Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dog Treats and Recipes

In Max's first Intro to Agility class, I met Joy, who had pockets full of the most delicious treats and gave them out to whichever dog was around her.  She was very popular. Still is. She gives out her recipes, too. They are all cheap, delicious, good for the dogs, and if you like them, they aren't bad for you either.  I share her recipes below.

You always hear trainers talk about "cookies, bisquits, kibble, pay your dog, jackpots, etc." But they never tell you what treats to use. So here's a list of the things I've used and seen other handlers use.  I'll keep adding to the list as time goes on:
  1. String cheese is what you see trainers stuffing in their mouths for ready access.  (Handy because the wrapper can stay on in your pocket, but very expensive.  I tried this, but ended up eating it all.)
  2. Block cheese, cut into strips or squares (also expensive, and needs to be in a plastic bag)
  3. Hot Dogs - I suppose the most popular, handiest training treat there is.  You can stuff a piece in your mouth without gagging, and bite off bits at a time as needed.
  4. Purina Kitten Chow, very tiny treats, very high protein, dry so can be put loose in a pocket, good for very small dogs (I use this with Max and Willow, and they go crazy for them.)
  5. Honey Nut Cheerios, tiny, tasty, decent nutrition, dry.  Good for small dogs.  Good visibility for throwing onto floors or short-nap carpets.  Big dogs like them, too, but sometimes "inhale" them from your hand and choke on them.  They do okay licking them up off the ground.
  6. Log Dog Food - buy a roll, cut into disks about 1/2" thick, cut disks into strips.  Freeze.  Buy 2 or 3 flavors, and mix them up in a large Zip Lock bag to freeze.  Take out what you'll need and throw it in your pocket.  Each little piece will thaw out in your hand within several seconds.  You can pinch smaller bits off of a strip.  It's dry enough to go straight into a pocket, soft enough to break off, and if you need it to be sticky, you can moisten it with a bit of spit, roll it in a ball, and stick it on the down contact. (I use Natural Balance, but there are other brands.)
  7. Bil-Jak.  This comes in bite size bits and freezes indefinitely, is soft enough to stick onto a surface, hard enough to hold together.  It's a bit messy for individual treats when thawed, but if you microwave a plate of it for 1 minute then cool, it becomes dry enough to handle.  You find it in the freezer section at Albertsons.
  8. Oyster Crackers.  They are small, dry and dogs love em.  For tiny dogs I crack them open with my teeth and give half a cracker.  I usually eat the other half!
  9. Dry Dog Food - Some trainers just feed their dogs their meal during training, one kibble at a time.
  10. Left-overs - if someone doesn't eat their pizza crust or leaves part of a sandwich or steak or an apple, or even a baked potato skin, cut it up and use as treats.  DON'T WASTE FOOD.  Dogs will eat practically anything!
  11. Toast - take a slice of multi-grain bread, toast it, cut into 1/4" squares.  For about 10 cents, you get a pocket full of treats!
  12. Store Bought Treats - There are dozens of these to choose from in fancy little bags, but I find them outrageously expensive, and some of them smell like chemicals.  I steer clear of these.  I'm always looking for inexpensive, nutritious treats. If I can spend .25 cents a day treating each of my 4 dogs, I'm within my treat budget (that's $30/month). I'm here to tell you, IT CAN BE DONE!
  13. Sticky Treats - Various trainers recommend "sticky treats", but never mention what they are.  I've experimented with various things.  Peanut butter on the end of a long wooden spoon is a great lure.  American cheese slices are wrapped and can go in your pocket. The cheese wads up into sticky little balls that can go at the bottom of a contact, but leave some residue.  Log Dog Food (see above), works if you mash and moisten it.
  14. Frozen raw chicken necks (small dogs) and turkey necks (large dogs).  Cleans their teeth, provides collagen for joint health, and can be a meal.  Can be divided into seperate vertebrae for individual treats. Frozen they chew them.  Thawed, they tend to swallow them whole.
  15. Raw veggies:  Dogs love apple, pear, zucchini, yellow squash, green beans, carrots, stems of mustard and other greens, broccoli stalks, hearts of cabbage and cauliflour, etc.  Cut into thin crunchy slices.  Stay away from grapes!
Michele and Jonathan making a 2 month supply
of Liver Brownies
Liver Brownies (so easy a child can do it):
this is a great recipe because it doesn't crumble.
1 lb liver (any kind), raw, pureed in a food processor.  Add
1 egg
Garlic powder (dogs love garlic)
1 packet Knorr Unflavored gelatin
1 cup liquid
Pinch of salt.
Puree, transfer to a bowl, then add
1.5 cups corn meal
1.5 cups flour
Mix into a soft paste. Let sit 10 minutes to soften gelatin and corn meal.
Pour/spread this mixture onto a greased baking pan (the kind with 1/2" sides, about 12" x 16"), and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
Use a pizza cutter to slice it into squares.
Use a spatula to loosen the pieces from the pan.
Store in Zip Lock Bags in freezer. 

