While some people consider dog treats to be an optional purchase, used primarily to show affection for their pets, most owners understand that dogs need healthy snacks every day, just as people do. While treats are wonderful for training and reward purposes, owners should choose healthy between meal snacks for their pets, providing important nutrients and vitamins rather than cheap dog treats found on store shelves, which are similar to candy or junk food.
Before becoming loyal to any one brand, owners should educate themselves regarding the types of dog treats available, their ingredients, and any added benefits they may provide. Bad pet nutrition affects important areas such as weight, energy levels, and could lead to skin and hair issues ranging from mild to serious.
Because your dog is an important member of the family, it should be a priority to keep your pet healthy and happy. Finding a reputable source for quality dog treats can make all the difference in your canine’s overall health.
Bad Dog Treats to Avoid
Choosing typical store bought dog treats, such as imitation bacon treats and other soft chewy snacks, are unhealthy for most pets as they are very high in calories. If your canine adores this type of dog treat, they should be given to your pet sparingly. These soft and chewy dog treats are also terrible for your pooch’s dental health, as they are very hard on the teeth. Sticky morsels can get caught between your dog’s teeth, which can lead to tooth decay, gingivitis, and other dental health issues. Keep good dental products available to help take care of your dog’s teeth.
A small number of dogs will experience an allergic reaction to this type of dog treats, so it is important to observe your pet for changes in skin and hair health. The sticky types of dog treats are also the ones most frequently used during the training phase, while your canine companion is still just a pup whose teeth are not yet fully developed.
Surprisingly, rawhide bones and similar dog chew treats are not beneficial to your pet’s health, as they offer no nutritional value. These types of treats are an excellent deterrent, preventing dogs from being destructive by offering an alternative object to chew and tear. Be sure to offer rawhide treats while you are nearby, as small pieces can pose a choking hazard.
While dogs enjoy rawhide bones or rawhide chews, owners should also be aware that these types of treats can lead to lost teeth and injured gums, if not properly supervised. Therefore, it is important to choose the treats that are appropriate for your dog’s size and age. Consider offering your pet healthy alternatives, such as organic treats or antlers for dogs, if your pet enjoys chewing on things.
Lastly, while it may seem harmless to share, you should avoid the temptation of feeding your beloved dog ‘people food’. Food prepared for human consumption can lead to obesity and other health problems in canines. This can also lead to bad behavior, as no owner wants to eat every meal with the dog staring at him with pleading eyes.
You should also avoid giving your dog ‘treats’ such as fat trimmings, uncooked pieces of meat and fresh bones, as this can cause swelling of the pancreas. This swelling can cause such symptoms in your canine as pain, depression, dehydration, and loss of appetite.
Giving cooked bones as a special treat is also extremely risky, as these can easily become a choking hazard upon splintering. While it seems like a delicious treat for your pet, a dog’s mouth can incur painful puncture wounds and lacerations from dog bone fragments, splinters and pieces.
Choosing Good Dog Treats
It is easy to recognize quality in pet food products, as healthy dog treats should contain high quality whole food ingredients, rather than by-products or food fractions. The dog treat label containing wheat is much healthier than the one containing wheat flour. Choose from only the freshest, purest, and minimally processed dog treats for the best nutritional values.
It is also important to buy products which are made in the country where you reside, as domestic dog treats typically contain the best quality ingredients. These ingredients will be fresher and healthier than those being shipped from across the globe.
You probably read labels for your food. Dog owners should do the same for their four legged companions. The ingredients list should be easily read and understood. If the type of meat used to manufacture the dog treats cannot be determined, it should never be fed to your dog.
Using Dog Treats Effectively
Sure, dogs love to eat but have you ever wondered why treats are so effective and always get a response from your pet? The primary reason for this is your dog’s amazing sense of smell, giving him the ability to smell a treat from more than twenty yards away. In addition, your canine probably recognizes the ingredients used in making those treats.
Have you ever heard an owner ask, “When should I give my dog treats?” The answer to this question is very simple: Give treats to your dog when he is calm and submissive to positively reinforce his current state of mind. If you give your dog treats when he is ‘bouncing off the walls’ with over-excitement, you are telling him that you approve of his behavior.
How to Give a Dog Treat
It is important to let your dog smell the treat in your closed hand. Next, hold it up and away from her and wait. Due to your dog’s amazing smelling capabilities, you do not have to hold your hand directly under his nose. Once your dog recognizes the scent of his treat, he may get excited or try to jump on you.
You must indicate your disapproval using body language and attitude when your dog gets over-excited. The tone of your voice can also let your dog know what is expected, as you use one-word commands such as sit, stay and wait. Step to one side and indicate you are waiting for the canine to cease this action. As you repeat this training, your dog will eventually learn to wait for the treat, lowering his bottom to the floor as he waits for your approval.
When your dog is fully calm and relaxed, reward him with the treat. Never give the treat to your pet until the dog has reached this stage of anticipation. If you are a patient owner, your attitude will eventually pay off, as you will have an equally patient, well-behaved dog.
The Right Time for Dog Treats
If you try to train your dog after a meal, using treats for positive reinforcement, he will not be as interested and willing to cooperate. The best time to reward your well-behaved dog with a treat is when he has mastered a particular skill. Between meal times, your dog will be more interested in earning his treat, and will work the hardest to please you.
Choose a treat that your dog will really like, saving the best for last. This helps by holding your dog’s interest during training sessions. It is important to realize that, just as people prefer to eat different things, dogs enjoy a bit of variety as well.
Rather than purchase one type or flavor, remember to change things up a bit by keeping several different brands on hand. Your dog will appreciate the different flavors, and will help to combat boredom and disinterest. Armed with an arsenal of healthy dog treats and snacks, you and your well-behaved dog will forge a bond that lasts a lifetime.