Tag Archives: Training Treats

Pumpkin and Carob Dog Biscuits

Pumpkin and your Pets

Pumpkin Dog Biscuits

Last month Daisy was unwell. She had an upset stomach which resulted in bouts of diarrhoea. That is bad enough when you have a dog with four working legs, but for a dog that cannot walk unaided, it is deeply unpleasant. The vet advised a bland chicken and rice diet, which we had already begun, but he also prescribed some paste which did the trick and she was soon back to normal. We were relieved, but of course, the bill followed! Now, we don’t begrudge paying for her treatment, but it got us thinking about natural alternatives. In the distant past, we had given our dogs pumpkin when they were unwell, so since it is now pumpkin season, we thought we would revisit the idea.

Why is pumpkin good for dogs?

Pumpkin provides a natural source of many beneficial vitamins and nutrients:

  • Potassium – an electrolyte essential for muscular contraction and recovery from activity
  • Vitamin C – one cup of pumpkin contains at least 11mg of vitamin C. Vitamin C is vital for its antioxidant and immune system supporting effects
  • Beta-Carotene – beneficial for preventing cancer. The bright orange colour is an indication of how rich it is in beta-carotene
  • Alpha-Carotene
  • Fibre
  • Zinc – will help improve skin and coat
  • Iron
  • Vitamin A – which is important for your dog’s vision

One of the most common uses of pumpkin is for dogs suffering from diarrhoea. The natural fibre content of the pumpkin helps to slow down digestion by adding bulk to the dog’s stool. Experts recommend adding pumpkin to your dog’s normal dog food and this has widely been reported to act quickly to settle their stomach. We used to keep small bags of frozen pumpkin in our freezer for just that purpose.

Interestingly enough, while pumpkin is a great remedy for diarrhoea, it is equally effective at easing constipation. Naturally increasing the amount of soluble fibre in your dog’s diet will also help move things along in a comfortable way. Pumpkin is gentle, unlike some conventional drugs designed to relieve constipation. Once again, pumpkin can be added to your dog’s normal food in small quantities whilst ensuring that they have plenty of fresh water. Dehydration can have a direct link to constipation and will certainly make a pre-existing condition even worse.

Since we are in pumpkin season, it’s also an excellent opportunity to make some pumpkin treats for your dog, so we have a couple of recipes for you that are as easy as pie! These make great Jackpot treats so you can incorporate them into your training.

Pumpkin and Peanut Butter Bones

Always check your ingredients for Xylitol before using.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

or Ingredients for grain-free

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup organic peanut butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil melted then slightly cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut flour

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Stir until a stiff dough forms.
  4. Roll out dough to approx 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick.
  5. Use a cookie cutter to cut out dog bone shapes, or just bake into little circles like cookies.
  6. Bake for 13-15 minutes. Treats should have a slightly golden colour around the edges.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.
  8. Can be stored in airtight containers for up to three weeks.

Carob Icing For Pumpkin Bones

Pumpkin and Carob Dog Biscuits

Unlike chocolate, carob is safe for dogs. You can buy it in various forms such as bars, chips or powder and it will turn your treats into something a bit special. Melting carob can be a little tricky – it doesn’t melt as easily as chocolate. The easiest way to melt carob chips is with a little coconut oil in a double boiler on the cooker.

  1. Fill a saucepan a 1/3 full with water and bring to a boil.
  2. Once the water reaches a rolling boil, turn it down to a simmer.
  3. Place a heatproof bowl on top of a saucepan. It should fit tightly on top of the saucepan and shouldn’t touch the water. Make sure no steam gets into the bowl or it will ruin your melt.
  4. Put 1/2 cup carob chips and 1 tablespoon coconut oil into the bowl. After a couple of minutes start to stir them around. Continue stirring until mixture reaches a smooth consistency and has no more lumps.
  5. Dip biscuits into the melted carob immediately.

Make the carob icing when you’re ready to use it because you can’t successfully melt carob a second time. Store iced treats in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer!

Remember, once Halloween is over, pumpkins will be cheaper than ever. Why not buy a batch, chop, roast, puree and freeze for use throughout the year or alternatively check out these other super pumpkin recipes.

Cats can benefit from pumpkin too

Is Pumpkin good for Cats?

One of the key nutritional qualities of pumpkin is that it is rich in fibre (the material from plants that cannot be broken down by enzymes in the body).  Fibre can beneficial to cats in the following ways:

  • Weight control, fibre promotes a feeling of fullness, even if fewer calories are being taken in.
  • Treatment of diarrhoea. Pumpkin contains soluble fibre, and this can absorb excess water in the digestive tract, reducing or relieving diarrhoea.
  • Constipation. Conversely, a pumpkin’s high fibre content can act as a laxative. The combination of fibre and moisture can be of great benefit in creating bulk that stimulates bowel movements.
  • Hairballs in cats can be relieved by pumpkin through the same mechanism as it relieves constipation.

