Dog Treat Review: Primal Buffalo Liver Chunks

17
oct

Dog Treat Review: Primal Buffalo Liver Chunks

Primal Buffalo Liver Chunks ReviewThis month’s dog treat review (courtesy of Chewy.com) is of Primal Buffalo Liver Chunks. These are dry roasted buffalo liver treats for dogs. They come in a 5oz resealable bag, which is a great size if your dog has never tried this type of treat before! Primal is a great company, and I have been buying their raw dog food and other treats for awhile. (The chicken nibs are the perfect size for training treats!) All of the meat used in their products is sourced from the USA and New Zealand. The buffalo in these treats is American. On to the facts. These treats are crispy, hard, and very slightly oily. The odor is minimal. I could use my hands to break up these treats, but occasionally the pieces were sharp, so you’re better off using a knife to get uniform pieces. The boys gave these treats two paws up! Finch particularly enjoyed them, since he prefers treats with a bit of a crunch. Chewy.com Logo The product reviewed in this blog post was provided by Chewy.com.

21
feb

Dog Treat Review: Canidae Lamb-Licious TidNips

Canidae TidNips Lamb-Licious Lamb & Rice Dog Treats

Canidae TidNips Lamb-Licious Lamb & Rice Dog Treats

This month, my friends at Chewy.com sent us a bag of Canidae TidNips treats to test out. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Canidae had expanded into the “soft treat” market. Last I heard, they were only making kibble and biscuits. When the treats arrived, we quickly started testing them! First, the hard data. TidNips are a soft jerky treat that come in approximately 1″ flat squares, reminiscent of Wellness’ WellBites treats. They come in a 6oz resealable bag. These treats are made in the USA and have a 100% satisfaction guarantee, too! After last month’s stinky review, I was pleased to find that these treats have minimal odor. It was also very easy for me to use my fingers to rip the treats into tiny pieces for training. The boys gave these treats two paws up! All three of them eagerly took the TidNips bits from me and they maintained their interest through a short training session. I doubt they are high-enough value to keep Spark or Finch’s focus in a distracting environment, like on a walk or on an outing to the pet store, but they are a great treat for learning new tricks inside. (Strata says he’ll happily eat them anywhere, any time!) Tessie was asleep while I was handing out these treats, and you know what they say about sleeping dogs. She’ll be 15 years old (!) at the end of next month so that’s how she spends the majority of her time these days. At this point, I don’t think she’ll be participating in too many product reviews – she’s earned her retirement!

My Opinion

These are good treats, and I’ll definitely finish the bag. I don’t think there’s anything overwhelmingly special about them and while my dogs enjoyed eating them, they weren’t following me around praying I’d drop a few crumbs, either. They’re a pretty run-of-the-mill training treat. I appreciate that they have only one protein source (lamb) which was one of my complaints with WellBars when they first came out. If you’ve got a dog on a limited diet, these may be a good choice for you, but do note that they aren’t grain-free. Chewy.com Logo The product reviewed in this blog post was provided by Chewy.com.

09
jan

Dog Treat Review: Evanger’s 100% Whole Meat Treats – Wild Salmon

Evanger's Wild Salmon Freeze-Dried Dog & Cat Treats

Evanger’s Wild Salmon Freeze-Dried Dog & Cat Treats – as advertised

This month’s dog treat review, courtesy of Chewy.com, is very fishy! They sent me the “Wild Salmon” variety of Evanger’s 100% Whole Meat Treats. These treats are nothing but dehydrated salmon with no flavoring or other “stuff” added, are kosher, and are made in the USA. My dogs tend to be fish enthusiasts and these treats were not an exception to the rule. In fact, even Tessie, who is usually snoozing away while I’m giving snacks to the younger dogs, got off the couch and came over for one. She will often give up on crunchy treats, but she stayed right in front of me, hoping for more. (And of course she another one. She’s fourteen and a half, she can have whatever she wants!) These treats are very odoriferous, but weren’t too oily, so the smell did not linger on my fingers (nor on my dog’s breath) which was a pleasant surprise. They were somewhat easy to break up with my fingers, though occasionally I stumbled upon a slightly thicker-than-usual piece that I needed to use a knife on. They are crunchy treats, but the back of the package suggested letting them soak in warm water for 3-5 minutes for a “savory snack.” I decided to give that a try, too, and my dogs seemed to prefer the treats after they had been soaked. Unfortunately soaking them made the odor linger on my skin after feeding them to the dogs, but that’s sort of an occupational hazard when you’re a dog trainer.
Evanger's 100% Whole Meat Treats - Wild Salmon

These treats, while tasty, look nothing like the promotional picture.

