Let’s Discuss The Best Dog Treats For Training
Deciding what treats to use is one of the most important parts in training your Labrador. But before that, you must first ask yourself if training with treats would be the most useful and practical for you and your dog.
There are many different schools of thought about dog training out there, the most popular one being the traditional method which involves giving treats. While there are a lot of serious dog trainers out there that do not believe in this approach, it is still one of the most widely used by professionals and non-professionals alike. For beginners, traditional training methods are most definitely recommended.
What Treats Do I Use?
Now, let’s get on to the question of what treats to use. Despite what other owners think, you cannot just simply use whatever food is present in your pantry. Remember that Labradors, like other large dog breeds, have different nutritional needs compared to other breeds. That is why in this article, you will be able to learn what treats to use and what treats to avoid, as well as tips on how to properly use them.
When it comes to what treats to use, it may come as a bit confusing to choose from many different options. To avoid confusion, we can categorize them into store-bought treats and home-made treats, both having their good points.
Store-bought treats include those that are pre-packed and pre-made like animal crackers and even including wet dog food and kibble. Many Lab owners often choose them because they are very convenient to use, mainly because they are already nutritionally balanced and easy to serve and prepare.
When selecting dog treats from stores, there are a few important things to remember. Dogs are not used to eating grain-based products and carbohydrate-rich foods, and too many carbs can also be harmful to their health, so be careful in buying dog treats that have lots of fillers in them, especially ones that use corn, wheat, or potatoes. You must also make sure that your Labs’ treats are made of high-quality ingredients such as free range meats, organic eggs, fresh fruits, and vegetables, etc. It must not also have more fats than necessary, with no additives and preservatives. The most popular store-bought dog treats are those made from dried fruits and vegetables, dehydrated meats, meat flavored animal crackers and meat-flavored pastes.
On the other hand, home-made treats can include raw or cooked foods that can be readily found in the home or ones that you also eat. However, as the owner, you must take into consideration that there is a wide difference between what humans and dogs can safely eat and digest. So here are ten of the most popular homemade dog treats that you can safely use to train your Labradors:
- Meats. One common food to use as treats for large dogs such as Labradors are meats. They can’t be limited as a meal ingredient only since proteins are a huge part of dogs’ nutrition. You can choose various kinds of meat, from chicken, pork, and beef to sausages, pepperoni, and hotdogs. But remember the higher the fat content of the meat or meat product, the lesser amount you must use. For convenience and hygiene, you can choose to cook your meats for a bit or until it dries out.
- Fish. Fish flesh can also be used as a treat, whether raw, canned, dehydrated or cooked. Mackerel, tuna, and pink salmon are some of the most popular fish treats used in training, although they are used sparingly because of the fishy smell it leaves on the owners and dried fish easily falls apart.
- Fruits. They are also a welcome option when it comes to training treats. You can use fruits that can be easily digested by dogs such as papayas, apples, berries, bananas, nectarines, apricots, mangoes, peaches, pears, and melons. You can dispense them raw or prepare your own dried batches.
- Vegetables and tubers can be used, too. Make sure to use the less starchy ones such as carrots and sweet potatoes. You must cook the sweet potatoes first, either by boiling them or baking (not frying) them into chips, while you can serve carrots as both raw and cooked.
- Some cheeses. Though dairy products, especially milk, is widely avoided as food for dogs, some cheeses are surprisingly okay to use as training treats, particularly cream cheese, mozzarella and string cheeses. Be careful with dispensing cheeses as treats though because they have a calcium content, and too much can help cause your Labs to develop debilitating health conditions.
- Yoghurt. Aside from some cheeses, yoghurt is also another dairy product that can be used as treats to help train your Labradors. It has lots of probiotics that can make your dogs’ stomachs very healthy. They can be used in making sweet frozen treats, as well.
- Eggs. One of the cheapest and easiest to find dog treats is eggs. They are an excellent source of protein, and you can serve them in many different ways. To prevent the use of crumbly eggs, you can have them dried out and added with a bit of flavor using a sprinkle of garlic powder.
- Gravy. You read that right. Gravy is one popular dog training treat which a lot of owners vow makes their dogs crazy. This may be mostly due to the meaty drippings in the mix and its flavor-packed aroma. Be careful in dispensing this, though, since some gravy recipes have a high sodium and fat content. As usual, moderation is the key.
After knowing what foods you can use as treats for training your Labradors, here are a few more tips in choosing and presenting your dog treats.
- For wet food products, you can use liquid treat dispensers, baby food jars, food tubes, and Kong toys. These make them easier and less messy to dispense.
- Training is mostly based on positive reinforcement, and what makes the best reinforcer if not the foods that your dog loves? You can use their favorite foods, may it be kibbles or snacks. Also, make sure to know what foods they love and what foods they go crazy for so that you can give prizes for good behavior and prizes for their best ones.
- Finally, do not forget that treats are only treats and not their main meals. You must not give large portions of treats since they may consider it as their meal and will defeat the purpose of the treat, which is to tease and reward your dog.