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Posts tagged ‘treats’

Use It Or Lose It

Spring. It’s right around the corner. At least, that’s what the calendar tells me. We just got a bunch of snow yesterday. But before that, I saw a patch of grass. And we had a bunch of 40 degree + days here in Maine.

You know what happens when it gets even a little bit nicer out, right? All the dogs come out.  All. Of. Them.

I don’t know where these dogs come from. All winter long, I’m out walking the same dogs, along the same quiet streets. It’s just us, the mailmen, and a few manic speed walkers on their lunch breaks.  We see other dogs too, but it’s the same crew every day. Then spring hits and a tsunami of new dogs hits every neighborhood.

Where are all of these dogs for months and months? Do their people train them to poop in a bucket in the basement until its warm enough for them to go outside again?  Do they all have one of these?

I don’t how it works, but it’s the same every year.  The temperature goes up just a little bit and suddenly my afternoon walks go from being calm and routine to a game of Donkey Kong.

All of the dogs I walk are reactive to some degree. Many of them have some solid training under their belts and are able to stay relatively calm when we pass by dogs on the street (as long as we have some space). Our walks are pretty laid back all winter and we get to be on autopilot.

But when spring comes and the number of dogs they need to deal with is suddenly 1 billion times higher than what they’ve been dealing with all winter, they struggle a bit. They need a little time to acclimate to the deluge.

And I can see the same thing happening for all the basement bucket poopers too. They’re out and about for the first time in months and, while they might normally be very cool on leash, they’re a hot mess at the beginning of spring.

In my experience, the ability to stay calm on leash around other dogs is like a muscle:  If they don’t use it, they lose it. This goes double for reactive dogs.


useit


A lot of people I know are surprised by this. They think that if they take their reactive dogs to a class or two and their dogs improve, then they’re set for life. But in reality, it takes regular practice. You have to keep working at it.

We wouldn’t go to the gym every day for a month, never go back again, but still expect our bodies to stay in shape forever. I have tried this so, so many times and, I swear, it never works. We have to exercise consistently in order to maintain and build our muscles.

“What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.”

Gretchen Rubin


That’s why so many reactive dog owners keep going to classes, join group walks, and do other structured activities around other dogs. It allows them to practice in a safe, structured environment around other dogs. It keeps other dogs from becoming a total novelty (aka a really big deal!) to their dogs. And that helps their dogs stay “fit” so that when they’re out taking a walk in a more hectic environment, their dogs are better equipped to handle the challenges that pop up.

If your reactive dog made huge strides for a while, but then you kept them inside most of the winter (that polar vortex was NO JOKE), then you might experience this sort of “muscle atrophy” when you start going for walks again this spring.

Your dogs haven’t flexed their “I totally know what to do when I see another dog and it is NOT to fling my turds at them” muscle for a while. Every dog they see is a novelty and they’re having trouble remembering the game plan. Don’t panic. Your dogs are  just out of shape.

No judgement. It happens to all of us.

Same goes for the dogs that have been walking all winter. If they’re anything like the dogs I walk, then they’ve been using those muscles, but at the same low level for months. When springtime hits, it’s like jumping up a few levels on the old stair climber. The dogs need some time to gently reacclimate their muscles to this increased challenge.

So if you and your dogs are a little rusty – for whatever reason – don’t freak out. Spring might be a good time to take a training class to ease back into hanging out with other people and dogs again. Or take a few walks with your friends and their dogs. Or if your dog would be up for it, try a structured group walk. Add some sort of regular practice into your routine.

And don’t forget to bring more treats on your walks for a while. There are at least a gazillion and half more dogs out there, plus joggers, that you’ll want to reward your dog for staying cool around. Be sure your pockets are well stocked. No one said we can’t have a snack while we’re working out. So go ahead: Use it, reward it, keep it.  

In the comments tell me: Has this happened with your dogs in the spring or after a dog walking sabbatical? How have you helped them?

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I Was a Teenage Gap Girl

UPDATE: As of October 2013, Amazon has banned all residents of the state of Maine from their affiliate program. It’s a gigantic pissing match between a giant corporation and our state government over the “unconstitutional Maine state tax collection legislation passed by the state legislature and Governor LePage…” (quote from Amazon). So the store still exists, but I no longer earn any commission on the products you purchase there. Fun times, right? Stay tuned for updates!

