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My “beef” with the big pet food manufacturers doesn’t stop at dog food, it also includes what they try to pass off as training treats.  Treats? treats? If you google treat you get the definition “An event or item that is out of the ordinary and gives great pleasure.”

What exactly about “Cereals, vegetable protein extracts, meat & animal derivatives (4% chicken), various sugars, milk & milk derivatives, oils & fats, minerals, derivatives of vegetable origin.” (sourced from ingredients listed on Pet at Home website for Bakers Mini Bones) is going to give a dog great pleasure Bakers?  And a massive 4% chicken, blimey you’ve really pushed the boat out!

Yet I can’t carry a pocketful of raw chicken around with me for training purposes so what do I do?  Well when I look for training treats for Ted I’m looking for meat only (no bones as cooked bones are the ones that are dangerous) and ideally meat that has been dehydrated rather than cooked.  There are some good treats out there but too often I have seen stalls at markets or website selling home treats which are, once again, full of grains, to be honest if it’s in biscuit form I’m not going to feed it.

Oh what a meanie you might be thinking, Ted is so deprived.  Well I suspect the dogs that I meet out on our walks that forcefully stick their noses into my treat bag, or do their absolute nicest sit and look at me expectantly, or circle me sniffing the air experimentally would tell you otherwise.  I have had owners unable to call their dogs away from me whilst shaking a their own biscuit laden treat bag and seen dogs unable to find a shop bought treat thrown onto the grass by their owner despite having their nose pretty much on top of it.

Whilst I might throw the occasional bit of sausage or cheese into my treat bag for Ted the majority of his treats are home made.  I’m going to share the recipes on here with you incase you want to give them a go.  Pretty much all my treats have a good strong smell and a good strong flavour (yes I’ve tried them!) so dogs will work for very tiny bits, no need for their waistline to suffer.

First up is Dried Ox Heart.  I can’t speak highly enough of using heart as part of Ted’s diet.  I mainly get him Ox Heart which our butcher gets in when we ask him, but you can get all sorts of heart obviously and you can buy it online if you can’t find them locally.  Here’s what one looks like, I’ve got to admit I was pretty shocked the first time the butcher showed me the one we’d ordered in!

Ox heart

The beauty of heart is not only can you make excellent treats but you can also feed it as part of the raw diet and it counts as muscle meat.  Not only that but it’s cheap, humans don’t really tend to eat heart much any more so this beast here cost about £7, and that’s in London so you can get it cheaper.

I split this heart in two, cut the fat off, (you don’t have to do this but it will make for greasy treats if you don’t), and then split half into Ted sized meals and freeze those portions.

I then make treats with the rest, (thank you to the raw meaty bones yahoo group where I picked up this recipe), cutting it to about an inch square and they seem to dry down to about a cm square. These still need cutting into training treats as Ted is so tiny but even for a larger dog I would be breaking bits off.  If you have a dehydrator you can use that but if not kitchen paper on a wire rack in a reasonably warm airy space works well. I find I need to change the paper frequently in the first day or two to stop it sticking then it tends to be ok. It seems to take around 4 to 5 days to completely dry out and then I freeze some and pop some in the fridge for the treat bag.  If you’ve dried them sufficiently they should be fine just in airtight containers and are easier to break up as you’re training.

And here’s some I made earlier … they cost about £3.50, I reckon if you’re thrifty you can do this cheaper.

Ox heart treats

And here’s what happens when you pull one of these out of your treat bag …

I have some more training treat recipes up my sleeve which I’ll be sharing in the future 🙂