Fresh roasted pumpkin seeds, without any salts or spices, can be fed to cats. They have been rumoured to help with worm infestations. Although we don’t see as much of it in the UK, you can buy canned pumpkin without additives, spices or sugar which is also perfect for your feline friend. And lastly, you can feed fresh pumpkin that has been baked until soft.

It is advisable to start with very small amounts of pumpkin if you are planning to add it to your cat’s diet and, of course, for expert advice, speak to your vet first, especially if your cat is unwell.

If this has piqued your interest in the humble pumpkin as a superfood, then you can read more about the subject in Did you Know your Pet can Eat Pumpkin?

Training Treats. Which ones deserve a Click?

Training Treats for Dogs and Cats

Left to right, Rattle and Reward Treats for Dogs, Trixie Trainer Snack Poultry Balls, Trixie Trainer Snack Lamb Balls, Pet Munchies Stix, Pet Munchies Training Treats, JR Pure Training Treats, Pet Munchies Natural Cat Treats, Homemade liver and garlic treats, Rattle and Reward Natural Treats for Cats, Davies Puffed Jerky

What not to use

There are a wide variety of ‘training’ treats available on the market and whilst many of them are no doubt tasty and tempting for your dog, not all really deserve that name. We take a look at some of the best-known dog treats and give our honest opinion of them from a training perspective.

Unsuitable training treats

A few years ago, when we ran our own training classes, one of the biggest problems we encountered was owners bringing inappropriate treats to the class. When training a dog, whether it be clicker training or not, a treat must be large enough to be seen, but small enough to be consumed quickly so that you can reward and carry on. Munching on a biscuit for a few minutes is not the best way to achieve results, and large quantities of unsuitable treats can result in weight gain.

But not only must a treat be small, it must also be palatable, tempting and motivate your dog.

From our own experience, we found the very best treats which worked on 99% of our client’s dogs were our homemade liver and garlic treats. We would buy a whole cows liver, cut it into tiny pieces, around the size of a fingernail, sprinkle it with garlic and then nuke it in a microwave until it was dried but not crunchy; you could still squash it between finger and thumb. Where that failed, tuna cake would be the answer.

For those not wishing to go to such lengths, we have tested many of the commercially available treats and with the willing help of our own dogs have come up with the best ones for the job.

Our testing results

Rattle and Reward Natural Training Treats

Rattle and Reward. Actual size of treats compared with a 5p coin

Rattle and Reward Treats for Dogs are now available in both poultry and fish flavours, but whichever flavour you choose, your dog is sure to love them. They are natural, grain-free and come in a variety of sizes. The small bone or fish shapes are actually not a bad size for training. However, the one drawback with them is they are crunchy, so they take a few moments longer to eat.

Handling:  Slightly greasy, hard treats
Ease of Use:  Easy to get a grip on and dispense
Palatability:  Our dogs love both flavours
Motivation:  The dogs are very happy to work for them
Training Treat (TT) Rating 6/10

Pet Munchies 100% Natural Dog Training Treats

Pet Munchies Training Treats. Actual size of treat compared with a 5p coin.

Pet Munchies Training Treats are available in five different flavours, Liver and Chicken, Chicken, Duck, Venison and Sushi. These 100% natural dog treats are low fat. They proved popular with our dogs who were eager to eat them. The pieces are just a tiny bit too big to be ideal, and the Sushi treats are slightly larger than the others, but they are soft and easily consumed.

Handling:  Soft and pliable, flat treats, apart from the Sushi which cube-shaped
Ease of Use:  Not that easy to get a grip on a single treat
Palatability:  The Sushi ones were very popular
Motivation:  The dogs were keen to work for them
TT Rating 7/10

Pet Munchies 100% Natural Chicken Stix

Pet Munchies Chicken Stix

The second offering from Pet Munchies isn’t strictly a training treat, but we have to confess that we used them throughoutToby’s training classes. Pet Munchies Gourmet Stix Dog Treats are 100% natural and tasty too, judging by how keen Toby was. They don’t fit the profile of the perfect training treat, but they are soft and chewy, and we cut them up into very small pieces before every training session. So they do require some work, but if you get the size right, they make an excellent reward worth working for.

Handling:  Soft, pliable treats that tended to dry out if left for a few days after cutting
Ease of Use:  They had to be cut to the right size (this takes some experimentation) before each training session
Palatability:  The Chicken Stix are loved by all our dogs
Motivation:  Toby went through all his training classes using these treats
TT Rating 4/10

JR Pure Training Treats

JR Pure Training Treats. Actual size compared with a 5p coin.

