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treats

Myth Busting: Dogs That Aren’t Food Motivated

Strata Gets a Treat We once thought Strata was “not treat motivated” when in reality, he needed to lose a bit of weight and be offered tastier treats!

When dog owners find out that clicker training requires using a lot of dog treats, some express concern. They start to tell me that their dogs are not food motivated. I have good news: all dogs are food motivated!

Dogs have to eat. If your dog wasn’t motivated by food in some capacity, she would be dead. This seems obvious, but many people don’t see the connection between “food” and “treats”!

It is certainly true that some dogs are more food motivated than others. But your dog doesn’t need to be a perpetually hungry chow-hound for you to use treats in training. Here are my considerations when it seems that a dog doesn’t enjoy treats.

Does the dog need to lose weight?

Approximately 40% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. (Source.) It is common for dogs that are overweight to refuse treats because their caloric needs have already been met. I tell owners to talk with their veterinarians about reducing their dog’s weight. You can start by reducing your dog’s meals by 15-20% and removing fatty snacks like pig ears from her diet.

Does the dog like the treats that you offer her?

Often the owner is offering something that is mediocre from the dog’s perspective, like hard biscuits or kibble. In a previous blog post, I covered the subject of what makes a great dog treat. The best treats for training are small, soft, and very tasty. This is in stark contrast to a big, hard, […]

By |2017-08-07T20:01:58+00:00August 5, 2017|Myth Busting|9 Comments

How to Chop Dog Treats in 5 Minutes or Less

In our Day School program, we go through a lot of dog treats! During our busiest weeks, it is not uncommon for us to use 10 pounds or more. We’re always looking for the fastest and most cost-effective ways to prepare and store this much food in our training studio.

When it comes to food rolls, we have this down to a science. We recommend and sell Happy Howie’s treat rolls. Happy Howie’s rolls are way less crumbly than other rolls on the market, which is why they are our favorite. These are 1- or 2-pound chubs of semi-soft dog treats which you can chop up or tear chunks off to give to your dog. Because you take care of the cutting yourself, these treats are very inexpensive per-pound.

Chop Treats in 5 Minutes or Less

Here’s how we process the 2-pound Happy Howie’s treat rolls at the Academy in just 5 minutes or less.

1. Unwrap the roll. While a pair of scissors works just fine to snip the plastic open, we use a pair of large dog nail clippers.

2. Slice the roll into discs. We usually aim for 1/4″ thickness – these are a bit thick.

2_sliced

3. Place one disc at a time on to the cutting portion of your Vidalia Onion Chopper.

“Wait, what?”

[…]

Product Review: Solid Gold Tiny Tots Lamb Jerky Dog Treats

Solid Gold Tiny Tots Lamb Jerky Dog TreatsFrom time to time, we get an opportunity to test drive a new dog product. This time around, we were sent a bag of Solid Gold Tiny Tots, which are described by the manufacturer as a “lamb jerky” dog treat.

The first thing I noticed after opening the bag of Tiny Tots (which contains 10oz of treats – not bad!) was the smell. These treats have a very particular scent. I don’t know how to describe it, but it does not remind me of lamb at all.

These treats are soft and extremely easy to break up with your fingers. Each bone breaks up into 5-7 little pieces. Since I train so many little dogs, this is much appreciated! The treats are a little crumbly, but it’s not excessive.

So how did they like them?

All of the dogs I offered Tiny Tots to loved them, but me? Not so much. This scent, unfortunately, lingers on your hands and in your pockets or treat pouch. After all these years training dogs, it doesn’t take much to make me self-conscious, but I was concerned that my clients would be bothered by the leftover odor.

All five of my personal dogs can and will eat these treats, which is sort of a miracle. I have one dog who doesn’t do well with poultry, and once dog who is quite allergic to beef, and another who is picky as all get-out. But all of them enjoyed these treats! For that reason, I’ll probably keep a bag in the house… but not at the Academy where my clients might smell them. ;)

The fine print

Solid Gold’s website states that all of their treats are […]

By |2016-03-23T19:24:11+00:00March 23, 2016|Product Reviews|Comments Off on Product Review: Solid Gold Tiny Tots Lamb Jerky Dog Treats

How to Teach Your Dog Self-Control Around Food: VIDEO

In one of my previous blog posts about self-control versus imposed control for dogs, I explained that I do not teach “leave it” to my dogs. Instead, I train my dogs to wait for permission to take food, objects, or anything else they want.

Here is a quick video demonstration of how I train dogs to have self-control around food.

Keys to Training

Siberian Husky Self-Control Around Food One of our students demonstrating self-control around food. Great job, Willow! (Photo: Smiling Wolf Photography)

Note that I do not say “leave it,” “no,” or otherwise nag Strata to not take the food. Actions speak louder than words. If he tries to steal the treat, I just close my hand and make it inaccessible to him. If he waits politely, I keep my hand open and ultimately reward him using my other hand.

Rewarding with the “free” hand speeds up the learning process for the dog. If you reward with the hand that has all of the treats in it – the very thing you’re training him not to touch! – it will confuse your dog.

Start this training with treats that are of a low value to your dog, like Cheerios, bits of carrot, or his usual dog kibble. Only keep 3-6 treats in your hand at a time. It’s especially important to not start this training with food that is oily or juicy, like hot dogs or cheese, because your dog will be able to lick that off of your skin and therefore get rewarded for “mugging” your treat hand.

It is imperative that you play this game in a […]

By |2020-05-27T14:14:45+00:00December 28, 2015|Training, Tutorials and How-To Guides|Comments Off on How to Teach Your Dog Self-Control Around Food: VIDEO

What Makes a Great Training Treat?

Dog Eating Treat Be sure to pick a training treat that your dog enjoys!

At last, here is my written answer to the number one question I receive from owners learning to use clicker training with their dogs… what makes a great training treat? Here are the things I tell my clients to consider when choosing treats to use while training their dogs.

Size

You will be using a lot of treats when training your dog. In order to avoid weight gain, cut your treats into the tiniest pieces possible. My rule of thumb is that treats should be no larger than the size of a pea; for itty-bitty dogs, the treats should be half that size. I can tell you that there is no commercial dog training treat on the market that I have found that is small enough for training. I buy the usual “training treats” like Zuke’s and soft Tricky Trainers from Cloud Star and break them in half. Any soft treat can be cut into smaller pieces.

Texture

As a general rule, I do not use crunchy treats when training my dogs, and I suggest that my students avoid them too. Crunchy treats make a mess and encourage your dog to sniff the floor and hunt for crumbs, taking their attention from you. Dog biscuits are okay as an occasional snack, but leave them out of your organized training sessions. Soft treats are much easier and faster for dogs to chew.

Every once in a blue moon, I do encounter a dog that strongly prefers crunchy treats to soft ones! For those dogs, biscuits made for “small breed” dogs and freeze-dried treats tend to work quite […]

By |2015-12-15T21:20:07+00:00December 21, 2015|Helpful Hints, Training, Uncategorized|