Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Yummy Low Calorie Dog Treats

For dogs watching their figure, the possible effects of training based on the reward method can be a justified concern. Here are some ideas that you might find helpful:

1. The first thing to remember is that rewards don't always need to be food-based, and that treats can be (and should be!) rotated with other stuff dogs want: like time with a favorite toy, praise, hugs & kisses, and even waterplay (especially for labs.)

2. That having been said, while many treats CAN be junk-foody and caloric, I've encountered one low-calorie brand that most dogs reallyreally seem to LOVE. They're called Charlee Bear Treats and you can get them at PETCO, and other retailers (listed on their website.) These treats come in a few different flavors, and all look superboring, dry and bland... but pups and old-timers alike gobble them down with slobbery big giant doggy smiles. The first time I witnessed it, I was astonished... how could something so bland-looking get such an enthusiastic reaction? The eyes light up! Tails wag like crazy! Over time, almost every dog I've worked with has LOOOOOOOOVED these things... big dogs, small dogs, breeds of all sorts... it's a miracle treat! The miracle-within-the-miracle is that each treat is only three calories!! I usually break those suckers up into tiny pieces (into at least three bits per treat... thus making them a minimum of a mere one calorie each!)

3. Regardless of the treats you're using, it's a good idea to break treats up into smaller mini treat portions. You'll be using the same calorie base, but will be able to reward with more frequency!

4. You can also rotate normal treats with natural tasties like blueberries, or small slices of banana, cantaloupe, watermelon, apple, and carrot (just be sure to limit the amount so you don't wind up with yucky poops!)

5. Another option is to use your dog's normal dog food kibble as a reward. When measuring out your dog's normal meal serving (as determined by your vet, or by the instructions on the dog food bag), just set aside part of the portion in a little ziplock baggie. Use that amount for the day's training. This way you aren't adding any additional calories to your dog's daily intake, just redistributing them! This is also a great idea for dogs who are on a very strict diet for other reasons (sensitive stomachs, allergies, etc.)

6. As always, ask your vet for guidance. And if you have any creative, healthy, low-cal treat recommendations, please lemmie know!

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