low-calorie treats

Discussion in 'General Dog Training' started by dat123, Feb 5, 2008.

  1. dat123 Experienced Member

    I have tried many varieties of treats for my dogs, with no problems in thier dog sports, with the exception of dog dancing training ( and sometimes tricks ).
    At dance training they will go through the equivilant of 3 days dinner in just 20 mins !!!!
    Considering training goes for an hour, this is a major problem. I've had to limit thier dinner for next couple of days afterwards and try to increase thier exercise, which isn't a big problem for border-collies , just finding the time to do it.
    I'm looking for extremly low-calorie treats that are still very inviting to the dogs, that won't make them fat.
    Does anyone know of good low-calorie treats I can try, or perhaps seen a recipe ????????

  2. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Hmm...you might try a cheap brand rice or corn flake cereal mixed with an organic, unsalted peanut butter to make little peanut butter cereal balls. Just roll some flakes in some peanut butter and roll it into a little ball. =) You can also use rolled oats and do the same thing.
    You could also try slicing some kind of meat into teeny tiny slices, or find a fruit or veggie that your dogs like that you can cut into small pieces. Although I don't use it for training, Rusty loves some apple and carrot slices added to his food every now and then. Zeke really seems to like the apples. If your dogs are finicky eaters though, then this may not be such a good idea.
    If you're having them earn their meals, then you could perhaps use a combination of the training treat and the food they have for actual meals. I don't know the exact caloric intake for these foods, but they are good for them, and they might like them. :dogsmile:
  3. dat123 Experienced Member

    Good advice. You've got my brain ticking now !!
    I had been using their normal dry dog food as treats, it's small pieces, always available, not messy, but has 2 problems.....1 ) not exciting enough to get their 100% focus, especially learning new tricks from scratch. 2) I seem to have an allergy to it. Contact with my skin, or heaven-forbid it touches my lips ( from my hand touching the food, not the food in my mouth ), I'd be in hospital in 30mins, with my face swollen. !!!!!
    My top choices to date have been ...Cheese, they love it. Almost do cart-wheels for it !
    Meat... sausage type, cut small, ham, chicken, etc. Again, isn't always on hand, gets greasy and messy, but dogs go crazy for it.
    I really like the rice and cereal idea. If I can make up a bulk amount from home, to last a while that would be perfect. What ingriedient could I add to make it taste and smell fantastic for the dogs ? A sauce or something ? Sorry, I'm hopeless in the kitchen :dogsad:
    I've taken it a bit further, and looking at their actual calorie intake from their dog food brand, ( looks about 400 Kcal ), and will start checking calories in cheese, meats etc.
    Thanks Tx , think I'm starting to get somewhere now.:dogbiggrin:
  4. emmasmamma Guest

    Perhaps adding a little bacon grease to the cereal mix. It wouldn't take much to give it an appetizing scent. If your dogs are like mine they don'y take too much time to actually taste it any way. What I usually do with Emma is, she has one brand for her regular feeding and a different brand for training. The training food is a little "fancier" brand that has different flavored and shaped pieces.
  5. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    HA, I'm at a loss in the kitchen too, lol! I've resorted to extremely simple things that involve no ovens, lol, and canine cookbooks. The rice flakes with the peanut butter is a good training treat, I think. ^^ Hmm....you could add.....erm....uh...:dogblink: Lol. How about...okay, I don't know. Lol....sorry! If I think of anything I'll let you know. :dogsmile: Ah, you can never go wrong with cheese! Lol. Never met a dog that didn't like cheese. If you use the rice flake/peanut butter balls, be sure to get the house brand, as they usually contain less sugar.
    One thing I've also done before is...
    -Cut some meat into TINY pieces
    -Tear some whole wheat bread into little pieces
    -Squish the bread around the meat, making a tiny little mini-sammich balls. Lol! (You can also use cheese, or fruit, or veggies...be creative!)
    I don't use this a lot, but I have before and the dogs loved it.
    Dear, careful with that dog food! Now that's an interesting story..."Well Doc, I was training my dogs, and their food just doesn't agree with me. So that's why I'm here."
    Hehehe. :doglaugh:

    Oh, and oils are good for the skin and coat, although too much will just make them pack on the pounds. Vegetable oil is good for weight gain, as is canola oil, and olive oil is great for the skin and coat. Mud's skin usually gets pretty dry and she develops this kind of dandruff-like condition. I started adding Extra Virgin Olive Oil on her food, and her coat is silky-soft, and NO DANDRUFF! Lol.
  6. dat123 Experienced Member