Chicken or turkey Gizzard Treats:
1 lb of gizzards
1-2 toes of finely chopped garlic, minced garlic or garlic powder
Pinch of salt

Simmer the gizzards in water (barely to cover) until they are tender (about 30-45 minutes).  Drain (save water to mix in dog's meals). Chop up into treat size bits with kitchen sheers.  Lay flat and freeze, then place in zip lock bags.  To thaw, put a handful on a plate and microwave for 30 seconds.  This thaws and also hardens them up a bit for dryer handling.  My dogs prefer them soft and juicy, though. 

Here's a recipe I found at

Liver Treats
The nice thing about these treats is the consistency. I experimented with the recipe until I got something that was soft but not crumbly or gooey. The secret, I think, is the gelatin.

•2 lb. chicken livers, drained; put through the food processor until soupy (yuck!)
•3 eggs
•~1/4 cup salmon oil or similar supplemental oil
•2 pkg. unflavored gelatin
•24 oz. (3 cups) brown rice flour
•Optional – ¼ c Parmesan cheese
•Optional – 1 Tbsp garlic powder
•Optional – ~3 Tbsp. liquid glucosamine (not necessary – just a nice added ingredient)

Beat the liver, eggs, oil, glucosamine, and gelatin until thoroughly combined. Slowly add the rice flour (and garlic or parmesan). The mixture should look kind of like thick cake batter. Pour into two well-greased (or parchment paper-lined) 9X11 pans. The mixture will be about 1/2” – 3/4“ thick. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. It should have a spongy texture and bounce back if you press on it. Let it cool for a few minutes, then turn out onto a cutting board and cut into 1/4″ cubes with a pizza cutter. Let cool before packing into plastic bags.

Tuna Putty

1 12-oz can tuna (in water) do not drain
1 1/2 cups flour (any kind)
2 eggs
1 TBSP. garlic powder or minced garlic (optional)
1 TBSP. grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Process tuna, eggs and garlic in food processor or blender (or mix by hand in a bowl). Add flour and cheese and mix to a brownie-like consistency. Spread into an 8x8" or 9x9" greased pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. When the brownies are done, they will pull away from the sides of the pan.  Cut into squares, store in refrigerator in zip lock bag.  Can be frozen.

These treats have a putty-like texture, can be rolled into a ball, and can be pulled apart without crumbling.  They are dry enough to go in your pocket and don't leave residue on your fingers.


If you'd like to share your dog treat recipes, please send them to me at

1 comment:

just far away said...

Just tried the Tuna Putty and like it's great. Dogs like it, they can consume it quickly, and it doesn't leave them thirsty. Thank you!

I've been interested in having a larger ball of treats that I can pinch from, and need something that I can have in my pocket. No more treat bits left in pockets (and going through the laundry), no more treats to drop and spill across the floor.

I'll probably be tweaking it to make the dough smoother. It does leave residue on my hands that can distract the dogs.

Would love any other treat recipes that you come acros that yield the same kind of soft-putty consistency.