Friday, November 04, 2005

Doggie Treats

Dog "sausage" cut into tidbits.
Something I was just thinking about the other day while I had a sharp instrument in my hand. One thing that I didn't really know how to manage before I started agility was dog treats for training. The basic-obedience instructor with whom we had started classes a few months before really got us going on using dog treats, but I went through a variety of experiments with trying to find something that provided lots of treats in small enough portions that the dogs wouldn't gorge themselves in a single training session, could be eaten quickly (rather than standing and chewing contemplatively while handler is waiting impatiently to be able to do the next move) and yet was inexpensive enough for my budget.

It wasn't until I started agility classes and the instructor asked us whether we used Rollover that I was introduced to the concept of doggie sausages. Rollover is just a brand name; there are 2 or 3 manufacturers of similar items, all packaged this same way. I buy the large, 4-pound size, slice it into about 1/4" slices and then dice those slices into roughly 1/4" cubes. The stuff is a bit crumbly, especially when it warms up to room or air temperature, but mostly it holds together.

Some people don't like it because it's too processed, too sweet, too unidentifiable, or whatever your favorite complaint is about commercial dog food. Other people cook up tons of chicken and use pieces of that. Or chop up ham. Or you can buy large containers of freeze-dried liver, which can also be diced into fairly small pieces and isn't quite so messy and probably easier on the digestive tract if dog is having issues, but is definitely more expensive.

There's also a huge variety of natural or otherwise proclaimed healthy treats that you can buy online or from local manufacturers and distributors.

There are a variety of ways of dispensing it. You can keep some in your pocket, which has the advantages that (a) you usually have your pocket with you, and (b) it's not so obvious to the dog that you have treats. With doggie sausages, the disadvantage is that you end up with crumbly dog food scraps in your pockets, and you'd better not leave those pockets lying around where dogs can get at them unsupervised, or you *won't* usually have your pocket with you. Some types of food--their regular kibbles, for example, or chicken or other meats--aren't as crumbly but actually are rather oily, so you don't want to put them in any kind of fabric that will be permanently damaged, and you don't want to put anything else in the pocket with them.

You can also buy a large variety of bait bags (for example, these high-quality ones that also seal nicely for storage) that clip onto your belt or pocket or whatever. Those are nice--keeps the stuff out of your clothing--but is definitely more obvious to the dog and you have to remember to clip it on--and they do occasionally fall off.

There are toys into which you can put food to encourage food-motivated dogs to start playing with you.

All of which are better than the plastic baggies that I used to wrestle with. There--now you're educated about doggie treats.

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