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Ideas for Food Reinforcers for Training

Treats meat

The following is a list of foods that can be used as training treats. If your dog has dietary limitations, then use other ones he can tolerate. Using a variety is not only interesting, but provides a variety of nutrients as well as limits things like fat, sugars, salt.

I like to have about 5 or 6 of differing value to my dog that I use as a base so I don’t have to think too hard when preparing for training sessions, but I also like to add variety over time for gut health and adaptability and to keep my dog’s interest. 

Meat & Fish

  • Heart-beef, pork, poultry
  • Real meat -cooked cubed, canned, food processor-beef, pork, poultry, venison, bison
  • Meat loaf (no onions)
  • Sausages
  • Hot dogs
  • Sweet n sour pork, beef
  • Sardines
  • Liver-very rich use only sparingly can cause diarrhea
  • Kidney
  • Pate -ground up heart liver kidney
  • Omelette-plain, cubed
  • Hard fat cubes-beef pork venison
  • Sardines
  • Tripe
  • dried fish

Veggies & Fruits

  • Carrots- raw, cooked, whole and sliced or cubed
  • Asparagus chunks-cooked
  • Broccoli-raw, steam or boiled
  • Canned green beans (no salt)
  • Canned corn niblets (no salt)
  • Frozen peas (used occasionally, they will not contribute to taurine deficiency)
  • Slow cooked kidney beans-frozen, are the perfect size
  • Cucumber cubes
  • Pumpkin-fresh cubes, baked or canned (pure) no sugar added, dehydrated
  • Squashes-Zucchini, acorn, spaghetti etc
  • Sweet potato/yam- cubed mashed dehydrated
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Mashed turnip
  • Dried bananas
  • Apples- fresh cubed dried
  • Plums-dried, chopped
  • Berries -fresh or frozen blue, black, rasp, straw

Nuts/Seeds

  • Peanut butter-no Xylitol or birch sugar, unsalted
  • Coconut- butter, oil (virgin cold-pressed)
  • Sunflower seeds (Unsalted) shell less whole or mashed
  • Camelina oil (high in Omega 3 and Vit E)

Dairy

  • Yogurt-Do not discount all milk products. Fermented products like yogurt and cheese are well tolerated by even dogs that don’t generally do well with dairy.
    Get low fat if you are concerned about that.
  • Cheese- hard cubes, cream, string
  • Butter
  • Flavorings added to other food-beef, pork, chicken turkey, smoked, venison drippings or juice after cooking, Tex Mex, Old Bay etc (beware of salt)
  • Meat stock from slow cooking, pan cooking-add water after cooking
  • Jello treats-meat stock with gelatin
  • Grains/Flour
  • Kibble
  • Cooked Oatmeal
  • Whole Brown Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Tapioca (makes treats rubbery instead of crumbly)
  • Almond flour (crumbly treats)
  • Chickpea/garbanzo beans
  • Coconut shredded, flour
Recipes to combine ingredients. Easy to make microwave or baked treats in silicon trays.

Non-nutritious “treats”: use at your own discretion and only occasionally

  • Popcorn
  • Bread cubes
  • Cheese whiz
  • Spray cheese
  • Bacon (smoke flavor, fat, salt)
  • Pancake cubes
  • Bread cubes (fresh or dried)

You’ll notice there are no commercial treats on this list. Why? Because they are often very expensive. The cheaper ones have poor (and questionable) ingredients or ingredients that the handler is allergic to. Treats are often in too big chunks and you must still cut them to size. Many are hard and crumble, which encourages scavenging and slows the training process. Dry ones are need to be chewed more and often cause a dog to hack them up while training and dogs also need to drink frequently while eating them, which also slows training. You can put ingredients in them like specific supplements or fibre that your dog wouldn’t eat alone. If you find ones that are suitable for training and they save you time, then go for it! Great for occasional treats, traveling and to add variety.

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