Learn how to make crunchy homemade training treats for your dog, out of simple ingredients you already have in your kitchen.
How we use these homemade training treats for our dogs
We use these crunchy treats–tasty little bite-sized tidbits that I make myself–to train our dogs. Training happens at our house every day; every occasion possible; all the blessed time. Our dogs will never be perfectly trained. They are dogs, not angels. Obviously. The training process, however, is a constant affirmation to them that we care enough about their behavior to spend time and effort to teach them every day, and to reward them for their efforts at being sooo good (mostly).
It might just almost, kinda-sorta, (well, I don’t know) nearly make up for when they are very not so good.
Like when Capone pushes his long nose into the kitchen trash bin and pulls out everything in it that smells remotely like food, and makes many many trips (because we are busy in the other room and don’t see him doing it so don’t ask please where we were all this time) then proceeds to make a surprisingly large pile underneath the dining room table of bags of discarded leftovers, plastic bread sacks, cottage cheese containers, candy wrappers, and whatnot . . . (taking a deep breath in the remembering, and starting a new line because it’s my blog) . . . oh, also a bean can he licked clean . . .
. . . but WHICH, because of an overhanging (company) tablecloth, we do not discover until the next day when the company is sitting down to dinner and the toddler carries out a bag with an expired squash in it from underneath the table, and everybody looks on in horror because it looks exactly like a shrunken head. Which we are storing in a plastic bag, apparently, in a pile of trash underneath the dining room table.
It was a humbling moment.
I could write a very long list of offenses like this one. Very long indeed.
But that is not what this post is about, Amy
Ah yes, internal editor, you are so correct, and thank you kindly for getting me back on track.
These homemade training treats for your dog fit nicely into a pocket or bag, so training can be done anywhere: on walkies, on puddle-breaks, in the car–heck–even just when they are doing something good and you want to reward them for it (like: sitting calmly at my feet–good girl, Scout!). The dogs know to pay attention to me because . . . I (nearly) always have a few homemade training treats in my pocket!
Scout and Capone listen to me–not because they love me, lest one might get confused about this issue–but because they might actually get a treat if I notice that they are listening. Dogs are pretty simple (at least mine are) in that regard.
These are not “just because I love you” treats
Crunchy bite-sized training treats are different from “Just because I love you” treats.
Yesterday I went to the local coop for chicken feed (after going to the bank to apply for a loan to pay for it, just kidding/not kidding). I bought a supply of grains for my chooks’ future breakfasts. I was delighted to walk into the coop office to meet the kind man I had talked to on the phone earlier (around here, you call the coop before you hitch up the trailer and drive thirty miles round trip, as inventory and prices vary with the seasons), and even better–his pleasant and rather roundish dog, Zoe.
Zoe waddled over to me immediately and looked up at me hopefully with her big brown friendly eyes. “Several of our drivers know her well,” her bewhiskered owner said, a little sheepish, “and they bring her special treats. She shows it, I’m afraid.” Well, she did, at that. She was a bit on the chubby side, but Zoe was so winsome and sweet-natured, I could see why everybody wanted to give her something nice.
It made me wish that I had something nice in my pocket for her, but I didn’t. I made a mental note for next time.
The treats that the drivers (indeed, also the bewhiskered owner: I spotted a bag of commercial bacon dog treats on his desk, and a big candy jar full of bone-shaped dog snacks) freely offered to Zoe were “I love you” treats.
“I love you” treats can be any shape or size, and they usually cost quite a bit at the store. But cost doesn’t matter, because you bestow good things on those you love, without worrying about the cost. Right? They might be chewy or crunchy, and they take a bit of time to eat. They aren’t used for training because you’d have to sit down and wait while the dog chews and crunches them down, then possibly flosses out the bits from between his or her teeth.
How training treats are different from “I love you” treats
These treats are different. They are crunchy, small, delectable, designed to be consumed in a couple of crunches, and your dog–if he/she is at all motivated by food–will do nearly anything to get one.
