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A GUIDE TO DOG TREATS
History, Best Practices, Dog Treat Recipes
Considered as extensions of the family, passionate dog owners will go to great lengths to pamper their pooches. As such, dog treats have become big business in the industry. But more than just a Scooby snack, they serve the purpose of helping to train dogs and encourage acceptable behavior.
History of Dog Treats
It is thought that dog treats were discovered in the 1870s by American business man James Spratt. Inspired by seeing dogs eating biscuits in the street, he launched ‘Spratts Meat Fribrine Dog Cakes’ first in London, before taking his successful recipe back home to America.
Today dog treats are used in a number of ways, contributing to the $300 billion annual consumer spend on pet food and treats. Keep in mind that you also want to watch your pet’s weight, so it’s a good idea to connect with a local veterinarian if you’re curious about which treats are good for your dog.
How to Reward Dogs with Treats
Most dogs will guzzle anything they see, especially dog treats – this is largely down to their superior sense of smell – some up to 20 yards away.
While it’s only natural to want to please your dog and keep them happy, they aren’t always aware of their food intake or limitations. Therefore, the responsibility falls to the owner to keep their diet in check.
Treats are a great way to reward a well-behaved dog and can be used to reinforce positive behavior.
Appealing to their love of food, a good way to instigate and reinforce good behavior is by using treats. This might be during the early stages of dog training, or even later rewarding your dog for being a good boy.
After completing a task or following a command, you can reward your dog for their efforts with a treat. This is also part of the education, requiring them to “sit still” before offering it to them.
The best way to do this is in a calm manner allowing them to sniff the treat first. Their heightened smell is one of their greatest senses, and important to engage with first. You may hold it and ask him to wait, this is important to keep behaviors in check. If your dog attempts to jump up or misbehave, be sure to show your disapproval through body language and do not give it to them. Repeat the sequence, until your dog acts accordingly. While this requires patience, the benefits of having a well-behaved dog will be valuable for many years to come.
Treats are certainly a motivational tool to our canine friends and should never be used as ‘bribes’. They should only be offered after a positive behavior, and not as a prelude to this.
The Best Time for Dog Treats
Outside of training regimes, the best time to give treats is in between meals – never afterwards when they are full.
Dogs are smart animals, and it won’t take them too long to figure out that good behavior leads to yummy snacks.
How to Choose Dog Treats
Knowing which treat your dog loves best comes down to trial and error. You will soon learn to know which foods they prefer. These can be homemade or purchased, although you may find that commercial snacks are more popular, since they’re made to be tasty.
You may decide on a ‘mix’ of different dog treats, some they enjoy more than others. Usually leaving their favorite to last is a tactic employed in training, especially when they have done something exceptional.
Do also consult with your veterinarian, who can assist with your dog’s nutritional needs. Breed, age and weight are all contributing factors.
Finally, when choosing a dog treat take a look at the ingredients list. As a general rule, avoid treats where the ingredients aren’t familiar. Much like our food, look for fresh foods with minimal processing.
The 10% Rule
Since dogs can vary in size and requirements, experts including the American Kennel Club advise that dog treats should make up no more than 10% of their calories.
Dog Treat Recipes
The best way to know what’s going into your dog’s diet, is by controlling it. This is also more cost-effective than buying commercial treats.
Thankfully, lots of inspiring bloggers and chefs share their baking secrets. Here are five of our favorites:
- Peanut Butter and Bacon Glazed Bones
Both aesthetically pleasing and appetizing, these easy-to-make dog treats include all their favorite ingredients. Featuring pumpkin and bacon glazed with peanut butter, it’s a holiday winner!
Recipe at Pinch of Yum >>>
- Watermelon Pupsicles
A delicious and nutritious pick-me-up, check out this quick recipe, but don’t forget to remove the seeds first.
Recipe at Grr Feisty >>>
- Organic Flaxseed Treats
Inspired by the original dog treat recipe from Spratt’s, this vintage recipe has been dug up and revived for a new era. You can use organic ingredients to ensure your dog is getting the best nutrition possible.
Recipe at In the vintage kitchen >>>
- Peanut Butter Banana Bakes
Combining two of their favorite foods, this homemade treat uses just five ingredients, and is low in sugar and salt.
Recipe at The cozy cook >>>
- Breath-freshening Treats
Here’s a win-win treat for us all, bone-shaped biscuits that freshens their breath at the same time. Loaded with mint and parsley, it’s also one of the more advanced recipes to follow.
Recipe at Health Starts in the Kitchen >>>