts and they mostly have to be kept in a refrigerator to prevent them from spoiling. If you decide to cook them make sure that you don’t overdo it in means of quantity – they’ll spoil, and you’ll have to throw them out to your and the dog’s disappointment.
In any case, check them regularly and make sure that they are still fresh and edible – we don’t want to make our beloved sick by accident.
Not all treats are created equal
We like some food more than other. The same goes for dogs. They are individuals, like us, and what works for one dog might not work for another. There is just something about the smell of that jerky or scrumptiousness of that stake that hits all the buttons for your beloved companion.
Your job is to find out exactly what is their favourite treat and use it as a special reward during training. Get a few different kinds and brands of treats, they may be store bought or home made, and present them to your dog at the same time (hold one in one hand and one in the other, or put them in several bowls next to each other).
The one that your dog approaches first (often instantly) is your big winner – the most prized treat for your fellow companion. You should grade treats in several groups (at least three) and use them according to the level of success during training. Reserve favourite treats for exceptional performances only and gives them other treats according to their success.
You will usually start to train your dog at home – in a controlled and safe environment – low-level treats are good enough at this stage. When you take your training to the bustling jungle of smells, sounds and movements that are the great outdoors it’s time to take out the big guns – their most treasured treats.
With so many things going on around him your four-legged companion is going to have a hard time treating you with the same respect and concentration that you are used to in the confines of your home. Be it a park, playground or the side of the road they will be bombarded with dozens of different sensual experiences just waiting to be explored every second.
A big payout, a first-grade treat, will go a long way in regaining their concentration and keeping them engaged in your training.
Remember the better the reward, the sooner will they associate their actions with good things and will eventually enjoy doing them even without the treats. Positive reinforcement is essential.
Through this short guide, you discovered some secrets for easier training and tips for a wholly improved well being of your favourite companion in the whole wide world. Just remember some ground rules. The treats have to be soft, smelly, small and above all else healthy for your dog.
Take your time to learn and discover their likes and dislikes and collect as much information about doggy treats as you can before buying them.
Please share with us your thoughts on best doggy treats in the comments below.
I was just wondering if there is a specific dry kibble that agrees with most Jack Russell Terriers ?
I am having problems with my 1 1/2 year old Jack. She is very picky and has a sensitive stomach.
Hi, I can’t say there is a specific dry kibble that agrees with most JRTs as each of them is different – some are picky, some are sensitive and some of them can and will eat anything. From my experience and research (for a JRT that will eat almost all kibble, but is stomach sensitive and allergy prone) the best kibble is high quality grain-free kibble. Now I buy exclusively Taste of the Wild, and I rotate between their types, and I’m really satisfied with it. Also, I don’t feed her only kibble, she eats a real home made food (meat and some veggies) at least once a day. I think it’s the best to buy small batches of high quality food or get some samples and try each of them. There is no the one food that all of them like. Cheers, Ana
Should I cut the hair between my dogs toes ?
Hi Karen, if your dog has lots of hair between paw pads, you should trim it regularly. It will prevent hair mats and debris staying inside paws. I suppose you have rough-coated or long-haired dog which are more prone to having excessive fur between toes and pads. For example, I have broken-coated jrt with longer hair only on her spine and I never trim her paw hair, there is just no need for it. Cheers, Ana