I want to warn you: This blog post is going to result in a shameless self promotion that may make me wealthy one day. And by wealthy, I mean not rich at all, but more like the kind of woman who owns multiple pairs of flip flops simultaneously, including a pair of “dress” flops. You should stop reading now if that makes you uncomfortable. No hard feelings. Promise.

Before we go any further: I have to tell you about working at the Gap when I was in high school. This was weird, because it was the 90’s and I didn’t look like I worked at the Gap. I dressed like a boy. A boy who alternated between farming (overalls and flannel shirts) and skating (huge jeans and ringer tees) and apprenticing at a funeral home (black, black, black, and Docs), while rapping on the side (puffy vests and Africa medallions – just kidding! I never wore a puffy vest).

But I was a teenager in New Jersey and that means the majority of the jobs available to me were at The Mall. When the Gap offered me five dollars an hour, how could I refuse?

So I worked at the Gap and I was a really, really good salesperson. I sold a lot of clothes because I told people not to buy stuff.

I always gave people my honest opinion about how they looked, which if you’ve ever worked a dressing room, you’ll know means I had to tell people they looked terrible a lot. For those of you who have never worked a dressing room, I’ll just say this: it’s never a bad idea to wear clothes in your actual size, not the size you wish you were or the size you were when you were three.

You might think that I got slapped a lot. Nope! People were tired of corny salesgirls telling them to “just cinch it!” and they appreciated my honesty. When I suggested different clothes, ones that looked good on them, people trusted my opinion.

I genuinely wanted everyone to look nice. Especially all the middle-aged ladies that were going on dates. I really wanted to help them because I thought they were super brave to be out there dating when they were so clearly vulnerable to breaking a hip. Looking back, these women were probably 26. But still. I wanted them to feel fierce (I can say “fierce” because it was the 90’s and RuPaul taught me everything I knew about being a woman).

 

All of my teenage fashion influences, in one photo. (source)

Almost all of my teenage fashion influences are in this photo. (source)


This radical honesty, combined with my drag queen-like dedication to empowering women to look their best, led to loyal customers and many sales. Occasionally, it also led to people not buying anything. This annoyed my managers.

Shockingly, I never got fired. Not even when I showed up to work dressed like Columbo (brown wool pants, crumpled white button down shirt, cigar in my pocket). I’d like to think that was because the corporate offices at the Gap were monitoring my new approach to sales: honesty, empathy, and relationship building. But it was probably because I left for college a few months later, before my managers could come up with a plan to fire me without triggering a law suit (discriminating against an employee for being a Peter Falk impersonator is serious business).

So all of this is to say: I’m not comfortable selling stuff just for the sake of the sale. I have to believe that it’s really looking good on you/making your life a little easier/getting you laid on your date tonight.

And the point of saying that is because: I wanted to tell you that I started an Amazon affiliate store filled with some of the stuff I mention here on my blog, as well as some of the stuff that you’ve told me is awesome, and I hope you’ll check it out some time. I thought it would be helpful to have some of the products I write about all in one place for easy browsing and linking.

 

Notes from a Dog Walker Store


Full (Monty) Disclosure: I earn a little advertising fee when you buy stuff in the store – it’s not so much that I can buy an Airstream, but it’s a little pocket change to go towards paying the bills. The less time I spend rolling pennies, the more time I have to write. Which, after reading this, you may or may not want me to do. (10/7/13: Not anymore. See update at the beginning of the blog).

I feel like I should say, just for the record: affiliates doesn’t change what I write about. I share stuff here that I think will be helpful and that I really like, whether or not it’s for sale in the store. Some of what I mention here is for sale in the store, some of it is for sale in other people’s stores, and some of it is being sold out of the back of a truck by that cousin of yours that no one mentions by name anymore. I like to spread the business around. 

No pressure to visit the store. I just felt like it was self-sabotaging to not even announce that I’d made one. So there:  I made a store

Phew!

p.s. It’s not your hips. No one looks good in a treat pouch. But, wear it anyway, because Supermodel, You Better Work.