I have a couple of problems with this product, though. Everywhere on both Chewy.com and Evanger’s website, these are described as “freeze dried” treats and appear as large, orangey-red strips that almost resemble jerky. The product I received, as you can see in the picture to the right, doesn’t resemble that at all. Additionally, my package reads “Gently Dried” not “Freeze Dried.” Freeze drying is a process that results in a pretty distinct spongey texture and these treats don’t seem to be freeze dried. So which is it? And which will you receive when you order this product? I have no idea. So although my dogs enjoyed this product, it’s not something that I would purchase for them. I’m a little bothered by the fact that these treats aren’t “as advertised” – I don’t think they’re freeze-dried, and I can honestly say that if I had ordered them based on the promotional picture, I would have contacted customer service for a refund. For the price of this product (currently over $6 on Chewy.com) I don’t think I’m getting much “bang for my buck,” either. Chewy.com Logo The product reviewed in this blog post was provided by Chewy.com.

29
nov

Dog Treat Review: Halo Liv-a-Littles 100% Beef Freeze-Dried Treats

Halo Liv-a-Littles Grain-Free 100% Beef Dog Treats

Halo Liv-a-Littles Grain-Free 100% Beef Dog Treats

The kind folks at Chewy.com sent us more treats to review! This time around, they gave us a package of Halo Liv-a-Littles Grain-Free 100% Beef Freeze-Dried treats. Since the Springers are allergic to beef, it was up to Strata and Spark to do the testing this time around. They were happy to oblige. These treats were exactly what I was expecting: “standard operating procedure” freeze-dried dog treats. The size of the pieces vary from 1/4″ to 1″ and the larger pieces are easily broken by twisting them gently or slicing them with a knife. Most of these pieces were too large to be used as training treats and needed to be broken up into smaller pieces. They are slightly crumbly and ever-so-slightly greasy. Most store-bought dog treats are kind of oily; freeze-dried treats usually aren’t, but these did leave a bit of residue on my hands. Both Strata and Spark enjoyed the treats. Strata will eat anything, but Spark is a little finicky when it comes to freeze-dried treats and will often spit out other brands, so I was pleasantly surprised that he would eat these. My only “beef” with these treats (come on, I’m entitled to one bad pun per blog post, right?!) is the packaging. They come in a nice hard plastic container with a screw-on lid. The problem is the safety seal on the lid. It was very difficult to get the safety seal option and it took me, Dan, and a small pointy knife to get the hard plastic safety seal to come undone. Compared to most dog treat packaging, that was a hassle. The good news is that the lid is very secure and the container is reusable. I’ll definitely use it for holding other treats in the future. These treats come in one container size, a 2.75oz jar, which is what we received from Chewy.com. The dogs and I thought these treats were good, but nothing special, and I probably will not purchase them in the future. There are a lot of freeze-dried treat options on the market, and I’m not inclined to fight with the safety seal on the jar again.

Chewy.com Logo

The product reviewed in this blog post was provided by Chewy.com.

08
jul

Dog Treat Review: Natural Balance L.I.T. Limited Ingredient Treats Jerky Bark

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Treats L.I.T. Jerky Bark - Fish and Sweet Potato Formula

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Treats L.I.T. Jerky Bark – Fish and Sweet Potato Formula

