Treating Your Dog
By Honor Tarpenning, NextDayPets.com Staff
Everybody loves to treat their dog, and we all know dogs love treats. With all the options out there, how does one figure out the best way to treat his or her pooch?
If your dog has any health issues, including illnesses or obesity, talk to your vet about what treats would be best. Different treats are better-suited to different dogs and different health concerns.
Dog Treats are for Dogs
It is best to avoid people-food all together when it comes to giving your dog treats. There are many human foods that can make your dog very sick. The easiest way to avoid someone giving your pooch a dangerous food is to have a strict “no people food” rule. This is also a big help when it comes to maintaining your dog’s trim waistline. Lean more about Which Foods are Dangerous to Dogs.
Mind Meal Times
Don’t go heavy on the treats close to meal times. Letting your dog fill up on treats can spoil his appetite. This not only means that he misses out on important nutrients, but it also skips a chance to reiterate discipline and maintain routine.
It is great to take advantage of treat-giving by providing treats that are also beneficial to your dog. Dental treats, like Greenies, are fantastic because they clean your dog’s teeth and freshen his breath. Any biscuit-like, crunchy treats will help to scrape plaque from the teeth for better dental health and fresher breath too.
Fruits & Veggies
Fruits and veggies make great, healthy treats for your pooch. Try sweet potatoes, celery, broccoli, spinach, alfalfa, carrots, zucchini, apples, pears, oranges, and grapefruit.
Remember that treats count toward your dog’s daily calorie count. If you give your dog treats every day, you should subtract from the amount of food he gets each day as well. This is not to say Fido has to skip dinner if you give him a biscuit, but dog owners must remember that treats are a part of his daily food intake, so they should make it count with healthy treats and not too many.
Using treats is a great way to keep your dog interested in training-time. However, as mentioned above, these treats do count towards daily calorie totals. So, if you are conducting daily training sessions, consider dividing your dog’s food into small portions and using those portions in your training.
If your dog doesn’t get very excited about his usual kibble, training treats are the best option. Good training treats have a strong scent to entice your dog. They are also small and soft. Small soft treats are easy to eat quickly so your dog’s mind doesn’t have a chance to wander away from the task at hand while he’s busy chewing.
Make Them Earn It
It is always a good idea to make your dog work for his treats. This way, you can polish his training every time you give him a treat, and you can keep his discipline sharp too. Learn more about this philosophy in our article on Nothing in Life is Free (NILIF) Training.