Also, I know you want to watch this right now. I just did:





Nose Work: Where Every Dog Is a Winner (Even the Naughty Ones)

Boogie and I just wrapped up a four week Nose Works class. For those of you that are new to Nose Work, here’s what it is, straight from the founders themselves:

“Inspired by working detection dogs, K9 Nose Work is the fun search and scenting activity for virtually all dogs and people. This easy to learn activity and sport builds confidence and focus in many dogs, and provides a safe way to keep dogs fit and healthy through mental and physical exercise.

K9 Nose Work starts with getting your dog excited about using his nose to seek out a favorite toy or treat reward hidden in one of several boxes, expanding the game to entire rooms, exterior areas, and vehicles. As your dog grows more confident with his nose, target odors are introduced, and competition skills are taught.”

Now you know. You can also check out this Bark video to see dogs in action.

Unlike the Nose Works class I took with Birdie, where there were other dogs present in the room, this session was set up for reactive dogs. Each dog had the room all to themselves while they worked.

My camera’s died mid-class, so I only managed to grab a few not-so-great photos (none of Boogie – wah!)

truffle coached

That’s my gal pal Truffle. Her dad is helping her get to the treats she discovered in this closed box.


Now that I’ve taken two basic level Nose Works classes with two very different dogs (one senior, one reactive) and with two very different groups of dogs, I would like to share the following with all of you:

You should do Nose Work with your dogs.

Here’s why:

1. Just about any dog can do it.

2. Just about any human can do it.


Allow me to expand.

Your dog can do Nose Work, even if they are:

  • Ancient
  • Lacking manners
  • Oblivious to recall
  • Reactive
  • Dog aggressive
  • Scared of people
  • Afraid of novel objects or places
  • Recovering from an injury
  • Not that into food
  • Really into food
  • Terrible on leash
  • Bursting with energy
  • Overweight
  • Blind
  • Deaf
  • Missing a limb
  • Missing an eye
  • Missing teeth
  • Missing their favorite episode of New Girl

You can do Nose Work even if you are:

  • A terrible trainer
  • Out of shape
  • Out of cash
  • Uncoordinated
  • Kind of quiet
  • Working with dogs in a shelter
  • Not that into leaving the house
  • Not sure if you even like doing dog stuff

That’s because Nose Work is all about having fun, no skills necessary. 

birdie cone

Birdie hits the wrong end of the cone. No biggie. She’ll figure out that the food is hidden on the other side.


If you have a dog that you’re not able to do too much with – because of any of the reasons listed above – you can do Nose Work.

If you want to build a better bond with your dog, learn more about observing your dog’s body language, and enjoy watching dogs flex their natural abilities, you should check out Nose Works.

Here’s more about why this is the activity anyone can do:


For Nervous Nellie Dogs: Nose Work in a wonderful confidence builder for dogs that are afraid of novel objects and environments. Each week they’re slowly exposed to new things, can investigate at their own pace, and are rewarded for their bravery. Week one Boogie was afraid to put his head in the boxes. By week four Boogie was putting his head in cones, tunnels, bags, and anything else he could sniff around in. Like one of the normals!

For Reactive Dogs: This is an awesome way to let them cut loose in a safe, controlled environment. Those of us with reactive dogs are intimately familiar with feeling like failures. We show up for a class or a walk or a training session and our dogs lose their marbles and we go home stressed and sad. Not at Nose Works. Your dog will succeed at this. And honestly, I just can’t stress how important it is for reactive dog families to have successful, stress-free fun some times. It will bring some joy back into your relationship with your dog and give you a boost so you can face the tougher stuff together.

For Golden Oldies and Disabled Dogs: Nose Work is a way to try something new with your dogs that is physically low impact. They may be a little slower than the young whippersnappers in class, but it doesn’t matter because there’s no losing here. Birdie said it was almost as much fun as falling asleep in her recliner while listening to This American Life. She loved having a Girl’s Night Out with me and eating a lot of treats. Old and disabled dogs deserve to party too. YOLO, right?

For High Energy Dogs: This a great way to burn off that energy without exhausting yourself! It takes a lot of focus for the dogs to do Nose Work and they are tired at the end of class.  Also good if you have trouble finding safe places to exercise your dogs – try adding Nose Works to your toolbox to help tire your dogs out.

For Shelter Dogs: Because shelter dogs are bored and stressed and need to have mental stimulation in order to stay sane while they wait to be discovered by an adopter. Because even if you have very few resources, you can find a volunteer who will hide treats (in the Shelter Director’s office if need be) and cheer on a homeless dog for a minute. Because you don’t need any skills to help the dogs do this, so just go do it. 

