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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Choosing the Right Dog Treat

by Carrie Boyko, CEB

Training Time is Fun with Natural Balance

While visiting our local pet superstore recently I was asked by a shopper which treat my dog likes. I glanced down at Oliver and Tanner and then back at the customer saying "Which dog?" Just like you and me, dogs have their preferences. And further each treat that is given has a purpose. Sometimes it's just an "I love you" treat which has no particular inherent criteria. 

For me, most treats are given as a training reward. During especially active days, I sometimes offer a nutritious treat as an afternoon snack to get the dogs through to dinnertime. And finally, some treats are offered to keep the dogs busy while I handle something without their presence. Each of these treating opportunities requires a different type of treat.

One last treating purpose is one that we can sometimes combine--dental care. Let's talk about what to look for when choosing an appropriate treat for each treat time.

Training Treats

Training treats need to be handy so that they can be given at the moment your dog performs the behavior you are endeavoring to encourage. That said, it is best to have them in a pouch on your belt, or otherwise nearby for quick access. Many owners who work at training regularly find that carrying a treat pouch of soft treats around all day can get annoying. Soft treats often have a more obvious scent that may not be unpleasant to you. Baked treats that can easily be broken into appropriately-sized pieces are often best for treat pouches when used throughout the day. Try Natural Balance Healthy Bones, available in large and small breed formulas.

On the other hand, when training in shorter time frames, such as a training class, a soft treat will be more encouraging to your dog. If you're an agility enthusiast or are working on especially difficult behaviors, using a soft treat with a healthy scent will aid your cause immensely. During our agility training, we were always advised to use the Natural Balance Treat rolls, cut up into tiny pieces. The scent wafts by Fido's nose and encourages him toward you as you beckon him through those scary tunnels or over the A-frame.

Finally, training treats should always be very small when training frequently. This will help you avoid adding too many calories to Fido's diet. He can't watch his waistline; that's your job.

Nutritious Afternoon Snacks

On those days when you and your dog walk, bike, hike, swim or otherwise are extremely active, you and your dog are likely to need a pick-me-up about mid-day. For you that will be lunch, but your busy dog may need a snack to pull him through without crashing. The Tillman Treats by Natural Balance were created specifically for your highly-active dog.

Tanner is physically quite active, swimming nearly every day and enjoying other activities such as the dog park, where he can run and socialize off-leash. For Tanner, the physical exertion of this sort of day requires him to have a snack to supplement his caloric intake.

Working dogs, even those that are not highly active, often use their noses, eyes and brains more continuously as they serve their owners. These dogs may burn extra calories with their mind work and, like Tanner, may need extra noshing between meals. 
Oliver is an excellent example of this. Although he relaxes near me while I work at my desk, his nose appears to always be on duty. As a medical alert dog, his job is to let me know when a sudden health issue may be looming. On rare occasions, he has arisen from an apparent snooze at my feet to alert me to a health issue that required me to take action. I have learned that his nose never stops working!

Busy Treats for Alone Time

Despite Oliver's 'connected at the hip' approach to me, I sometimes like to do something without his presence. He doesn't completely understand the logic behind these separations, as he will often give me that telling head tilt that lets me know he's confused. I've been successfully able to redirect his attention by giving him a large treat that will keep him busy for 10 minutes or more. With his small teeth, it doesn't take much to accomplish this goal. He loves the Natural Balance L.I.T. Jerky Bars Treats that are larger and more satisfying to chew on than a typical soft treat.

Tanner is a bit more challenging when I seek to keep him busy. There are some treats out there that are harder to work on and keep your dog involved for a good deal longer but my approach is to take a number of these same treats and stuff them into a Kong or other stuffable toy such that it becomes a greater task to get to the payload.

Treat balls are another way to handle this quiet time, using small treats in a ball that slowly dispenses the treats as your dog rolls it around the house. The Small Breed version of L.I. T. is perfect for this activity, and these baked treats don't leave stains on carpets--always a plus.

Dental Chews are a Treat with Natural Balance:

Keep in mind that when you want to help your dog work off the plaque on his teeth, those dental chews do have calories. If you're in the habit of offering a daily dental chew, watch the nutrition and calories in the treats you select. Check out Natural Balance's dental treats that come in several varieties to suit your discriminating Fido's taste.

The "I Love You" Treat

I know; I just had to throw this in here. My dogs enjoy the new semi-moist Belly Bites and
the Roll-a-Rounds. The latter is a crunchy treat with a hearty aroma. Yummy! Always remember that this is a time to bond with your dog. Add a belly rub just for fun!

If you are looking for treats to use for a particular purpose, feel free to leave a comment and I'll answer with a suggestion or two. Happy treating! 
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As an NB Insider, I share information and news about Natural Balance and their products. I have been compensated with sponsored travel to industry events and food for my pets.


Unknown said...

Thaats great! Very good treat tips!
((Husky hugz))
"Love is being owned by a husky"

Anonymous said...

I am starting to train Addie and have tried a few treats. Some she likes and some not so much but my next round will be to try Natural Balance. Thank you for the tips!

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