Treats - Healthy - Tasty - Safe

Let me warn you first, I am a very picky person when it comes to treats for my dogs. I have had a very bad experience with one of my dogs that nearly cost him his life as well as cost me a huge chunk of money.

When I purchased my dog Domino, an American Cocker Spaniel, he was 10 weeks old and a super smart pup. The breeder had a box of pig's ears and told me that the pups had had them since they got teeth. I did not like the idea of my dog eating something that was easily identifiable as the ear of a pig, but I thought, okay, he has had these almost all of his life and he is accustomed to them.

Well, Domino was almost 2 years old and he started showing symptoms of illness. Numerous trips to the vet, changes in diet, many strong medications and no change. In fact, it was getting worse. He had a fever and could not keep any food down and what did go down came out like a Water Blaster Gun. He was just getting sicker and sicker and I felt so helpless!

I finally convinced the veterinarian to try more invasive exams and after a number of x-rays and ultrasound tests discovered that there was a small piece of pig's ear lodged in the folds of the small intestine!!!!!

OMG!!! It was my fault! I caused his illness! I felt so guilty that I had endangered his life.

His treatment was aggressive, steroids, anti-biotics, special diet etc. After three days there were signs of improvement.

He is very healthy now, and never ever will he get anything that resembles pig's ears, rawhides, bully sticks, hooves (smell like dirty feet when wet) or anything that he could swallow whole.

Please think before you give your dog any of these treats. They are not nutritionally required if your dog eats one of the balanced quality dog foods that are readily available.

Okay, so now I will get down off my soapbox and show you some great treats for dogs.

Ambrosia Treats

I find that the soft treats such as Ambrosia Treats, Zuke's Mini Naturals and any of the ones with natural, low fat ingredients, are the easiest to use for training. I am very cheap when it comes to treats. I squish them between my fingers and use only little bits for luring dogs into the behavior you are wanting. They only need a taste, you are not trying to feed your dog, nor do you want him to get a belly ache from too many treats. It is similar with chewing gum for humans, we just want the flavor of the gum, we don't want to eat it!

Save the harder treats for times when you want your dog to stay busy. Most of these treats will also help to clean his teeth and some even freshen his breath. BONUS!

My dogs especially like the DentaStix and Waggin' Trains Chicken Jerky strips. I also stick small Milkbones into their Kongs when I leave them at home. They only get this treat when they are in their crates, so this is very special for them.

Check the ingredients carefully before you buy. High fat or other questionable ingredients (meat by-products)? can upset your dog's tummy and even cause flatulence (a nice word for fart). We have all been victims of the silent, room clearing, toxic odors that our dogs subject us to, so any way to lessen the misery is a benefit to us all.

As always, a word of caution when giving your dog a solid treat, make sure you supervise him to avoid choking or swallowing large chunks that could be impassable.

Let's face it, we all like to give our dogs treats, so lets make sure they are both safe and nutritious. This is our way of giving love, but it needs to be in moderation.

Tools Techniques, Treats, and Toys - The 4 T's
Basic Obedience Training Lessons