Chewy.com graciously sent me another package of treats to review! This time, the dogs and I got to try Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Treats (L.I.T.) Jerky Bark, in the fish and sweet potato formula. (Phew, that’s a mouthful!) I was told these treats had a “granola bar” texture, which made me a little unsure about their suitability for dog training. When I think “granola bar”, I think “crumbs everywhere” or perhaps “hard as a rock”. I’m pleased to report that these treats are neither of those things! (They also look nothing like the treats in the promotional picture to the right…) When I opened the bag, I was pleased that they do not have much of a fishy odor. Sure, they smell a bit like fish if you stick your face in the bag, but that’s nothing compared to other fish treats that stink up the entire neighborhood as soon as you open the package. Each treat in the package is about 1 oz and resembles a Snickers bar in size and shape – a fat rectangle. I can easily break up the treats with both my hands and a knife (see below photo for results). It does make a few crumbs, but I’m impressed at how easy it was to get small pieces. This treat would make great bait for the conformation show ring. It reminds me of Natural Balance’s dog food rolls, but slightly less moist and with a healthier, shorter ingredient list.
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Treats L.I.T. Jerky Bark - Fish and Sweet Potato Formula

Top: An unbroken piece of jerky bark. Left: Small pieces cut with a knife. Right: Small pieces broken up by hand.

After breaking up a couple of bars, I used these treats in training sessions with Spark, Strata, and Finch. All three dogs thoroughly enjoyed them and stayed interested in them for the entire session. Finch can be a little finicky, especially with new treats, but he had no trouble working for these. Chewy.com provided a 6 oz resealable bag which contains six, 1 oz jerky bark pieces. A larger 12 oz bag is also available. I plan to purchase these treats in the future, since all three dogs enjoyed them. Fish is one of the few protein sources they can all eat, so it’s nice to have one go-to training treat that works for everybody! Dog tested, trainer approved!   Chewy.com Logo

The product reviewed in this blog post was provided by Chewy.com.

19
jun

Dog Treat Review: Orijen Brome Lake Duck Singles Freeze-Dried Dog Treats

Orijen Brome Lake Duck Singles Freeze-Dried Dog Treats

Orijen Brome Lake Duck Singles Freeze-Dried Dog Treats

A few months ago I was asked to review the dog food retailer Chewy.com. I get a lot of great feedback from product reviews, and my dogs certainly enjoy doing them! Recently Chewy contacted me to review Orijen’s new freeze-dried treat line and I was happy to oblige. Finch has been suffering from some really heinous ear infections lately. Bacteria, yeast, redness, itching – the whole nine yards. After his most recent infection I vowed to try an elimination diet to see if something he was eating was contributing to the problem. For the past four weeks, Finch has been eating nothing but ground duck and green beans. Finding duck treats with no other ingredients is difficult! So when I saw that Orijen had a nothin’-but-duck treat in their new freeze-dried treat line, I jumped at the chance to try that with Finch. When the treats arrived, I was immediately impressed by the texture. Most freeze-dried treats are, well, dry. When you try to break them into smaller pieces they crumble and make a huge mess. Not these. I was easily able to split the grape-sized treats into smaller chunks for Finch’s training session. Finch came with me to an outdoor agility trial last week, which is huge progress for the little guy, and I used these as my treats of choice. They kept his focus, and he is not particularly food-motivated outdoors. (He’d prefer to play fetch.) Chewy.com sent me the 3.5oz bag which contains about 80 treats. I was able to break each treat into thirds which gave me around 240 treats – not bad! They come in a resealable bag and the closure actually works, unlike many dog treat brands, so I did not come home to find my training gear bag full of crumbs. Finchy tested, trainer approved! Chewy.com Logo

The product reviewed in this blog post was provided by Chewy.com.

17
jun

Stop Free-Feeding: How to Feed Your Dog Regular Meals

Dog Kibble

Is there always a bowl of food on your kitchen floor? If so, you’re free-feeding. (Photo by JnL on Flickr.)