These treats are too big straight from the packet

JR Pure Meat Training Treats for Dogs are 100% meat, a single source protein and grain-free. Great if your dog has allergies as you know exactly what they’re getting. They come in a huge variety of flavours so there should be something for everybody. These treats are a nice consistency, but they are too big for training treats. Cutting them in half, produces a treat around the right size.

Handling:  Firm, dry but pliable and easy to grip
Ease of Use:  Each one would need to be cut in half to be a good size for a training treat
Palatability:  They don’t have a strong odour and we found the dogs inspected them thoroughly the first time they were offered
Motivation:  Once they had the first taste, they were keen for more
TT Rating 6/10

Trixie Trainer Snack Balls in Poultry or Lamb

Trixie Trainer Snack Poultry Balls. Actual size compared with a 5p coin.

The Trixie Trainer Snack Balls in poultry and lamb flavours are gluten-free, with 80% meat content and no added sugar. They are soft rather than crunchy and are the perfect size for a training treat, so can be consumed in a flash. Probably the best size of training treat we have ever come across. Available in 500g tubs.

Handling:  Very small soft treats
Ease of Use:  Because of the round shape, easy to get a grip on and dispense
Palatability:  We’re not sure if the dogs actually got a taste before swallowing
Motivation:  The size of the treat left them eager for more
TT Rating 8.5/10

Home baked liver and garlic treats

Homemade liver treats

There are dozens of different recipes for liver treats and liver cake, and if you have the time and want to create your own dog treats, this is the way forward. Liver cake can be crumbly and difficult to cut into small enough pieces but chopped liver can either be baked in a low oven until it dries out, or in a microwave if you don’t have much time, or better still, use a dehydrator. All the goodness of the liver is retained, and your dogs will love them. A sprinkling of garlic before cooking will make them pungent and irresistible.

Handling: Can be messy and smelly
Ease of Use:  There is effort involved in making them and they need to be refrigerated
Palatability:  99% of dogs love them
Motivation:  Dogs will work hard to earn these treats
TT Rating 9.5/10

Jackpot Joy

Davies Puffed Jerky

Puffed Jerky

One other thing to consider, especially with clicker training is the ‘jackpot’ treat. The one where the dog does so well that a tiny treat is just not enough. This can be larger and can take longer to consume, just to ensure that they know they’ve done really well. We use Davies Puffed Jerky Dog Treat, which is basically dried lungs. This is quite simply the best ever jackpot treat we have come across and our dogs will jump through hoops for it, literally! It is best saved for special moments or to reinforce an outstanding behaviour.

Handling:  Slightly greasy
Ease of Use:  Easy to snap into bite-sized chunks
Palatability:  The dogs adore it
Motivation:  Will encourage and reward the dog in equal measures
TT Rating 10/10

All of these dog treats have been tested on our dogs with differing results. Some were more popular than others, but one thing we did notice was that if one liked them, the others generally did too. It is essential when training to find something that your own dog likes and will motivate them. This may take some experimentation with different treats until you find the one(s)! And if your dog is prone to food allergies do ensure that you check the ingredients carefully. Just because something is called a ‘lamb’ treat doesn’t mean that it is exclusively lamb!

And remember if you are training, do adjust their main meal(s) accordingly to take into account the number of treats you are feeding.

Training your Kitten or Cat

Teach your cat tricks with tasty treats

Train your kitten or cat before mealtimes, as a food reward won’t be so enticing on a full stomach

And don’t just treat your dogs; cats can be trained and treated too. Although training is more traditionally associated with dogs, you can also teach your cat a few tricks and reward them with cat treats! Your feline can learn to recognise their name and come to you when you call them. To help your pet pick up these skills, it’s important to train your kitten from an early age and as soon as possible, but just like dogs, you can teach an old cat new tricks, especially with the right motivation!

Pet Munchies Gourmet Cat Treats

Pet Munchies 100% Natural Cat Treats

These Pet Munchies 100% Natural Cat Treats were a great hit with a cat-owning pal, particularly the Gourment Fish Fillet which proved to be the paws-down winner! The small, bitesize pieces are highly tasty and ideal as a training snack or just for pleasure.

Natural Treats for Cats

Rattle and Reward Natural Treats for Cats

How many times have you been calling your cat at the back door? With Rattle & Reward Natural Treats for Cats, there’s a healthy way of calling them home. Perfect for training them to behave that little bit better or just a delicious healthy treat for any time of the day (or night)! Available in 30g, 270g tins or refill pouches.