Giving your dog treats rewards both of you – your dog is happy and it pleases you. But it’s important to choose the right amount of treats and that they are offered at the right time. With the problem of pet obesity growing, treats should be offered in moderation.
There are a wide variety of treats to choose from, many with all natural ingredients heading the list. Commercially made treats come in different sizes, some are low calorie and some offer different flavors – chicken, beef, salmon, duck, sweet potato and so on.
You can make your own treats too. There are lots of recipes available for biscuits, muffins, iced treats, and jerky. Beware of all jerky, even home made jerky, as it has been linked to illness and the death of many dogs. Cut fruits and veggies in small pieces and offer them as low cal treats. My gerbil loves fresh carrot sticks and so do my dogs. When I’m feeling lazy I give them frozen carrots, string beans, broccoli and they love it. No need to defrost, they eat them straight from the freezer. Hard cheese cut in small pieces, bits of chicken, meat or fish – all tasty and healthy for your pet.
If you choose to give bones, use only the big beef bones and keep an eye on your dog when s/he chews them. Smaller bones and particularly chicken bones are dangerous and can result in an emergency trip to the veterinarian.
Avoid foods such as chocolate, grapes, raisins, dough. They are among foods highly toxic to pets. And don’t feed your pets highly spiced or fried foods. They can create digestive problems besides adding on those pounds.
When should your pet be given treats? The best time to offer treats is during training sessions when they can be used as a reward for learning behaviors. Training is ongoing throughout the dog’s life and can be reinforced by making your dog work for a treat. Give a command and when it’s done well, hand out a treat. It can be a fun game for you and your dog and you get to spend quality time together.