For Broke Folks and Hermits:  Even if cash is tight, you hate leaving the house, and/or there’s no place to take a class in your area, you can still do Nose Work. All you need are treats and boxes. Here are some tips for playing at home and some more help. And here are some other ideas for different scent games. 

For People Who are Allergic to Dog Training: Here’s a little secret (just between you and me): I don’t like dog training. I’ll do it because I have to, but I don’t really enjoy it. I’d rather be at the library reading past issues of the New York Times Magazine. What can I say? I love dogs, I love playing with and walking them, but training makes me want to poke my eyes out. But I like Nose Work. Why? Because it’s an “obedience free zone” and your role, as the human part of the team, is to stand back and enjoy watching your dogs work. If they get stuck, you coach them using a happy voice and body movements. When the dogs discover the hide, you have a party to celebrate.  I like coaching. I like cheering on dogs. I like Nose Works.

I bet most of you will too.

So go on and have a little fun with your dogs now, even if you’re struggling with training or behavior issues. Do something you can’t fail at for once. Everyone gets a gold star in Nose Work!


Will you tell me about your experiences with Nose Work in the comments section? Plus, check out these stinky Nose-Work-worthy Tuna Fudge treats you can make at home.

And check out the professional version of Nose Works…meet the Arson Dogs who use their noses to catch the bad guys!

Our Love Smells Like A Hot Tuna Melt

This past weekend we celebrated Birdie Day at our house. Five years ago we brought Birdie home to live with us (her full adoption story is coming…stay tuned!) and she’s been making our home a much funnier place ever since. Mostly because she farts really loud while watching us eat dinner. It never fails to make us laugh. We are a simple people.

Birdie is the world’s easiest dog to live with and has been since the day she arrived. Because she lived the first six years (that’s right YEARS) of her life at a shelter, Birdie gets to do whatever she wants. That’s the deal. If she had any issues, we’d certainly work with her on them, but she doesn’t, so we don’t. Birdie is polite, sweet, likes naps, and doesn’t poop in the house. My dream dog.

And now she’s 11 years old. So what do you give a silver fox(y) lady like Birdie on her 5th Gotcha Day and approximately 11th Bird-day?

Hot Tuna.

Thanks to our friend Teri who runs Canine Kinship here in Portland Maine, we happened to have the world’s stinkiest dog treat recipe on hand. It took just minutes to whip up these uber-smelly tuna treats.

Here are the deets:

Tuna Fudge

(2) 6 oz cans undrained tuna (or salmon or mackerel)

(2) eggs

1 and1/2 cups of flour

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Tuna Treats

Mix all that greatness together, then press it into a greased 9×13″ pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

tuna fudge

Let cool. Cut into strips, then dice. Makes approximately one ton of treats.  Give or take. Refrigerate or freeze treats.

tuna treats

Super easy, super cheap, super stinky. Birdie thought it was an excellent Birdie Day gift.

Especially because I let her lick the bowl.

birdie licks the bowl

These treats came in handy for the Nose Works class Birdie and I have been taking recently at Canine Kinship. It’s our Girl’s Night Out and Birdie thinks it’s thebestthingever since all she has to do is wander around smelling stuff and eating treats. Stinky treats like Tuna Fudge. What more could a Birdie Dog want?

birdie finds the treat tube

Our pal Nola is also in the class (read her blog here) and was gracious enough to sample our treats this week. Nola gave them a snarf of appreciation.

So there you go: two out two dogs in our class give these treats their drool of approval.

p.s. more on how awesome Nose Works is later. If you’re not doing it with your dogs yet – sign up. It’s a hoot.

Birdie w/the treats in Box

Well, that’s all for now kids. It’s just this one thing: I love this dog.

And our love smells like a hot tuna melt.

Thanks to Teri for the treat idea and to Nola’s mom Danielle for snapping some photos of Birdie working hard in class!

That’s Cool Dog.

It’s really hot in Maine today, which means it’s scorching in the rest of the country. I’m worried that everyone south of New Hampshire is bursting into flames as I write this.

So for all of you with hot dogs out there, here’s a few ideas to keep them cool today (if you can’t smuggle them into a movie theater for an afternoon of popcorn and ice-cold air conditioning):

 

Kool Collar

Fill this collar with ice and keep your dog’s body temp down while you’re out in the sun or stuck  inside a stuffy apartment. Yes, you can wear one too.

