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Friday, June 14, 2019

Variety is the Spice of Life: Dog Treats are No Exception!

I hold this truth to be self-evident: not all treats are created equal!

Confession time: I've been getting some pretty mediocre off-leash recalls from my dogs the past couple of weeks. Yeah, they'll (usually) come when I call. At a saunter. Sniffing a few things on the way. If there's nothing else catching their eye. You catch my drift...

But how is this so? As an experienced dog handler and trainer, I know that high value treats are important in high distraction environments like outdoor adventure spots. But these were no linty Milk Bones in a forgotten pocket. No, I was rewarding them every time they came to me with at least one - if not more - of these beauties: Turkey Flavored Freeze-Dried Vital Essentials Mini Nibs! I have a one pound bag. It cost over $30. And they were loving them...

Dehydrated goodness in a perfect size for training.
...but let's face it: the bag has been parked in my car since purchasing it a couple of weeks ago. And although carefully sealed, its contents have lost some of their appeal via lack of freshness and too much of the same old, same old.

Enter Red Barn Chicken Recipe Premium Dog Food Roll and Tucker's Chicken & Pumpkin Carnibar, freshly purchased and reporting for duty!

Before....


Vital Essentials already come in the perfect size for reward-based treat training, but it only took a few minutes on the cutting board to transfer the above raw materials into manageable little bites. 

...& After.
 When my dogs realized I had a novel treat in tow (especially the Carnibar), recalls became an entirely different story. They were turning on a dime, kicking up dirt and barreling toward me in a blaze of glory at the mere mention of anything resembling the words "come"  or "here" or "hey you."

"Yes I know my shadow is fascinating, but the sun's in my eyes and I've come to collect payment for (recall) services (W)rendered. And no, I won't pardon the pun." ~Wren
The take away? Even high value goodies get old at times and it's important to change it up frequently.

 Pro Tips:
  • Chop your soft treats into smaller pieces before your training session our leisure outing. You'll get more treats for less money and you won't be as tempted to overfeed your dog. 
  • Tip your hand (again with the puns!) by giving your dog a good smell of the treats you're carrying before you let them off leash. That way, they know what's at stake ahead of time. 
  • Even though your dog(s) may be capable of recalls in difficult environments, it doesn't hurt to go back and practice in no to low distraction places on the regular...which I plan to do!

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