While I’d love to provide the super-fancy, mega-healthy homemade treats for my dog that Kolchak gets on a daily basis, it’s not always possible. For one, I’m really lazy. And two, I’d rather spend my extra time training and playing with Shiva, not fussing over something in the kitchen. Heck, I don’t even cook for myself!
Most of our sessions are pretty spontaneous. Often Shiva and I will practice our agility moves while my PH is making dinner. Or we will work out a new trick while I am waiting on my morning coffee. I don’t have time to put together something elaborate for her rewards. We need something quick, that I can grab on the fly, and that also has value for Shiva.
There are millions of great commercial products out there; unfortunately, the best ones tend to be a little pricey. I don’t mind paying more for quality but like many others, we are dog lovers on a budget. We go through a lot of treats in a day. Not only during our formal and informal training sessions but also on our twice-daily walks. I like to reward her as often as I can when I see her doing something well. It keeps that nasty reactivity monster at bay. Since we have yet to make our millions in Hollywood, we also need treat options that are inexpensive.
Lately, I’ve been running out of ideas. Shiva doesn’t seem to mind the same old standbys yet I do notice she has a lot more value for new. It doesn’t matter what it is: lettuce, a different flavour of biscuit, a handful of rice. If she hasn’t had it before, or at least for a long time, it is the most exciting thing in the world. Worth doing hand stands for, even. I attempted to do a google search for “cheap and easy training treats” and surprisingly I came up with zilch. Apparently no one has put together a list of simple and affordable dog treats.
How can this be? I guess this is why they say, if you want something done, you have to do it yourself!
Here is the list of the cheapie treats Shiva scarfs on a regular basis:
– Hotdogs: We buy these in gigantic quantities and store them in our freezer. Just heat them in the microwave for a few minutes, slice into wee bits, and get training! Leftovers store really well in the refrigerator in plastic baggies, which can also be re-used.
– Cheese sticks: I used to love these as a kid. Gag, right? As an adult I vowed never to purchase such an inferior cheese – until I got a dog. Now I buy them all the time! They aren’t as cheap as hotdogs but they make up for price by being super-easy. Half the time I just break them into pieces with my fingers.
– Cat treats: I may get a lot of death glares for this, but Shiva loves cat treats. She likes them even more than my cat does. I used to buy him all these great high-quality varieties but he turned up his nose in favour of kitty crack.* Why waste a good treat, right? The ingredients listed on the back appear harmless. In fact, many look better than what goes in popular dog treats. Oddly, they also tend to be cheaper.
– Canned tuna or salmon: Any canned meat will do. I’ve also used turkey and chicken. This stuff can be messy but I like mixing it in a plastic baggie with some kibble. It gives the kibble a stronger smell and thus a higher doggie value. My hands are covered in drool after a minute or so anyway. Dog training is totally gross business, don’t let anyone tell you different!
– Random chicken or turkey parts: The local meat market is genius. They often put together packages of random animal parts to sell to silly dog owners like me. These packages are huge and very cheap. They also freeze well and cook within minutes in a microwave. Again, they can be kind of disgusting but I’d rather handle chicken bits than stinky tripe.
Sadly, this is where my creativity dies. It’s not a very long list. Do you have any cheap and easy ideas to add?