KoolCollars_001

Hurtta Cooling Coat 

Soak this  coat in cold water, wring it out, then put it on your dog. Keeps them cool as the water evaporates and it protects them from the sun. RuffWear also makes a similar coat.

Kool Dogz Ice Treat Maker

Keep your dog busy and cool for hours with this hunk o’ ice and toys.  Perfect for shelter dogs in outdoor kennels. You can also make one with stuff around the house. Learn how from Animal Farm Foundation here.

Kiddie Pool

Boogie learned how to swim in a lake last summer, but we can’t get to a lake most days. For M-F swims, I’m all about the kiddie pool. Low tech. High fun.

Other low-tech ideas:

Freeze chicken or beef broth in ice cube trays for a tasty, cold treat. Put a cold, wet bandanna around your dog’s neck. Put some green beans or sweet potato slices in the freezer for a frozen snack. Feed them dinner from a frozen Kong.  Read the Polar Express out loud to them.

What are some of your favorite ways to keep your dogs cool on hot summer days? Do tell!



Meet the Kuzzle

Boogie isn’t a huge fan of going to the vet (we’ll save that story for another day). In order to make vet visits a little less stressful for everyone, I’ve been working on getting Boogie more comfortable wearing a muzzle, just in case he needs it. And while he already tolerates wearing his basket muzzle, I’d like for him to have a more positive association with it.

A few months ago I read about “muzzle-cicles” in Grisha Stewart’s BAT book (she has all kinds of great muzzle related advice – check it out) where she describes filling a basket muzzle with food, freezing it, and using it like a Kong.

I figured Boogie would enjoy sticking his snout into the basket to enjoy some crazy-good snacks and doing so just might help him fall in lust with his muzzle, bearer of frozen delights.

I thought I’d give that a try. Here’s how:

First, wrap the outside of the muzzle in plastic wrap to form a barrier, so the food doesn’t fall out of the sides. I was out of plastic wrap, so I used a piece of wax paper, then covered that in tin foil so I could smush it on there real good (highly technical, no?):

Then I filled it with apple slices at the bottom and a mixture of kibble and wet food. To guild the lily, I spread some peanut butter at the opening. And freeze!

Behold the Kuzzle. 

Or maybe it’s a Mong?  Either way, you’ve got yourself a frozen Muzzle/Kong type treat:

Boogie was wary of it at first, as he is with all novel objects. He licked the outside of the Kuzzle for a while, keeping his tush in the air, just in case he needed to make a quick escape from this odd duck.

Eventually, he settled down on his bed and enjoyed the Kuzzle in all its glory. After lying down and licking away, he stood back up to get some traction so he could score the last bits of food.

He ate it all, then tried to eat the Kuzzle itself.  So my advice is to carefully watch your dogs if you do give this a try. It’s a quick jump from frozen treat to new rubber chew toy.

I’m not sure if this will pay off in the long run, but I’m going to give it a try a few more times in the hopes that Boogie will get all wiggly at the sight of his new favorite treat dispenser.

By the way, Boogie is camera shy, so taking photos of him didn’t exactly help him feel comfortable. Next time, he’ll get to romance the Kuz in private – no paparazzi.

Update: Boogie loves his basket muzzle and wears it happily these days. Huzzah for the Kuzzle!


What about you guys? Anyone do some creative Kuzzling or muzzle tricks at their house?

Looking for muzzles, the BAT book, and more? Check out the Resources on the Dogs In Need of Space website!

kuzzle (1)

High Value Treats for DINOS

Finding a treat that your DINOS™ is willing to work for, especially around distractions, can be tough. The “sure thing” treat that one dog finds rewarding, might get the cold shoulder from the next dog.

Back when I helped out at reactive dog training classes, we’d do taste tests to see which treats the dogs were willing to pass up vs. gobble down. We found that freeze-dried raw treats were consistently a bigger hit than soft training treats and often more popular than fresh chicken or cheese.

I like to use Stella and Chewy’s Freeze Dried Raw patties (broken into little pieces) when I know I need to bust out the big guns to help Boogie get through a potentially stressful moment. I never give him those treats at any other time, so they retain their novelty. That works for Boogie, but I know that every dog is different, so I called on Team DINOS for a list of their favorite high value treats.

