I often focus on talking about training treats for dogs in this blog. I do this for a couple of reasons. We use a lot of training treats here! Simba is my service dog and every day we review some commands just to keep them fresh in her memory. Training can mean a lot of extra food and calories so I like treats that are small, healthy, and low in calories. Training treats fit this bill.
Another reason I talk about training treats a lot is that dogs don’t need a large treat to be happy. Simba is often just happy to get something; she doesn’t need a huge biscuit to be happy.
Training treats are also great if you have a smaller dog. Calories can add up fast and if you have a smaller dog and treats can take up a good portion of their calorie intake for the day rather quickly if you are not careful.
Lately, I had been wanting to make some homemade dog training treats for Simba. So, we tried a couple of super easy recipes to make some delicious, inexpensive, high-protein homemade dog training treats. Now, we are excited to share them here with you!
When you head out to the store there is a lot of dog training treats available. The sheer number of choices can be overwhelming. It’s easy to get persuaded by the attractive packaging; the cute dog on the front of the bag; or the little proclamations on the bag declaring their excellence.
Sometimes I go to the store with the best intention of purchasing only limited ingredients, wholesome treats with natural ingredients but I too get pulled into the marketing hootenanny and sometimes end up purchasing a bag of treats for the sole reason that the dog looks happy on the front of the package. I get home and realize I fell victim to clever marketing and purchased something I didn’t really want.
Everything you see for sale in the store is strategically packaged, marketed, and placed to attract your attention and get you to buy it. Marketing draws you in, making you want to purchase their products because you remember the talking Golden retriever that wants bacon or maybe the dog running across the floor supposedly saying Kibbles ‘n Bits, ‘n Bits, ‘n Bits.
A great way to not get caught up in the marketing strategies that are out to get you is to stay home and make your own great homemade dog training treats. This way you know exactly what ingredients are in those treats; where the ingredients came from; the cleanliness of the kitchen and cooks; how the treats were made, and you choose ingredients that are safe and your dog will love!
A great benefit to making homemade dog training treats is that (as I mentioned above) you know and are in control of exactly what ingredients are in those treats. If you decide you want to make a peanut butter treat for your dog you control if you want your dog to have organic, natural, chunky, creamy, Skippy, etc.
Making treats at home from scratch also means there are no added preservatives. While some preservatives are naturally occurring and not bad for your dog, some preservatives are NOT good for any living animal. Making your dog’s treats at home means you can eliminate preservatives altogether.
If your dog has a special condition such as food allergies, diabetes, sensitive stomach, skin irritations, being overweight, etc. you get to be in control of selecting ingredients appropriate for your dog’s situation.
It’s cheaper! Most of the time you’re going to find it is much less expensive to make your own dog training treats at home rather than purchasing them at the store.
It’s fun! Especially if you get the kids to help!
How to Decide
You browse the Internet for recipes to make your own dog treats and there are a ton of them out there and most of them look amazing! I’m going to fess up and admit that when it comes to baking and cooking I am pretty darn lazy. Some of the treat recipes I found contained multiple ingredients, some of which I don’t keep around the house or they just take more finesse than I feel a dog treat needs. I mean really, does the dog care if the treat is in the shape of a little bone or has fake frosting on it? I don’t think so.
I opt for recipes that are incredibly simple and have few ingredients, all of which I likely have at home already and don’t need to make a run to the store. Here is a couple of awesome high protein, low-fat recipes I found that Simba loves.
Lean Jerky Bits
- Meat (Preferably a lower fat meat)
- I find it much easier to cut meat when it is still partially frozen so I recommend taking it out of the freezer and letting it thaw a bit until it is still firm but no longer hard as a rock.
- Preheat the oven to 175°F.
- Cut off and discard excess fat.
- Cut meat into small equal-sized pieces. Keep in mind these are training treats and the meat will shrink when cooked. The size you choose certainly can depend on the size of your dog but I chose to cut the beef shown in this picture into approximately half-inch pieces. I happened to have a pack of stir-fry beef in the freezer which worked out nicely as they were already cut up into fairly small pieces with some only needing to be cut in half.
- Allow the meat to thaw completely.
- Pat the meat dry with paper towels after it thaws.
- Line a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper and distribute the pieces of meat evenly.
- Dry the meat in the oven for 4-5 hours or until it becomes dry and leathery. Rotate the sheet occasionally throughout the baking time.
- Take the jerky bits out of the oven when they appear to be completely dry. The actual drying time will depend on the size and type of meat used.
- Blot off any oil that may remain and let it cool completely before sharing it with your dog!
- Store in an airtight container and refrigerate to extend shelf life.
I cooked Simba’s jerky too long so they are more like beef crunchies than beef jerky, but Simba absolutely GOES CRAZY for these! You can see the absolute joy on her face!!
This one comes to me by way of Ken Steepe at McCann Dogs. He uses these homemade dog training treats at his dog obedience school routinely and dogs love it! I love that they are high in protein and low in fat. You can make them even lower in fat if you eliminate the cheese but then watch your cooking time. Cheese adds moisture and grease so without it the treats may bake quicker.
- 1 can of albacore tuna in water (do not drain)
- 1 egg
- 1 cup of flour
- ¼ cup of cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Combine all ingredients, mixing thoroughly.
- Spread combined ingredients evenly in an 8 x 8 lightly sprayed cooking pan.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
- Turn the oven down to 275°F.
- Use a spatula to remove the entire sheet from the pan and turn it over onto a cutting board.
- Using a pizza cutter or knife cut treats into thumbnail (or smaller) pieces.
- Place pieces back into the cooking pan.
- Bake for an additional 40-60 minutes. Start checking treats at 40 minutes for crispness.
- Once crisp, remove from oven.
- Break treats into even smaller bits and store them in baggies in the fridge.
When cooking the jerky bits remember that the cooking time may vary depending on how big the pieces are and what type of meat you are using. It’s also a good idea to just keep an eye on things when you bake as baking times may vary depending on your oven.
If you won’t use up the treats in a fairly short amount of time, you can freeze these for later use. This will extend their freshness and shelf life considerably.