WE PLANT THE "SEEDS OF IDEAS" IN DOG OWNERS MINDS - THESE IDEAS EVENTUALLY BLOSSOM INTO A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF DOG BEHAVIOUR - Sally Hopkins
WE PLANT THE "SEEDS OF IDEAS" IN DOG OWNERS MINDS - THESE IDEAS EVENTUALLY BLOSSOM INTO A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF DOG BEHAVIOUR - Sally Hopkins

FOOD TREATS AS MOTIVATORS

This Chapter introduces the following topics: -

Fresh food treats

Dried food treats

Which foods?

Size matters!! - Quality not quantity

Variety is the spice of life

My dog is not interested in food treats

Sardine cake recipe

Liver cake recipe

 

IT SATISFIES SO MANY SENSES

Food is by far the most traditional method of rewarding and motivating a dog. The secret of its success is that Nature designed the canine species to be tireless scavengers, and dogs get a great deal of sensory satisfaction from being given food as a reward.

The morsel of food excites their sense of -

  • SMELL in many different ways. A dog can detect the food's air scent as its owner carries the food in their pocket/bum-bag/hand; as it takes the food from their owner's hand, from a treat box, or from the ground; and also exploring the area where the food was (dogs can detect the molecules left behind on the surface where the food was put) "just in case it had missed a bit ......". It is quite common for dogs to concentrate their noses on a particular location where other dogs had been given treats or food - this is a further reward for a dog and it should be allowed the time to explore the environment.
  • TASTE as it goes in their mouth. Dogs particularly enjoy the taste of food that is not part of their daily diet - such as cooked human food (the stronger the taste and smell the better!)
  • SIGHT as it tries to locate the tiny morsel in the grass, treat box etc
  • TOUCH. Dog enjoy having different textures (hard, soft, crunchy, squidgey, rubbery etc) in their mouths.

This stimulation of the senses when giving dogs food is often overlooked, and one that is addressed by feeding your dog natural non-processed foods such as those advocated in Dr Ian Billinghurst's book Give Your Dog A Bone (which can be purchased through Sheila Harper Canine Education mail-order service).

 

Fresh Food Treats

Dried Food Treats

Click here for our RECOMMENDED STOCKIST OF DOG TREATS

WHICH FOODS?

As Values of Motivators explains, it is important to understand which food treats your dog finds highly rewarding and which foods it still enjoys but are not so exciting. You can then use these different value treats to great effect, depending on the training situation or task that the dog is required to do. Here is list of some different foods that can be used as treats - experiment with your dog and try to work out your dog's "value scale" (ie least exciting treat number = 1, most exciting treat = 100).

FRESH
FRESH
Needs cooking
(meat off-the-bone)
No cooking required
Fish Treats
Chicken or Turkey*
Scraps of cooked meats
from the Deli' counter - eg
ham, salami, beef,
luncheonmeat*
Dried dog foods - eg
chicken, lamb, beef,
tripe, fish, turkey
Lamb*
Tinned or
packet Hot-dogs
Dog biscuits -
eg Bonios, Shapes etc*
Beef *
Tinned Fish -
eg tuna, sardines, pilchards,
salmon, prawns
Dog treat strips*

Liver Cake or
Sardine Cake
(Recipe)

Spicy sausages
- eg Pepperami*

Powdered
Liver tablets

Pork*
Bread*
Dog treat sticks*
Sausage*
Cheese*
Dog chocolate drops*

Gammon
or Bacon*

Fruit or Vegetables
(dried or fresh)*
(WARNING - do not give large
quantities of grapes or raisins
as they can cause renal failure
in dogs)

Cat treats -
eg fishy flavours
Liver*

Human Snacks*
(Beware of sugar, salt, or chocolate
as they can cause serious health
problems to dogs
)

Pig snout or ear
Beefburger*
Dried tripe stick

 

* Size matters! - QUALITY NOT QUANTITY
It is very tempting to give your dog large pieces of food as a reward, however, the dog does not appreciate the amount that it is given - after all, the treat is swallowed very quickly! As explained earlier, the dog is far more interested in the smell, taste and texture of the treat and will appreciate having a small "gem" rather than a large unappetising biscuit.

Take the time to cut the various foods into very small pieces (as and when you have any leftovers from your meal etc) and store them all together in an airtight container in the freezer or fridge.

Another reason for keeping the food treats extremely small is that dogs can suffer serious health problems from exercising on a full stomach, or becoming overweight.

Fresh treats cut smaller than a £1 coin or a Euro (approx. 5-10mm)

 

VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE
You may be wondering how on earth you are going to amass such a wide range of food treats! The answer lies in collecting and storing any fresh leftovers in one large airtight container in the freezer; mixing them together as you add to the box; then taking out a handful of the mixture as and when needed and storing it in the fridge in a small container such as a Treat Box. Another large container of the dried and processed treats can be mixed up and stored in a cupboard (as they have a longer shelf life) and another treat box filled for these types of treats. Your dog will be very keen to see what you take out of the boxes each time you open them to reward him!!

 

"MY DOG IS NOT INTERESTED IN FOOD TREATS"
Some dogs do not seem to be interested in food as a reward. There are a number of reasons why this could be -

  • Some dogs are suffering from long-term stress and have lost their appetite and ability to enjoy their keen senses of taste, smell and touch. Their adrenaline levels are so high that their bodies have concentrated all their resources into flight/fight survival mode, and their metabolic rate is often very high. These dogs never seem to put on sufficient weight, have little or no interest in their daily food or treats, and may suffer from diarrhea as this is another symptom of stress.
  • Other dogs may be overweight and have no appetite or interest in food treats. These dogs would benefit in a reduction in the amount of food they are given at meal times, or having some of their daily allowance used as food motivators instead. Be careful of following the "recommended daily allowance" quantities too strictly on the packaging. Like all the animal kingdom, some animals metabolic rates are more efficient than others and do not require as much food to live on as others of their species.
  • Many manufactured dog foods are so bland and boring that the dog's digestive system is unable to function normally. The dogs senses become jaded or impaired and their general quality of life can be effected.
  • Another reason may be that the dog has built up bad associations with the food that is being offered to it. It may have been told off in the past for trying to "steal" a similar smelling/tasting food from a human or another dog. It may have been offered titbits when it was caught and taken to a dog pound and is fearful of a repetition in its new home.

 

A great recipe is Sardine cake cooked in the microwave (my dogs love it!)

SARDINE CAKE RECIPE
2 tins of sardines in sunflower oil - any type of tinned fish can be used
4 eggs
Garlic to taste (garlic paste in a tube can be used)
Liquidise or blend the ingredients together and then add either plain flour or rice flour to mix to a cake like consistency.
Cook in a microwave (650 watt) on high for 5-7 minutes. It comes out nice and firm and easy to cut up and it freezes well

 

LIVER CAKE RECIPE
500gr raw liver (remove any "stringy" bits)
2 eggs
1 clove of garlic
Blend the above ingredients in a blender or food processor until thoroughly liquidised. Stir in as much plain flour (wholemeal flour is healthier) as possible to make a firm dough. Press into a lined or greased tin (I find a swiss roll baking tray is just the right size) and bake in a moderate oven (350C) for approximately 20 minutes until browned. Allow to cool in the tin. Cut into very very small pieces and store in a airtight container (it is extremely smelly, which is why the dogs love it so much!).

 

These are just a few ideas of what you can do, use and develop further. Ask your friends what ideas they have.

 

This web site has been written by Sally Hopkins (unless the author of the web page is stated otherwise).

 

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