If you’re still searching for that magic treat that your dog will love or you want to try something new, here are some great ideas from the team:

Brandi C.  Squeeze cheese!

Krissii F.  Tennis balls!

Stephanie F. Lickety Sticks!

Barbara L.  Chicken breast – she prefers the prepackaged kind – or string cheese.

Laurelin S.  Cheese (string or cream), buffalo liver or sweet potato!

Jo J. Bread and butter; dismembered natural gummy bears; bonito flakes.

Paula K.  My dogs’ favorites have turned out to be thinly sliced hotdogs microwaved until they are curly and crispy!  And for dogs not motivated by food: I had a dog in one of my classes who was not food motivated, so I asked the dog’s owner what was the dog gaga for at home and he answered “the feather duster”. I said, bring it in, and the dog worked for the chance to maul that duster ( it was pink, and the owner was a former Marine)!

True Dog  Tricky Trainers Salmon Flavor Cloud Star Treats, Buddy Biscuits Lamb flavor Treats, Bil-Jac Liver flavor, wet dog or cat food in a small dish, couple licks as a reward.

Marie N.  Freeze dried chicken. It’s like crack to her.

Alexis B.  Red Barn! And the number-one-trumps-everything-on-this-earth thing is carnivore diet from the zoo – my husband works at the zoo and sometimes brings this home, it is mostly raw horse meat which is apparently more delicious than anything else on earth.

natural blance logs

Pia R.  Freeze Dried Chicken!

Julia KLane Liver Brownies from the Liver Lady in Woodstock, IL!Karen C.  Any food. Especially roast chicken, string cheese, bacon.

Judy M.  Diced Natural Balance food logs!

Star F.  Natural Balance food rolls are always a big hit.

Deb M.  Try a fox tail tied to a 2- 2 1/2 ft length of clothesline. Stick it in your back pocket and haul out for a quick rewarding game of tug. Training your dog to be both food and toy motivated is the best!

Noelle B.  For Brewster, if anything is going to get his attention, hot dogs will. But not even that works with a really intense distraction. Other things that work most, but not all the time, are chicken, cheese, and Zuke’s Mini Naturals.

Stacy S. ‎Riddick’s Treats (bison liver treats are like crack to them)

Marge R.  I hate to say it (and I blame my friend Eileen) – sausage, egg and cheese biscuit. What can I say? He gets to choose what is most reinforcing.

orbee ball

Bev R.  Anything that squeaks for my girl. Anything they can tug on for both, especially anything that resembles a flirt pole type thing, tug toys, Orbee ball, but food…nothing..they just are not food motivated.

Sheri-Lyn P.  Chicken every time!

Sadie B.  Some dogs are reluctant to eat when there are distractions or they are stressed. In these situations I would work with very high value food (cheese, etc), toys or even environmental rewards (although that is more difficult to employ practically). My girl finds it aversive to have to stop and eat a treat when belting round an agility course, so a retrieve or game of tug is our reward of choice then the fun doesn’t have to stop!

Laurie W.  Canine Carry Outs! Easy to find and inexpensive.

Kristel S.  Frozen meatballs, pieces of roasted chicken or salmon-flavored Zukes are Murphy’s favorites:-)

Johnny H.  The Disc (frisbee) is my dogs highest value distraction. I don’t have them lying around the house, so he never gets them to play with. At 5pm every day, he knows it’s time for him to go to work. I don’t even need the disc now to use it as a distraction trigger. There is nothing that can redirect his brain over the disc – not a dog or dog altercation, motorbike, squeek toy – nothing brings him out of disc mode until I say “mine now” and put it away.

Elisabet N.  Freeze dried beef liver, and cat food.

Juli T.  Walking – Casey is so uninterested in food that when we are anywhere more interesting than our living room, not even nice smelly pepperoni or peanut butter will get her attention. Moving – preferably at a fast pace – is her reward.

Kristen B.  Toby is all about cut up Natural Balance rolls. He chooses them over one of his typical favorite treats of peanut butter.

Rebecca C.  Squeaky tennis ball for one dog. Target\Archer Farms chicken, spinach sausage does wonders for my other dog.

Angelina W. Vienna sausages!

Dawn F.  Cut up hot dogs and string cheese!