One of the first management recommendations I make to my clients is to stop “free-feeding” their dog. Free-feeding means leaving a bowl of dog food on the ground for hours at a time, if not all day long, rather than giving the dog regularly scheduled meals which need to be eaten immediately. Here are some of the problems with free-feeding:
  • Free-fed dogs are harder to housebreak. Scheduled input of food means scheduled output of poop. If you’ve got a new puppy and you’re free-feeding it, you’re making house training infinitely harder.
  • It limits your dog’s motivation to eat treats. When I have a new client who complains, “My dog isn’t food motivated!“, more often than not, they’re free-feeding the dog. I tell clients this is like having a bowl full of $1 bills on the table, free for the taking, then telling your child he needs to earn his $5 weekly allowance. Why would he work when he can just grab a fistful of dollars when he wants?
  • You don’t know if your dog’s appetite has decreased. This can be a tell-tale sign of illness. When I feed my dogs, they immediately wolf down their food. If I ever put down a bowl of food and one of my dogs didn’t eat, that would earn them an immediate trip to the veterinarian. Also, if your dog ever needs emergency surgery, the vet will want to know when your dog last ate. If you’re free-feeding, that answer could be 30 minutes ago or 3 hours ago – you have no way of knowing.
  • It attracts pests. Disgusting but true – we’ve found ants and mouse poop in and around the food bowls of dogs that are free-fed.
Additionally, almost every free-fed dog I have met is overweight. I will mention that rarely, an occasional dog has a medical reason to be free-fed. If that’s the case, follow your veterinarian’s advice when it comes to feeding your dog.

How to Make a Change

If you’re ready to stop free-feeding your dog, here’s how you do it.
  1. Decide how often you are going to feed your dog. For most dogs, twice a day is enough – once in the morning and once at night. Puppies and small-breed dogs may do better being fed three times per day.
  2. Decide how much you are going to feed your dog. Some owners actually don’t know how much food their dog eats in a given day – they just keep the bowl full, and if it gets low, they dump in some more kibble. Use the amount listed on the dog food bag as a guideline for how much to feed your dog. (In my experience, these amounts tend to over-estimate how much food your dog needs.)
  3. Pick up the food bowl and clean it thoroughly.
  4. At the next scheduled mealtime, measure out your dog’s food in the bowl and place it on the ground. Set a kitchen timer or your phone alarm to go off in 15 minutes and let your dog eat. She may not eat anything! Don’t worry about it.
  5. When that timer goes off, pick up the food bowl. If there’s anything left, measure it and subtract that from your first measurement so you know how much food your dog ate. Throw out whatever’s left.
  6. Do not give your dog any food until the next scheduled feeding. (An occasional training session or small snack is okay, but nothing more!)
  7. At your next scheduled mealtime, repeat steps 4 and 5.
  8. Within 48 hours your dog should be eating most if not all the food you give her, and will begin eating as soon as the bowl hits the ground.

Troubleshooting

  • “My dog isn’t finishing her meals!” If your dog consistently does not finish her meals, you are probably offering too much food. Reduce the amount of kibble accordingly.
  • “My dog eats everything in her bowl and still seems hungry!” Most dogs are always “hungry” – self-control is not their strong suit. If your dog is wolfing down her food and you are feeding the amount suggested on the dog food bag, do not give her more food yet – wait a week or so, see if she’s gaining or losing weight, and adjust accordingly.
  • “My dog isn’t interested in the food when I put it down, so I added a little water/broth/chicken/dog treats/cat food…” Stop! Your dog is training you. If she ignores her food, you’ll add something exciting to it, therefore she continues to ignore her food until there’s a nice snack in it. If you want to give your dog a special snack, use it as a training treat, or add it to the food bowl before you put it on the ground – not after she’s decided to ignore her regular kibble.

It’s That Simple

This process really is not that difficult. All you need to do is stick to your guns, put down dog food 2-3 times a day, and not add any “goodies” trying to entice your dog to eat. A healthy dog absolutely will not starve herself. If you are concerned about your dog’s health, contact your veterinarian before beginning this plan.

