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The Scoop on Training Treats

A common question we receive is; does Zen Belly make treats for training?

Since we have no formal skill in training dogs, we never really felt comfortable in recommending anything specific. This was frustrating so we decided to do something about it…get answers!

Like anything these days you can search for an answer and find a pretty good argument for complete opposite solutions. Again, very frustrating! However if you are willing to put the time in and speak to several professionals and seek out your own information, you can arrive at a reasonable answer that works for you.

What we found in our research was using food as positive reinforcement in training varies with each animal. Just like people, dogs have preferences as well. While one dog may be over the moon about a specific treat another dog may show little to no interest in.

So it really does take a little experimenting to find the right fit for you and your pet. We suggest you  do the trial and error at home before you get to the training class to find the new fabulous treat you just bought is not a hit.

It is suggested for best results you should work with a variety of treats that can be put into 3 grades from lowest to highest value (like to most liked). The high grade treat can be the one your dog loves. The treat that your dog goes bonkers when you take it out!  You can then use kibble as the lower grade treat. Your dog will quickly learn that each treat has a different task value.

The only issue that might come in to play using the high valued treat to get your dog to complete a more complex task is the idea that  your dog will become too hyped about the treat to stay focused on the task at hand so in some case a lesser valued treat will work much better.

The option here could be to keep a tub in the fridge full of a variety of rewards from cubed bits of raw or cooked steak, cheese, sliced hot dogs, kibble and any of your dog’s favorite biscuits broken into pieces this way it’s a more random pick and your dog will wonder what’s next.

A variety of textures is also suggested. You might like to have both soft and crunchy treats. The softer treats play an important role during the training because the dog can consume the treat quickly and not take too much time away from the trainer or the task.

Most “training treats” are tiny bits which makes you the consumer think they have to be. Not true! Although the work has been done for you and that’s nice, it’s not mandatory. There’s no reason you can’t take any treat your dog loves and use it for training. Simply just break them in pieces or if they are softer , slice them in half or into quarters, taking into consideration the size of the dog.

You don’t want to reward ANY size dog with a huge biscuit after every task because you do need to maintain a healthy weight and you want to insure a well- balanced diet. We prefer an all- natural diet and in today’s market it’s not hard to find several options of credible brands to choose from.

More and more people are becoming aware of what’s in their pet’s   food and take the time to check the labels to insure the ingredients are what they think they should be. A larger selection of natural treats are also available, just keep in mind with all natural products they have a shorter shelf life because they are free from chemicals and artificial preservatives. The health benefits however are well worth it! (See our April 12 blog for helpful tips on finding the right food for your pet)

Our cookies and confections are made simply for the enjoyment of your dog! We have no specific “training treat” however there is no reason you couldn’t use them for that purpose. Any of our minis would work very easily but our larger cookies can do the job just as well. All that really matters is that your dog loves them                                       (* For information and advice on training seek out a professional)

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