    Thanks guys, this has been very helpful. I guess it's time to hit the kitchen :dogtongue:
    Should be able to do the ' 60 treats in 60 seconds' exercise again. It's a slow heel in a random pattern with the dog constantly looking at your eyes, and not taking it's focus away for a second. As you can imagine , the dog eats a LOT, doing this exercise.
    I like the bacon grease idea. Hadn't thought of the oils before, very smart idea, and healthy.
    Hey ! We might have a start of a new dog treat business here !:msniwonder:
  7. Jean Cote Administrator

    Well the lowest calorie treat would be toys! And since you own border collies this should be quite easy to do! :dogsmile:

    My border collie will work more for toys, or a retrieve than she will for a treat. So when I train, I teach the behavior with food, and polish it using toys, balls or tug toys to gain enthusiasm.
  8. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Lol, hmm, a treat business... :doglaugh: Sounds like a good idea!
    Jean's right, toys are always a great motivation too. ^^ Zeke won't work for food at all. He's completely uninterested in treats unless they are given to him at random. But get a ball or tugtoy, and boy is he ready to learn! Lol. And best of all, no risk of getting pudgy. ^^ Lol.
    Good luck Dat!
  9. dat123 Experienced Member

    I try to use toys as much as possible, tuggies, frisbee, ball, kong on a rope. Agility training is ok, maybe 5 treats in an hour session the obstacles are rewarding in itself, frisbee freestyle is self-rewarding no treats, most tricks aren't a problem. But the dog dancing requires lots of luring, marking positions and movements with quick and frequent rewards. For dancing they need to be calm and in focus, a toy just increases their already high drive. Eventually I will phase out the frequency of rewards, but nowhere near that stage yet.
    I do agree, border collies would much rather sprint, tug, catch than have food. With the exception of my oldest, I'm sure shes a labrador in a black and white suit :dogdry:
  10. Jean Cote Administrator

    Or you could always try using Cherios or any low calorie cereal .. that is .. if your dogs are interested. :dogsmile:
  11. leema New Member

    Why not just use your dogs meal? Clover almost exclusively gets fed during training sessions, and not 'out of a bowl'.

    And is there anything wrong with limiting food over the next few days? :) I do that with my older boy, who will eat a large meal day, and will have a fast then small feeds for the following days.

    The only low cal thing I can think of off the top of my head is water crackers.... 'Cause I snack on them for that reason. ;)
    Or carrot! My dogs will work for carrot... Weirdos.
  12. CollieMan Experienced Member

    I find myself agreeing with leema. (Second time today.) I did this with Ellie for months, until she started to prefer play to food as her rewards. Seems like a simple enough solution to me...
  13. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Dat mentioned using the dogs' food, but is allergic to it and can't handle it too much. For their dog-dancing, they want the dog calm and attentive, whereas play would heighten the dog's drive instead. :dogsmile:
    Rusty likes carrots, too. ^^
  14. dat123 Experienced Member

    Can I state for the record ! I HAVE NOT put any dog food in my mouth, in case anybody was thinking that . :dogtongue:
    Although I have developed a bit of a bark, and my fur , sorry hair, is much glossier than before !!!!! LOL Only kidding :msnwink: :msnwink: :msnwink:
    I'll try some water crackers this week, and see what they think.
    I'm starting to wonder if anyone has heard of the High-low food treat levels, golden rule for dog training. High- super tasty ( chicken, cheese etc ), for new tricks, super dog focus ---- low-(bland dog food), tricks that are well learnt, routine stuff ! Someone help me out here...Jean ?? ,colliman ??? anyone .
    Yes leema, you are right about limiting their food. Which I do, frequently. That is more a bigger problem with me, I feel guilty only giving them a quarter in their bowl, they scoff it down so fast, then look up at me me those big sad brown eyes, and say " please sir, can I have more ...".:dogunsure:
  15. leema New Member

    Well put it in a kong instead. ^.^ Or a bustercube. Or freeze it in a cube of ice. That'll make it last!

    As for using different types of treats, I am experimenting at the moment... I often have a pot with some 'normal food' and some 'less normal' food. I use the normal food to reward anything, and then the 'less normal' food to reward something really sexy!
    For example, Clover often finds the need to 'do something else' when watching my face. I just want her watch! If she shuffles her feet, she still gets the reward, but it's the normal one. If she doesn't, she gets the 'less normal' one. I think I did see improvements from doing this.

    But really, training either of my dogs, takes up a lot of food. :p And I can't stand to think of them getting fatty. My dogs are used to getting fed at anytime of the day or night, so don't 'expect to be fed' 7pm on the dot every night. That way, if they're already full from training, they're not being annoying because it's 7 and, my stomach is full, but it's 7!
    ... Did that make any sense? :/
  16. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Lol, I wasn't implying that you were munching on your dogs' food for a snack. ^^ Although I have known a not-so-bright friend or two that tried their dog's treats... :dogblink: Lol!
    I've heard of something like the high-low food treat levels. Don't know much about it though, and never really used exactly that. I have a few reward levels really. When learning a new trick, I'll jackpot for a breakthrough in training(a handful of treats, rather than one or two), unless the breakthrough is HUGE. Then I'll give them something tastier. The better they get at the trick, the fewer treats I give. I replace it with play and praise.
    Lol, that reminds me...my friend's lab loves Ritz crackers. ^^ He goes nuts for them.
  17. CollieMan Experienced Member

    hehe Yes, I have. I might have dreamed this (though I'd like to make clear that I don't typically dream of DTA Members) but I seem to recall Barby saying that she uses different levels of treats for her beagle, Xsara, based on this sort of thing.