17
oct

Chewy.com Review

Most of my students know I am a big fan of online shopping. I’m always looking for high-quality pet products and I just can’t seem to find the selection I’m looking for at “big box” pet stores. I received an offer from Chewy.com – they offered me a $50 credit to test out their online store and review it here on my blog. Sounds good to me! Chewy.com LogoI had purchased from Chewy.com before – it was actually “MrChewy.com” back then; they recently shortened the name. I didn’t remember anything in particular about that shopping experience. I do a lot of price-comparison shopping so they must have had the lowest price on whatever I was looking for. This time around, I purchased a variety of treats and chews for my own dogs to test out. Chewy.com just deals in pet food, treats, and chews. They don’t sell toys or other supplies. They have a great selection of brands and I was able to quickly find what I was looking for if I knew what I wanted. The search feature at Chewy.com is solid, but I was baffled that I could not search or sort by ingredient or protein source, which many other websites offer. The reason this was such an annoyance is that none of my dogs can have beef. I buy a lot of buffalo treats and chews, in particular, I like buffalo bully sticks. Searching for the phrase “buffalo” brought up multiple pages of Blue Buffalo brand pet food and treats. Not what I was looking for! Considering they specialize in edible products, I think this is a feature they should implement ASAP. I was able to find lots of other goodies for my dogs, though. I purchased a small moose antler and a medium-sized elk antler, which I am going to review here soon. (All three dogs think deer antler is “okay”, but let me tell you, moose and elk are very different as far as they are concerned…) I also picked up some new treats for Finch to try, since he can be a bit finicky on walks. As I went along, I occasionally checked Chewy.com’s prices against Google Shopping and was pleased to discover that Chewy.com was almost always cheaper than their competitors. At checkout I got a nice surprise – all orders over $49 ship for free. They state this plain-as-day on the front page of their website, but I managed to skip right over it in my rush to start shopping! It’s a great perk. Many competitors don’t offer free shipping at all, or only on purchases $75+. I was also pleased with the turn-around time. I placed my order on a Monday holiday, it shipped out on Tuesday, and arrived at my house on Thursday. That’s quite speedy! Everything was packed well and arrived in one piece (not that dog treats are particularly fragile). All in all, I was quite pleased with Chewy.com’s selection, prices, and turnaround. I will certainly order from them in the future. I will probably order sooner if they sort out a search/sort-by-ingredient function!

07
feb

My Favorite Training Treats

Premier Lickety Stik

The Lickety Stik by Premier/Pet Safe is the latest addition to my list of favorite treats for dogs. (Photo Credit: Premier Pet Products)

To wrap up my series on training with treats, I thought I would share my personal arsenal of favorite training treats. Something on this list is sure to pique a dog’s interest! I have split these snacks into two categories: homemade/grocery store bought, and store bought.

Homemade/Grocery Store

Peanut butter! This one is no surprise if you’re a long-time blog reader. I outlined all my reasons for using peanut butter already. Turkey hot dogs. Specifically, I slice them into quarters length-wise, then chop into small bits. I spread them out on a paper towel, sprinkle them with garlic powder, and microwave them for approximately 90 seconds. These are Tessie’s absolute favorite treat. Buffalo steak. In a pinch, any steak will do, but buffalo steak is incredibly lean which makes it very healthy. I pan-fry it with a little bit of water until it is well-done, then slice into small pieces. If possible, I like to freeze it for a couple of days before using it to train. The pieces don’t seem to stick together as much if it has been frozen and thawed. Sardine treats. I shared the link to this recipe previously. Mine is based heavily on one that Susan Garrett shared on her blog a couple of years ago, but the addition of cinnamon in my recipe totally neutralizes that “fishy” scent you otherwise get and makes them smell great. The last time I baked them, Dan thought I was making dessert! Cheese. This is quick and easy. I particularly like cheddar-jack cheese sticks, as they are not oily the way mozzarella sticks can be. Shredded cheese is an excellent treat (in moderation) for tiny puppies. The nice thing about cheese is the variety of flavors, and if your dog has developed a love for cheese, you can shred it and melt it over any other training treat you would like to use for added power.

Pet Store

Canned dog food. Messy, but dogs are crazy for it, particularly if they do not get it on a regular basis at mealtime. You can pop the cap off and just dab a little on a finger or wooden spoon or transfer it to a plastic container and let the dog lick some out, but my personal preference is to put it in a refillable squeeze tube. Lickety Stiks. This is a relatively new training treat from Premier, and is a liquid treat in a roller-ball container sort of like a rabbit water bottle. It is very tasty and “lickable” while being very low in calories. It’s an excellent choice for dogs that need to learn new behaviors and lose weight at the same time.
Paws Gourmet Peanut Butter Molasses

Paws Gourmet treats are the perfect consistency for use while training. (Photo Credit: Paws Gourmet)

