As a pet parent, you want the best for your pup, including the treats you give them. Treats are a great way to reward good behavior, show affection, and provide a little extra love and nutrition. But with so many options available, it can be difficult to choose the best treats for your dog. Let's take a look at what you need to consider when choosing the right treats for your pup.
The first and most important thing to consider when choosing a treat is the ingredients. Look for treats made with whole ingredients, such as meat, fruit, and vegetables, and avoid those with artificial preservatives, flavors, and colors. Treats made with high-quality protein sources are a good choice, as they provide essential nutrients and help to support your dog's overall health
Allergies and Sensitivities
If your dog has any food allergies or sensitivities, it's important to choose treats that are free of the ingredients they are allergic to. For example, if your dog is allergic to grains, choose treats made with rice or potatoes instead of wheat. If you're unsure what ingredients your dog is sensitive to, talk to your veterinarian for guidance.
Palatability and Size
Dogs have different preferences, just like people do, and finding a treat that your dog enjoys is important for training. A treat that your dog loves and looks forward to eating will be much more effective as a reward. When it comes to puppies make sure to get a treat that is easily consumed. If your puppy takes a long time to consume the reward they will often get distracted while they are chewing and check out of your training session. Remember treats should account for no more than 10% of a dog's caloric intake, so ensure that the treats you are giving your dog are appropriately sized.
If your dog has special needs, such as being overweight or having dental issues, there are treats specifically designed to meet those needs. Treats that are low in fat and calories, or those that help to clean your dog's teeth, can help to keep your dog healthy and happy
The right treats can play an important role in your dog's overall health and well-being. Consider your dog's allergies, sensitivities, and nutritional needs when making your choice, and choose treats that are made with high-quality ingredients and free of artificial preservatives, flavors, and colors. With the right treats, you can reward your dog for good behavior, provide them with the nutrients they need, strengthen your bond and show them your love!
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Links to LierChonPoo Suggested Treats:
Freeze dried chicken liver
Freeze fried duck and mango
Freeze dried meat treats
WILL WORK FOR FOOD
If you are struggling with crate training your puppy, with puppy boredom or with an overactive puppy or dog, this blog post is for you! All dogs and puppies are happier, healthier and easier to train when they are mentally stimulated. One easy way to challenge your puppy is to have them work for their food. Every time we set down a bowl of food, we are missing a great opportunity to entertain and stimulate our puppy. These are also great for fast eaters, dogs that suffer from separation anxiety (offer when leaving) and for in crate entertainment. Oh, and in case you have lacked any "intimate time" since purchasing your puppy, these are also great for escaping to your room in peace for long enough . . .
Not sure how to make your puppy work for their food? Here are some examples:
LEVEL ONE - SNUFFLE MATS AND SLOW FEEDERS
Many breeders use snuffle mats with puppies as a part of the weaning and play process. Start by hiding a few high value treats in this mat and work up to feeding an entire meal. Placing a high quality kibble in the mat will slow your dogs eating, entertain them in a crate or pen and allow your dog or puppy to learn to work to find their food. Most LierChonPoo puppies and dogs will have been exposed to one of these options:
Small Snuffle Mat - This mat is inexpensive and travels easily. It's suitable for both puppies and adults.
Medium Snuffle & Play Mat - We love this medium mat with multiple places to hide treats and food for entire litters, households with more than one small dog or larger breeds. We also love that it's easy to wash and we recommend doing so weekly.
Slow feeders are similar but are simply a mechanism to slow a fast eater and are not as stimulating as a snuffle mat. You can increase the entertainment value of a slow feeder by mixing your kibble with a quality wet food which takes significantly longer to eat when spread on the walls of the feeder.
LEVEL TWO - SNOOPS
Snoops are advertised as being an interactive treat dispenser but we regularly use them as a bowl to feed and entertain puppies by placing a mixture of kibble and other food inside and using it as a bowl. We start these before feeding in Kongs because they are easier for the puppy to manipulate. To make it tougher, you can purchase the smiley face insert; however, we've found it easier to simply put a mixture of food and larger components in the Snoop to make it more challenging. For example, we will introduce these with a small amount of kibble mixed with a few high value treats. Once the dog has acclimated we will replace the treats with some larger pieces of cooked chicken or jerky that make getting to the food more difficult. Plugging the whole in the bottom with a treat or kibble or adding something like peanut butter (never with artificial sweetener) or plain yogurt can also increase the challenge. Snoops can be placed in the dishwasher (top rack) and we love that they are coated with a mint oil to help keep breath fresh. Our young dogs will work on these for 20-30 minutes which is great entertainment while we clean their space, sneak out the door for errands, etc.
LEVEL THREE - KONGS
The Kong is perhaps the most popular "work for food" toy on the market. For puppies, you want to begin with the small binkie Kong and get the multi-pack as you will need multiple kongs in order to keep them cleaned and stuffed. As your puppy progresses and grows (or to feed entire meals), move up to the medium. We have done an entire blog post HERE on how to stuff a kong from simple to more complex. What we will repeat here is that the Kong is a great way to make a puppy work for food and a great way to reward and entertain a puppy in the crate.
LEVEL FOUR - PUZZLES & INTERACTIVE TOYS
It is rare that we use a puzzle or toy to feed an entire meal but it can be done. If you are feeding a high calorie dense kibble such as PawTree, you can actually fit an entire meal in one of these toys.
Bob-A-Lot Interactive Dog Toy and Tug-A-Jug are very popular with our puppies but we don't use them as often as they can be difficult to clean and are really only suitable for kibble or treats (no option of mixing in wet or raw ingredients). They can also be a little loud depending on how the dog learns to dispense the treats. Again, if using these frequently, please make sure you are only using high quality single ingredient treats and are factoring in these calories so your puppy or dog doesn't end up overweight.
