Giving your dog treats is not only a great way of training him, it can also strengthen the bond between you. Just make sure you don’t overdo it!
Treaty timeGiving your dog a well-deserved treat can be as satisfying for you as it is for him. Treats help build the bond between you; the perfect way to show how much you care.
Treats can also play an important role in training. By rewarding dogs with a treat when they obey a command, they learn to associate good behavior with something nice – a process known as positive reinforcement. You’ll find that treats with a strong, tasty smell are especially effective.
Treats can also help your dog cope with being ‘home alone’. Instead of missing you, your dog will actually look forward to you leaving, if he knows he will be getting a special treat.
But tempting as it is to treat your dog with scraps and leftovers, remember that manufactured treats may be a healthier alternative. Carefully formulated to taste great and complement main meals without upsetting the nutritional balance, many even include nutritional ‘extras’, with benefits like improved dental or digestive health.
Dogs care more about the number of treats they get than the size of each treat: it’s more rewarding for a dog to receive several small treats than one big one (dogs don’t generally savor treats; both a tiny treat and a larger treat take only about a second to swallow!). Using small treats allows you to reward your dog without adding too many extra calories.
Remember, when you do treat, always reduce your dog’s main meal by an equivalent calorific amount and feed according to manufacturer’s directions. The feeding guides on the back of packs will help you calculate how many and how often to feed.
Don’t forgetFeeding too many – or the wrong type – treats can unbalance your dog’s diet and lead to weight problems.
Types of treats
- Rewards – Smaller, meat-based treats designed to provide positive reinforcement during training or to reward good behaviour. Limit these to 10 per cent of your dog’s daily calorie intake.
- Treats – There are a huge variety of fun, tasty treats available in a wide range of flavours. Low-fat options are best. You can feed regularly, but don’t exceed 15 per cent of your dog’s daily dietary requirement.
- Biscuits – (the doggy variety) Feed as a snack or as a mixer to add crunch to canned food. Biscuits help clean your dog’s teeth and can be fed as up to 15 per cent of your dog’s total diet.
- Chews – Available in a variety of sizes for different breeds, chews help strengthen the teeth, are often vitamin-fortified and help keep your dog occupied and your shoes intact!
- Health treats – Functional treats designed to promote healthy body systems, with additional benefits such as vitamins and minerals, or omega 6 fatty acids for the skin and coat.
Feeding scrapsWhile feeding table scraps and titbits is generally not advisable, it’s often difficult to say no! If you do decide to give in from time to time, be aware there are some foods you need to stay clear of.
- Avoid uncooked vegetables — for example, rhubarb and spinach can cause adverse reactions, while onions are toxic.
- Never feed raw meat, and reduce the risk of food poisoning by thoroughly cooking any fresh meat to kill bacteria. Watch out for small pieces of bone, especially brittle chicken and fish bones, as they can damage teeth and cause obstructions in the gut.
- Don’t feed chocolate to your dog. It is highly toxic to their systems: as little as 60g of baking chocolate can kill a medium-sized dog!
- Meat and table scraps should never account for more than 10 per cent of your dog’s total diet. If your ‘extras’ exceed this amount, you risk upsetting the value of a balanced pet food, as well as creating a fussy eater likely to put on weight.
- MADE IN THE USA are the SAFEST TREATS