T is for Treats


As you’ve read, string cheese is the high-value training treat of choice around here, used to help Leo overcome his fear of bicycles and other fast-moving objects. With a reward-based counter-conditioning program, you’re supposed to use a treat that is special to that training, and it’s supposed to be extremely high value.

At first, I tried to stick to an ancestral diet by using cooked liver, which is odorific in preparation and leaves residue on the hands during training. For a variety of reasons, string cheese works best.

When we play nose work games in the garage, I’ve been using Zuke’s because they are very fragrant and easier to handle than cooked liver. They remind me of the Train-Me treats I described in Bark and Lunge:

These treats, about the size of a pencil eraser . . . tantalized me with their aroma. I gave up eating meat almost ten years earlier, but I loved sticking my nose in a freshly opened bag of bacon-flavored Train-Mes.

A general purpose treat around here, for example, to give the pups when they come back inside from the yard, is Merrick’s Texas Hold ‘Em dehydrated lamb lung. (Some of my dog-bloggy buddies recently were given some of Merrick’s BackCounty ancestral food to review. Hey, Merrick, put me on that list!) The dehydrated lung was recommended to us by an observer to a training class, who called it Doggie Crack.

Here you see the Mia and Leo tweaking out over it. (As I took these shots, I thought of all my dog-bloggy friends who do a really good job taking pics of their dogs for product reviews, and felt like inviting one of them over… or asking to go to their house, where I imagine the natural light is fantastic and the floors are perfectly clean.)

Something that was kind of fun for Easter, we did a little egg hunt with dollar-store plastic eggs and Zuke’s mini treats. Here’s a re-enactment.

For the A to Z Challenge, I’m using all positive language in my posts. Read the story of how positive training helped my reactive dog Isis in my book, Bark and Lunge!


Join me for the Thursday Barks and Bytes Blog Hop, hosted by 2 Brown Dawgs and Heart Like a Dog.

Heart Like a Dog

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Published by Kari Neumeyer

Writer, editor, dog mom, ovarian cancer survivor

13 thoughts on “T is for Treats

  1. We dehydrate lean meat in an air dryer (fat doesn’t dry well). Some of the supermarkets sell meat for animals that, for whatever reason, they can’t sell for human use (usually beef but sometimes horse). If we can’t get that, chicken breast does fine. Thinly sliced, then dehydrated, they are easy and dry to store and carry, and the dogs love them.

  2. Thank you for visiting my blog! I’m happy I got to know yours, I’ve somehow missed it until now.

    I plan on using the positive reinforcement strategy on my cats (I can’t believe they’re finally coming home today!!). I believe it’s easier to educate dogs than cats, but I’ll give it a try!

    A2Z challenge. http://www.whenthecatisaway.com Participant number 1248

    1. Treats are good (now I’m hungry, lol). We used Zuke’s for Beebs and she loved them, though they were a bit pricey. Do people need to worry about allergies if they use cheese a lot for training? Cheers and woof, woof.

  3. Those are all great treat choices. String cheese has no effect on our dogs (and is too high a fat food for Storm) so we stick to the types of treats you describe. I do know several people who use liver as treats at dog shows and they dry them in the microwave. We haven’t tried it so I am not sure how stinky it is to prepare. Thanks for joining the hop!

  4. Thanks for joining the blog hop. The dehydrated lung is what I use on our walks to lure S&D away from dogs/people/ etc…they are not used any other time.

    I have tried all manner of items and many of them have that doggie crack effect BUT like you said, they are not the easiest to use when on the fly (roast beef, beef heart and liver wurst.)

    I’ve heard cheese in a can works but I’ve never tried it because I try and stay away from cheese, but I bet it would be a lot easier on my fingers than anything else I could use. LOL

  5. Hi there!

    Great post. There are so many healthy treats you can give to your dog.

    We’d love it if you could check us out sometime!

  6. The easter egg idea is so cute! I might have to steal that.

    We used to use string cheese regularly as a treat, then I started to worry about the sodium content stated in the packaging, so now they only get it sporadically.

    We are still on search for an affordable high value treat that we can use consistently. I’m starting to lean towards dehydrating our own. Today I wrote about Tripe for our A to Z challenge (clearskiespup.wordpress.com, come check us out!), and I was thinking if I dehydrate that the dogs will definitely go crazy over it. It’ll be the ultimate high value treat. But it will also stink up our whole house… Not quite sure it’s worth it!

  7. Yes, liver is stinky to prepare and use. But I’ve gotten good results using liverwurst. I chop it up and freeze it in tiny bits. It’s cheaper per pound than lots of dog treats and Honey loves it.

  8. The girls love Zuke’s and string cheese, too! The pictures of your pups getting their lamb lung are so cute!!

    Also, no natural lighting here! We have one big window in the kitchen that gets the most light but I also have to add lamps. I also sweep before I do my photos and lay a blanket down! I hope that helps. 😀 Taking photos indoors is such a pain. 🙂

  9. My parent’s dog lovesssss string cheese. If you get the individually wrapped kind, he will come running from the other side of the house when he hears the sound of it being opened.

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