Puzzle Toys are also fun but with a few warnings. You MUST supervise both dogs and puppies with these type toys as most of them have pieces that can be chewed and even swallowed if care is not taken. They can also be a hassle to clean.
Lick Mats - These popular lick mats are also a hit with our puppies and dogs. We generally pull these out only for special occasions where we want to both reward and entertain the dogs for a while (think furniture being delivered, neighbor stopping by, etc.). In order to successfully use these mats you must find a combination to spread on the mat that is both healthy and irresistible to your pooch. Several of the suggestions we've discussed in Kong stuffing can also work here. For our dogs, we take it up a notch and keep these in the freezer already prepared with one of the following: natural peanut butter mixed with plain greek yogurt, puree pumpkin mixed with peanut butter or yogurt, Ollie dog food spread and re-frozen or Ollie mixed with yogurt.
We hope this post has been helpful and that you'll let us know what works and what doesn't, Please remember that any toy or bowl which doesn't entertain your pet can be donated to your local shelter for a dog in need so it's never a waste to experiment.
MASTERCLASS DOG TRAINING
We love dogs. We also love men who love dogs. So, imagine how we feel about Brandon McMillan - the best looking dog trainer ever! It's safe to say we're in love. If you haven't seen his show, Lucky Dog, it's currently available on CBS All Access and is a great binge watch for anyone who loves dogs (or men). It's a feel good show where Brandon rescues troubled dogs from local shelters and trains them to become perfect companions for their new families.
As much as we love the show, we found ourselves wondering how he does it - getting difficult dogs to sit and stay in a couple of days. So, we were thrilled two years ago when he finally published his book, Lucky Dog Lessons: Train Your Dogs in 7 Days. We immediately purchased several copies and honed our training skills. Since then, we've recommended this book to many puppy families looking to work on basic commands. While we love the book, we still felt something was missing - it's sometimes hard to convey the motion of hand signals or commands by written word (okay, maybe it was because you don't see Brandon himself in the book and again, he's really easy on the eyes).
Enter the recent MasterClass announcement and our excitement to learn that Brandon now has his own dog training class! If you aren't familiar with MasterClass already, it's a great platform where you can take classes on various topics - we've learned tennis from Serena Williams and cooking from Gordon Ramsey. These classes were both great, but the ability to watch Brandon McMillan train his dogs - LIVE - has been a blast. In fifteen video lessons (totaling about 3 hours) Brandon shares his simple and effective training system to help you develop trust and control with your dog. He covers sit, stay and down - as well as problem areas like barking and digging.
MasterClass is billed at $15 a month and offers a 30 day money back guarantee. We simply can't recommend this enough for all those new puppy owners wondering how to create the perfect companion. If you decide to try it we would love to hear what you think!
OCCUPY YOUR PUPPY: AN AMAZON LIST
Occupying your puppy is a key element to training success. It makes crate training easier, it helps to reduce destructive behaviors like chewing shoes and furniture, it reduces teething pain and it allows for distraction when nipping or barking. In order to effectively train a puppy, it's best to have a full arsenal of tools on hand and to rotate them to prevent boredom. While this may seem like a long list, it will take trial and error to really figure out what will work for your puppy. And remember, any items your puppy doesn't use or enjoy can be dropped off at your local animal shelter for less fortunate dogs who would LOVE something new! Below is our list of items we have on hand and what we use them for:
CRATE TRAINING - One key to crate training is to make the crate or pen somewhere your puppy wants to go, Not only should it be a safe place, but it should also have some stimulation to reduce boredom, barking and whining. One easy way to make that happen is to feed your puppy in the crate and to also provide stimulating rewards. For crate training, look for items that last a while and don't require supervision. Items that could cause choking should be avoided - and never use rawhide. Here are our top picks (click on each to go directly to Amazon):
GENERAL CHEWING - Dogs chew for multiple reasons including boredom and teething. Getting to the bottom of why your dog is chewing might help you choose the correct toy or product. Also, if your dog is simply bored, the best solution is always increasing exercise and mental stimulation through training. Below are some of our favorite solutions for teething and mental stimulation:
TRAINING TREATS - Training your puppy is great because it's not only mental stimulation that reduces bad behaviors but it also helps the puppy bond with you. The key to training is high value treats that the dog really wants to earn. That being said you also want to make sure it's okay for their tummies. A lot of dog treats are loaded with bad ingredients and things that can be harmful for your puppy. Try a few of these treats to find one that your puppy really enjoys and when shopping always look for single ingredients, natural ingredients and treats that can be broken in to small pieces for training sessions. Here are a few of our favorites but don't be afraid to also try home cooked treats or pieces of deli meat, ground beef, etc.
While this blog has focused on puppies, we use every item here for our grown dogs, we simply size up on some of the Kong type toys and don't break the treats in half! Best wishes in occupying your pup . . .
Another common question we hear is, "Help, I'm picking up my new puppy tomorrow. What do I need?" Here are our top picks, all of which can be accessed on Amazon.com by clicking on the item. Please see the end of this post on affiliate links and using Amazon Smile to donate to our SPCA!
A FEW EXTRAS:
As we've mentioned, we are huge supporters of our local SPCA. If you have benefited from this list, please consider using the Amazon Smile program and adding "Dorchester Paws" to your list of organizations to receive donations from your shopping. Please also note that we may receive credit from Amazon for affiliate links provided in this list. All affiliate earnings are donated to the SPCA.
Have something to add to the list, please share your ideas with future puppy owners by commenting on this post with your suggestions! Thank you!
This blog contains affiliate links. I may earn commissions from qualifying purchases made from links on this blog. We do not recommend any products that we do not purchase and use for our dogs.