One of the greatest passions of our furry, four-legged friends is food, and being able to eat any time of day. But as they can’t always eat dog food to avoid excess weight and indigestion, there’s nothing better than to have some good dog biscuits on hand and make their day.
It’s a healthy way to reward them when they behave well, obey your commands or simply when you want to indulge them a bit. Let’s look at when the best time to give them a treat is, when you shouldn’t, and of course, the best treats that you can give them.
What is a treat and what does it mean to reward a dog?
We all know that a dog’s weaknesses are food and love from his owner and companion. So, a healthy and nice way to reward them when they do something well is to give them a dog treat and lots of praise.
As a practical example, if I’m walking my puppy outside and he pees or poops where he should, I give him a dog biscuit while I praise him with petting and enthusiastic words. It’s a fantastic way to communicate with your puppy and make him understand that peeing and/or pooping outside is very good, and in this way he’ll stop doing it inside the house. When he can’t hold it and goes pee or poop in the house, simply don’t reward him or give him praise (you shouldn’t scold him, just ignore him).
An example in an adult dog would be if you were trying to train him to bring his ball and drop it so you can throw it again. When he brings it and drops the ball at your command, praise him for the good job he did and reward him with a dog biscuit and affection.
A treat is a piece of food that’s good for the dog, and rewarding him consists of giving him that piece of food and praising him physically and verbally.
Are dog biscuits a healthy food?
There is a simple answer to this question: some are, and others aren’t. Just like with cookies for humans, some are made industrially with cheap, unhealthy ingredients, while others are artisanal and made with completely natural ingredients.
What different treats can you use?
Don’t feel like you have to limit yourself to biscuits; there are many other foods that you can use as treats. Some are healthier than others, as you can see below…
Here are some of the different treats you can use with your dog:
- Hot dogs/sausage: Truthfully, sausages aren’t “healthy” for dogs or for humans, for that matter, as they contain preservatives and different chemicals that are better left unsaid. But you can cut a hot dog up into small pieces and give them to him when appropriate.
- Fruit: Only certain types of fruit and always without seeds or pits. This is a very healthy way to reward them, but don’t overdo it so that they don’t have any digestive upset. Here, you can see the types of fruits that will sit well with them: Healthy fruits for dogs.
- Pieces of kibble: These can also be used as a treat, but let’s be honest, it would be giving them the same old thing… the same thing they eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s better to use some other type of food that’s not his dog food.
- Dog biscuits: If they are made with natural ingredients and free of preservatives and chemicals, these are an excellent option to reward your dog.
Any type of healthy food can be used as a treat for your dog. You simply have to evaluate when it’s the right time to give them a treat and try to vary it every few weeks so that they don’t get bored with the same treat all the time.
When should you give your dog a treat and when shouldn’t you?
It’s very important to know when to give him a dog biscuit/treat and when not to, because your dog can get confused. You should only give him a treat when he behaves correctly; let’s see some examples.
You can give him a treat when:
- When he obeys your commands, for example while taking a walk or if you’re training him.
- When you want to distract him, for example if you pass another dog that he usually growls at a bit. After walking past the dog, and only if he behaved himself and didn’t growl, you would give him a treat.
You should never give him a treat when:
- When he’s nervous or too hyper; wait for him to completely relax first.
- When he hasn’t done anything but you want to give him a bit of food as a treat, never give him a treat without doing something. You can tell him to sit, and then give him the treat as a reward, for example.
- When he does something bad or behaves badly, you should never give him a treat, because he’ll think that you’re rewarding him for doing the wrong thing.
How should you give your dog a treat?
When he behaves well or correctly follows your commands, you can give your dog a treat, but carefully so that he doesn’t lunge for it, since they can be a little impatient sometimes.
You should hold the biscuit in your fingers and bring it calmly towards your dog’s mouth. If he tries to lunge for it, it’s best that you tell him to sit and then give it to him.
He should take it gently; if he takes it roughly, take it away and tell him “no!”, then calmly bring it to him again so that he takes it gently. You should praise him enthusiastically with words like “good dog” or “well done” and also pet/rub him.
This is the best way to give your dog a treat.
How many treats can I give my dog per day?
This is something that only your common sense can determine. For example, if you use pieces of fruit, be aware that too much won’t sit well with him because his digestive system isn’t prepared for it.
On the other hand, if you use natural dog biscuits, you can use as many as you want as long as your dog doesn’t start to gain weight. You should determine this for yourself based on your dog’s weight and activity level. Personally, I use from 5-8 biscuits a day with my dogs and a few more if I run across other dogs who I want to treat, hehehe.
I must insist: 100% natural biscuits. Forget about those industrially produced biscuits/snacks that they sell in big supermarkets or even in some veterinary clinics. You can read the ingredients list and see what I’m talking about.
With pieces of sausage, you can use them for no more than a few days in a row and leave a couple weeks in between. Being a product with preservatives and God knows what else, it’s best not to go overboard with them. When I use them, I simply use one sausage per dog per day (medium sized dogs).