Jackie D.  Home-dried liver, smoked cheese, barbecue chicken, liver sausage…

Jennifer N. Only in extreme situations and VERY TINY bits: Lay’s Stax potato chips! It’s the most insane reaction I’ve ever seen. Even for just a tiny speck of chip, Jacks will focus so hard on it he sees or hears nothing else. Even if he can just smell it, he’s completely focused. Mia isn’t food motivated at all, but anything that squeaks is her addiction…

Jennifer B.  Shady Brook cooked turkey meatballs..doggy crack!

Jenifer R. My dog who used to be HIGHLY leash reactive would turn himself inside out for Gorgonzola if he could!

Linda E. My three porties will eat anything put in front of them! They like Natural Balance in the tubes and it’s relatively easy to use. Their favorite is the one I make from scratch and is super simple: Put the six ingredients (2 cups spelt flour, 1-2 cups Quick Oats or Regular Oatmeal, 1/2 tsp salt (optional), 1tsp baking POWDER, 1 can sardines & 1-3 Tbsp Asian Fish Sauce (optional)+ a little olive oil) into the food processor, grind/ pulse, spread 1/4 to 1/2″ on a cookie sheet, heavily oiled with olive oil & bake. Slow bake @ 300 degrees for 30-40 minutes. I use a pizza cutter to score the treats to size, flip them over & bake for another 30-40 minutes until crisp. Much healthier and less costly! I do the sardines first, with some olive oil to make a paste, then add the dry ingredients. I’m a huge user of go tubes filled with premium duck or rabbit canned dog food. Very easy to use, carry and  doggies just lick it up! These have worked the best for me in the dog to dog aggression area!

Susan C.  Any food.

Brooke P.  Definitely cheese. Cookies also keep my Pom occupied with chewing, rather than reacting while we’re passing tough triggers. He’s a very slow chewer, so it works out. By the time he finishes his cookie, the trigger is long gone.

Ann W.  Peanut Butter. I fill one of the little Tupperware midgies, put the lid on, and when I need to get past some other dogs on the trail, I pull the lid off and let my dog lick at it until we’re past.

Ashley C.  Deli rare roast beef and/or a squeeze tube of liver paste.

Rebecca A.  I’m lucky my reactive guy is both toy and food motivated. He goes absolutely nuts for any toy with a squeaker, so I have a small Wubba Kong that we can tug on past any distraction. But if I need a calmer response (so as not to trigger another dog with his energy while tugging) — it is banana chips, believe it or not!

kong wubba

Ann W.  Livercake with garlic.

Marion B.  I make my own liver and bacon brownies. Yuck!! But I can get back flips for them.

Laurie M.  Baby food meat, dehydrated mini hamburger pieces, roasted and frozen beef roast or chicken breast.

Virginia J.  I know it’s not right, but cat treats are the only thing she is wild for.

K9Capers dog day center  Blueberries and celery!

Suzanne K.  Diced cooked chicken breast for reactive class, Merrick lamb filet treats for our daily walks at the park.

Cheryl C.  Steak – when we are going to a new event/new place I grill up steak the night before.

Jen R.  Boiled and diced beef heart does it every time for mine.

Lisa V.  I know sometimes we have to go to extremes to find what our DINOS will work for. In one of our reactive dog classes the only thing their dog would work for was butter! Yikes! My girl LOVES Trader Joe’s turkey meatballs and her tiny squeaky soccer ball. She will do ANYTHING for that soccer ball!

Jennie M.  My pup has had a hard time concentrating in class lately, but today she worked for biscuits. People biscuits with butter that is…put on when they are hot, so it is all melted in! I baked them this morning. As long as it works, I will bake! Hot dogs and cheese work well also.

Laura P.  If she’s really distracted (or scared) it has to be something she needs to lick. Liverwurst or canned food in a squeeze tube, Cheese or Kong liver squeeze cans, meat-based baby food licked right out of the jar.

Elana B.  Diced chicken gizzards. I nuke the package for about 10 minutes and then dice them into training treat size. Way cheaper than anything from PetSmart or PetCo and not made in China!

Nic F.  Any type of food!

Shoshannah F.  Cheese!Jenifer R.  Cheese! Any kind but the stinkier the better.

Katie G.  Dehydrated beef lung!

