Your dog determines the value of the reinforcement he works for. If I am using treats to reinforce behavior, they have to be treats the dog wants. Most dogs hold meat, fat, and cat poop in high regard. Whoa! What about my dog’s health? Of course I’m not going to feed him cat poop, and I need to be aware of how much fat and protein he is consuming. How can I balance the need for high value treats with a healthy diet?
Freshpet is a refrigerated complete dog food that comes in a sliceable roll and in a chunk form. Many large supermarkets and pet supply stores carry it. Unlike previous dogs, my Large Munsterlander, Deagan has no interest in raw vegetables. He will not even take a piece of carrot into his mouth, much less eat it. Raw veggies are not going to reinforce anything for him. But Deagan loves Freshpet and it is a complete food so it can take the place of part of his regular diet and serve as high value treat.
Freshpet is easy to slice to the size I want, and is free of preservatives (it is refrigerated and has a use-by date). I usually slice it up into appropriately sized bits and freeze in small portions.
When adding treats to your dog’s diet, use moderation and remember that a tiny, tasty treat is most effective. For large dogs I use pieces that are no larger than my smallest fingernail. The smaller the dog, the smaller the treat. Tiny dogs should get teeny-tiny treats! Most commercial treats are way too large and will need to be cut up (which also makes it more economical for you).
Just like people, preferred foods may not agree with your dog’s digestion. What comes out of your dog can tell you a lot about how his digestion is working. Here is a link to an article about assessing the digestion of your dog.