Paws Gourmet training treats. We absolutely love these itty-bitty soft training treats. They come in 4 flavors: White Cheddar, Peanut Butter Molasses, Kickin’ Chicken, and Liver Mesquite. Truly something for everyone — the cheese enthusiast, the sweet tooth, the meat lover, and the spice aficionado. The treats come pea-sized, but are the consistency of modeling clay, making them very easy to break into even smaller pieces. Up until recently, they even came in a 3-pound size container and our clients would buy these and freeze them, thawing out only what they needed. ZiwiPeak treats. These treats are ideal with dogs with food allergies, because they contain very few ingredients and stick to the protein sources advertised on the label. Flavors include Lamb, Beef, Venison, and Fish & Venison. The treats are jerky-like in consistency and are very easy to break into smaller pieces. Fruit Loops. Though absolutely not my first choice, since they are loaded with sugar and artificial colors, some dogs are just absolutely bonkers for sugary snacks. Our youngster Finch is one of them. We save them for really special occasions when we need something high-value and visible — they are easy for dogs to pick off the ground or find in their crates when we are tossing treats. So tell me: what’s on your list of favorite training treats? Do you like the products I have listed here, or is there one you think I should know about? Let me know in the comments!

19
dec

Myth Busting: Dogs That Aren’t Food Motivated

Strata Gets a Treat

We once thought Strata was "not treat motivated" when in reality, he needed to lose a bit of weight and be offered tastier treats!

When dog owners find out that clicker training requires using a lot of dog treats, some express concern and tell me their dogs are not food motivated. All dogs are food motivated! Dogs have to eat. If your dog wasn’t motivated by food in some capacity, she would be dead. This seems obvious, but many people don’t see the connection between “food” and “treats”! It is certainly true that some dogs are more food motivated than others. But your dog doesn’t need to be a perpetually hungry chow-hound for you to use treats in training. Here are my considerations when it seems that a dog doesn’t enjoy treats.

Does the dog need to lose weight?

Approximately 40% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. (Source.) It is common for dogs that are overweight to refuse treats because their nutritional needs have already been met and then some. I tell owners to talk with their veterinarians about reducing their dog’s weight. You can start by reducing your dog’s meals by 15-20% and removing fatty snacks like pig ears from her diet.

Does the dog like the treats that you offer her?

Often the owner is offering something that is mediocre from the dog’s perspective, like hard biscuits or kibble. In my last post, I covered the subject of what makes a great dog treat. The best treats for training are small, soft, and very tasty. This is in stark contrast to a big, hard, stale biscuit!

Is the dog stressed out or distracted?

Generally, dogs that are afraid or over-tired will not take treats in that state. If you are offering a treat that your dog usually enjoys and your dog is refusing to take it, consider what is different about the situation. A lot of dogs will happily eat kibble at home, but completely ignore it in a social situation (like at group training class) because they are too distracted by what is going on around them. In those situations, you need a treat that is more desirable to your dog. If your dog seems nervous or worried, and is showing other calming signals, get your dog to a place where she is more comfortable and relaxed before trying to give her treats.

Is the dog in pain?

This is often the case with older puppies that are in the process of losing their puppy teeth, or with older dogs with periodontal disease. Their mouths hurt, and chewing is painful. Offering a softer treat, like peanut butter or other “lickable” treat, is a good temporary solution. If you suspect your dog is experiencing oral pain, discuss it with your veterinarian.

How is the dog fed at home?

If your dog is being “free fed”, meaning kibble is available to her at all times, she is less likely to take treats. Leaving a bowl of kibble down 24/7 is a bad idea for a myriad of reasons, but my primary issue is that you never know when or if the dog is hungry. Hungry dogs are more motivated by food treats. I’m not advocating that you starve your dog for better training results, but switch to feeding your dog two or three times a day. It will also make the dog’s potty schedule more predictable and keep you abreast of any changes in your dog’s appetite. As a personal anecdote, I have yet to meet a free fed dog that couldn’t stand to lose a few pounds. They nearly always eat to excess.   I hope these points give you some “food for thought” about how to encourage your dog to be more motivated by treats. As a Christmas bonus, here’s a link to the high-value sardine dog treat recipe we recommend for finicky dogs!