Helen W.  Bozi Dinos will ignore every scary thing if he is busy playing tug or squeaky hedgehog games with me (on lead) just to be sure. He also loves roast chicken, steak and bacon.

Nancy B. Boiled chicken cut up into small pieces is the highest value treat. Hot dogs second.

 

I hope that gives all of you some new ideas to try on your walks or in your training classes.

If you have favorites that weren’t mentioned here, let me know in the comments section or on Facebook!

 



 

Straight from the Pig’s Ear: Vegetarian Treats Dogs Love

My dogs aren’t vegetarians, but I am, so I’m always on the lookout for non-meat treats for my gang. I do feed my dogs a meat based diet, but when it comes to their treats, which aren’t so much about nutrition as they are about fun, I prefer to stay away from bully sticks (bull weenies) and pig’s ears.

Between you and me, pig’s ears just make me so sad. Those smooth triangles are just like my own dog’s ears – the same ones I like to softly rub between my thumb and pointer finger while we watch tv at night.  I can never make myself buy them, so I searched out a few vegetarian options for my dogs that I could feel better about buying and they would enjoy.

Even if you’re not a vegetarian,  there are two other reasons why these treats are a good option to consider: smell and choking.  Bully sticks and smoked bones stink. These options are a little easier on our noses. And if you’ve ever jumped across a coffee table to sweep a folded piece of slimy rawhide out of your dog’s throat, you know there are some choking hazards to contend with when dealing with rawhide and bully sticks (which reminds me: don’t leave your dogs alone with those things).  Plus, variety is the spice of life right? Why not give your dog something new?


Here are my top picks:

1. Himalayan Dog ChewsThese long-lasting treats are made of yak and cow milk, salt, and lime juice.  That’s right, it’s cheese! Rock hard cheese, actually, that takes forever for your dog to soften and gnaw down. The cheese is made using traditional methods in Nepal and India, which the company purchases directly from the farmers.

Thinking my dog Boogie would destroy these in minutes, I avoided buying  them for years, but when I finally brought them home, I was pleasantly surprised. It took Boogie a couple of hours to get through one of the medium-sized chews. For Birdie, who is a moderate chewer, it lasted all day.  They’re not cheap, but one Himalayan chew lasts 2-3 times longer than a bully stick in my house, so the cost evens out.  Also, they don’t smell and my dogs don’t gulp down big pieces, so I’m not worried they’ll choke. Worth every penny.



2. Sam’s Yams: These dehydrated, 100% sweet potato chews are a great substitution for pig’s ears or rawhide chips.  For heavy-duty chewers, try the Big Boyz (each chew is the equivalent of half of a sweet potato), and it might last 1-5 minutes. For more moderate chewers, they can last twice as long. If you’ve got a little guy at home, check out their Bichon Fries.  If your dog has allergies, these are a great option because they’re made from a single ingredient. No corn, gluten, soy, wheat –  just sweet potato.  My only warning: expect orange poop later. Do not be alarmed.



3. The Everlasting Treat Ball: If you have a dog that you need to keep busy for a long time, these rubber-like, almost indestructible toys are the bomb – vegetarian or not. They come in a bunch of shapes: the double-sided ball, the fire plug, and the bento ball and they’re all hollow in the middle, so you can use them as puzzle toys by adding kibble.

How are they vegetarian? Because you plug the openings of each toy with an edible, rounded disc, bought separately, and three of the flavors: Vanilla Mint, Hickory Smoke, and the Wheat Free Chicken (with “natural vegetarian chicken flavor”) are all meat-free.  This toy/treat combo can potentially last for many hours, sometimes days, and after they’re done eating, they’ve still got a tough toy to play with.


This is another one of those items I thought my dog would destroy, but has held up really well. When I worked at the pet store, the bento ball and fire plug survived the staff’s large dogs: a pit bull mix, a Weimaraner, and a bulldog mix, chewing on them daily.


With these three vegetarian options, you can feel free to skip the bins of pig’s ears, bull weenies, and cow tails. Whether you’re a vegetarian or just want to give your dog something new to grind on, there’s something for all of us.  And if you have any veggie-friendly favorites, let me know about it!




Living with DINOS™: A Resource Guide

Living with DINOS isn't always easy, but you're not alone and there is help! Check out the tools, classes, and techniques that have made a difference for the DINOS community...

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