Which is, of course, the point.
And, if you have more than one doggie that you are training, and you do several training sessions every day (as I do) you’ll appreciate that these training treats cost almost nothing.
You read that correctly.
Yup. They cost almost nothing, because you make them yourself out of something that might get tossed otherwise. I love these kinds of household economies.
And it’s amazing how powerfully motivated our dogs are by these treats!
Our two dogs have wildly different temperaments. Scout, our collie, is kind of a “law unto herself” breed. She goes her own way. It’s in her breeding. She does not care a whit about pleasing you; she is all about protecting and guiding her flock. We are her flock. But she still is motivated by these treats.
Capone, on the other hand, is a velcro dog (see photo above) and his goal in life is to be touching his master or mistress and getting as many handouts as possible throughout the day. He’s a couch potato and anytime I’m in the kitchen, he is restlessly taking laps past me, patrolling the floor for errant scraps of meat or tiny crumbs that he may clean up for me. He would move a mountain for one of these homemade training treats. And actually he’s nearly big enough to move a mountain. At least a good-sized hillock.
Bryan brought home a little bag of the special dog treats from the store. They are cute–nugget-shaped, warm meaty colors, and have faux bacon wrapped around them. The implication, I suppose, is that the dog will behave better, or possibly love you more, or maybe even feel more loved himself if you have these super cute (and delicious, judging from the cartoon smiling dog on the front) treats in your pocket.
Our dogs treat these cute little “bacon”-wrapped treats exactly the way they treat the practically-free homemade treats that I keep on hand. They give them a crunch or two, gulp them down, and then eagerly look to me for more.
No, thanks. I’ll unapologetically tight-waddy about dog treats and I’d rather make my own and use the $5 that you might use on the commercial dog treats to add to my gas budget. Or my groceries budget. Or my chicken feed budget.
And, not to get too saucy about it, but if anybody quotes this to me:
“The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) requires that all animal foods, like human foods, be safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful substances, and be truthfully labeled.”
I’ll point out that my dogs’ most desired treats come out of the rear end of my chickens, ducks and geese, and will leave it at that.
Okay, now let’s let that slide (no pun intended) and finally, finally–
Yes Amy, I thought this was going to be a super-short post?
There goes my internal editor again, going off again. So did I. So. Did. I. (You just never know, do you?)
How do I make homemade training treats for my dog?
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
- Cut up stale bread, pancakes, leftover toasts, the-cornbread-that-turned-out-too-dry-and-nobody-will-eat-it-etc. into bite-sized pieces and spread onto a cookie sheet in a single layer.
- Drizzle with melted butter or lard or bacon grease and toss cubes to spread fat.
- Bake for 30 minutes, then use a metal spatula to turn.
- Bake another 15 or 20 minutes or until dried out and crunchy. Like toast cubes. Only better.
- Store in airtight container in room temperature. They last indefinitely.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
Cut up leftover stale bread, pancakes, leftover toast, dry cornbread, etc., into bite-sized pieces. (Pro tip: I keep a bread bag in the pantry where I toss leftover breadstuffs and when I have enough, I make these treats.)
Drizzle bacon fat, melted butter, or melted lard onto bread cubes, taking care to get a drop on each piece. Stir bread cubes around to spread that fat, and then spread in a single layer.
Bake for 30 minutes, then use a metal spatula to turn bread cubes.
Bake for another 15-20 minutes or until completely dried out and crunchy-munchy.
Let cool, then store in airtight container indefinitely. Use for daily training sessions.
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I own several of these large jelly roll pans and I use them every day. I make tater tots on them, bake homemade training treats for my dogs, roast veggies on them, use them to transport baggies of bone broth and veg to the freezer downstairs, organize my seed packets on them. So many uses! Truly I reach for one or more every day. I don’t know what I’d do without them!
That’s it for this time. Thanks for popping in, gentle reader. I hope you’re doing well!
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