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An alternative to commercially prepared treats (perhaps since you know what ingredients go into them and because homemade ones are often much cheaper as well as better quality), is to make your own. Here are some suggestions.
If you want to add nutrition, dust meat bits with debittered Brewers Yeast and kelp powder. Soaked millet, rolled oats and cooked barley are good substitutes for other treat recipes requiring wheat since they are higher in protein and are more easily digested by dogs.
Probably the highest value treat and the best tolerated food I have found for most dogs is heart. Heart is a muscle meat and there is no gastrointestinal upset if a dog eats a lot of it. It is high in taurine and counteracts the effects of legumes in grain free kibble.
Purchase heart of any species. Ideally source the meat from a local butcher who has access to grass-fed animals.
Cut off excess fat (for the larger animals) and slice the heart into half inch slices and cook on a no-stick pan without oil. Cook on both sides until there is still a little pink in the middle. Remove from heat and cut into cubes the size appropriate for your dog.
If you have some left over, they freeze well but are not as tasty as if fresh-cooked. Thaw for a few minutes before feeding. BBQing can increase their value. I use this for high distraction environments and behaviours I need to be strong away from home like recalls. Avoid using in low distraction environments or you risk your dog refusing other lower value treats. They are that yummy! LOL!
Chicken Patty Treats
For probably the most economically priced and easiest to prepare healthy training treat, purchase frozen chicken patties, sprinkle liberally with garlic powder and cook until done all the way through. Cut into 1/4 inch cubes and freeze.
When needed, thaw for 10 sec in microwave and cut again into quarter inch cubes. (about $3 per kg or $1.50 per pound!)
Cooked Liver (beef, chicken, pork or turkey)
garlic powder flavoring
Sprinkle powder on liver and use outdoor BBQ to fry up liver slices. This prevent smelling up house. and cut into strips, then tiny bits. Freeze in containers. This is very rich and should not be more than 1/6 of your dog's daily food intake. Most dogs will get the runs from eating too much. A few dogs get goopy eyes from eating cooked liver.
Moist Meat Treats
A bit more sloppy treat is slow cooked chicken, turkey, duck or roast. Buy the cheapest cuts and cook until meat falls off from bones. Separate bones from meat and freeze meat bits in containers, using wax paper or plastic to make layers that container enough for one training session. Freeze. Thaw or microwave before using.
For the cheap cuts of meats such as beef or moose roast, cut into 3/4 inch steaks.
Freeze until ready to cook separating steaks with wax paper or plastic. Drop bundle on the ground to break apart and remove as many steaks as you want to cook. Thaw. Sprinkle garlic powder on both sides and let sit for a few minutes. Cook (in a no stick pan or BBQ) until brown all the way through then slice in quarter inch strips and freeze in containers. Cut into 1/4 inch squares after thawing.
These meats also do well when ground up in a food processor and put in a food tube.
Beef/chicken/turkey Patty treats
1lb lean ground beef, chicken, or turkey
1-2 cup quick oatmeal (add more or less depending on consistency-more for higher fat meat)
garlic powder to taste
Mix all ingredients into a giant patty (or several smaller ones) and flatten to very thin. Cook on a no stick fry pan until cooked. Flip and cook all the way through.
Cool and cut into strips, then tiny squares and freeze on cookie sheet. Then scoop bits into containers for freezing. This does have a somewhat crumbly texture so best used at home. This recipe is more work (and more expensive) than the chicken patty treats above)
Use a mild chedder or marble cheese and cut into 1/4 inch cubes. On hot days can get a bit mushy.
Hard Boiled Egg Bits
Hard boil an egg or two for 10 minutes and let cool. Peel the shell off and cut egg white and yolk into small pieces and freeze in a small container. Take a few out for training sessions and let thaw for a few minutes (or microwave for 15 sec). The yolk is usually highly prized by dogs. It is a bit messy but works well for in home training.
Egg variation: Make french toast and cook all the way through. Cut into quarter inch cubes and freeze until needed. You can also make a double egg omelet in a very small pan. Flip it over to cook both sides until dry. Cut into squares. Mixing in a bit of flour before cooking can help it stick together better.
Kidney Bean Treats
Slow cooked kidney beans are high in protein and do not cause gas in most dogs. They are very cheap and make an ideal, if somewhat sloppy treat.
Place 2-3 times as much water as beans in a slow cooker, turn on high and cook until tender (about 4 hours).
Use a slotted spoon and lift beans onto cookie sheet in a single layer and freeze.
When frozen, remove from freezer, let thaw for about 3 minutes or run water over the back of the cookie sheet, then lift with flipper or butter knife and break into bits and freeze in containers. It looks like peanut brittle at this point. Place into containers and freeze.
Take them out of the freezer for a few minutes before using during training. Juice makes a tasty additive to dry foods.
If you mash them, you can use them in a food tube too!
Have other favorite recipes? Please share them with us!