    I don't. Not for any other reason than our training sessions are typically very mixed and we practise old and new things in no set order. It would be less instinctive if I had to remember which pocket I needed to dig into for which treat, and for which action I am rewarding. I try desperately hard to make our training sessions seem less like training sessions and so anything that makes them more formal than they need to be gets rejected pretty quickly. Our training sessions seem more like play sessions every day.

    If I want to bonus reward then I just give more of whatever treat I'm using and give lots more noisy praise. What I do make sure of though is that I change the treats every day or two.

    I typically rotate around:

    Lamb hearts (These are her favourite.)

    But again, neither one is more important than the other. Last night I started to teach Ellie to wear slippers, and we were using kibble for that. She was perfectly enthusiastic I can tell you. In fact, she was very happy because I can roll it across the floor after the click and she enjoys trying to stop it rolling.

    For her cop-cop, she's now happier to do it for me throwing her plastic ring to catch than she is if I reward her with food. She's a typical Border Collie and needs her energy fix. Food takes a back seat for many Border Collies when there is movement to be had!

    But, going back to your original question of low-cal treats... I haven't tried this, but what about roasting (or just charring) carrots or turnips? This caramelises them and brings the natural sweetness to the surface. Lord knows it's the only way that I can eat many vegetables. :) I suspect that might be quite appealing to dogs. I am going to try it today I think!
  18. dat123 Experienced Member

    Did you mean fetch the slippers or wear the slippers ?????? If it's the later, I really want to see that on video :msnohyes:
    My results for training are very good for a meat treat, their willingness to learn and please is very high. New tricks, especially shaping, I'll use meat or sometimes cheese, tricks they know well- kibble treats.
    I'll experiment with different foods that everyone has suggested over the next couple of weeks.
    Collieman...Just off the topic a bit : I read your blog on dog dancing ( which I'll reply to later in more depth ), when you have time, could you view this video [media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwSC3AxMec8[/media] , I'd like to hear your objective opinion on it.
  19. CollieMan Experienced Member

    Yes, I meant the latter. Of course, I've completely stolen the idea from Silvia Trkman - again!

    Once your blood has ceased boiling? :)

    I'm not sure just how objective I can really be, given my already stated dislike and lack of understanding of doggy-dancing. Though, as I believe if someone asks for my opinion, they want an honest one, I'll do my best...

    I watched it - twice. The first thing that hit me was the tacky music. It was out of date, it was cheesy, and it was just not to my taste. This is a potential problem of doing anything to music of course; you risk alienating a large part of the audience, just through choosing music that they dislike, or have no emotional or other connection with.

    Then came the "dancing" from the human participant. Immediately, I began to feel uncomfortable. As I mentioned in my blog entry, this surely says more about me than it does the dancer, but you did ask for my opinion. :)

    Again, I'm no expert on dancing, but the "moves", such as they were, seemed very dated too, and that added to the whole head-scratching ordeal. While it's possible that this was shot in the 1970's and the music and dance moves were of the moment, something tells me that it wasn't the case. :)

    On the plus side, this was one of the seemingly less contrived ones that I've ever had the misfortune to watch. The human partner seemed quite relaxed and made long quite natural movements (almost walking) at times, and this made it seem a little less like "dancing", and a little easier for me to watch. (I felt my hands lift slightly from over my eyes, at least twice.)

    As I continued to watch, I, once again, was unable to question the technical merits of what the dog was achieving. I can and do admire the work the dog puts in, and that is never in question. I just can't and don't see why the other frilly nonsense has to be there. Mark Twain believed golf to be a good walk ruined; I believe that doggy dancing is a good dog-trick exhibition ruined.

    It takes what could be a display of technical excellence, and turns it into a frivolous and self-indulgent display of anthropomorphism.

    I shall now go don my hard-hat in readiness for the fall-out. :)
  20. chevycgc Well-Known Member

    What about low fat/calorie hot dogs or turkey dogs. I used to use them a lot and am going to go back to them once I get through my commercial treats. You can use them raw, (even though they are actually cooked not raw), and slice them the width of a nickel and then lay them on their side and cut them four ways to make quarters. Thats all the size you need, and they smell good to the dog. You can also microwave the pieces till hard. I have seen people do that too.

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