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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-17-2018, 12:32 PM Thread Starter
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Cheese in treat hierarchy

I read recently somewhere about being careful of quantities of cheese because of some kind of long term health risk I canít remember with too much cheese. Is this true? Iím working on my treat hierarchy and where to use cheese this week since it is such a high value treat, and balancing it with his other favorite treat, which is a prepackaged Merrick sausage. He sure loves the strong meat smells, which are my least favorite. I wish he liked peanut butter, it smells so much better! Iím trying to find a good option to use in order to save the cheese and sausage for targeted training, but this is where Iím having trouble. Heís pretty food motivated, but he just ignores kibble unless itís mealtime. When Iíve tried to use it as a treat he just cocks his head at me like Iím a crazy person trying to trick him and doesnít even take it.

Anyway, back to the cheese, how much is healthy over the course of a day or week? All of my treat portions are very tiny (I prefer to use tiny pinch sizes continually throughout the day).
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-17-2018, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by EvaE1izabeth View Post
I read recently somewhere about being careful of quantities of cheese because of some kind of long term health risk I canít remember with too much cheese. Is this true? Iím working on my treat hierarchy and where to use cheese this week since it is such a high value treat, and balancing it with his other favorite treat, which is a prepackaged Merrick sausage. He sure loves the strong meat smells, which are my least favorite. I wish he liked peanut butter, it smells so much better! Iím trying to find a good option to use in order to save the cheese and sausage for targeted training, but this is where Iím having trouble. Heís pretty food motivated, but he just ignores kibble unless itís mealtime. When Iíve tried to use it as a treat he just cocks his head at me like Iím a crazy person trying to trick him and doesnít even take it.

Anyway, back to the cheese, how much is healthy over the course of a day or week? All of my treat portions are very tiny (I prefer to use tiny pinch sizes continually throughout the day).
I don't use cheese because Kodi is allergic to dairy, and neither of the girls like it very much. That said, a lot of people DO use it. As long as your dog doesn't have a problem with dairy, it's fine in small amounts. I'd make sure to use a low fat option, and TINY pieces if your dog really loves it. And rotate it with other things.

Have you tried REAL (human) meats? Like roast pork? steak? turkey? chicken? salmon skin? Most dogs go nuts over that sort of thing, and it's a lot healthier AND less expensive than commercial dog treats. Another thing that works well is to freeze a plastic container of meat baby food (any type you want, assuming no food issues) and let the dog have a few licks as each food reward.

Another one we use a lot at our training center is frozen meatballs. Most of the people use the beef ones, but I use the turkey ones because of Kodi's allergies. if you SLIGHTLY defrost them before cutting, the cube easily, and I get 36 treats out of a single meatball.

Cheese is still the go-to for most people for working exercises where you want to throw food on the floor, because it is light and shows up well on dark mats, doesn't roll too much if cubed neatly, and doesn't shatter if you choose the right ones. (Sargent low fat mozzarella sticks work well) But there are other options. Because of Kodi's allergies, we use mini-mashmellows or Charlee Bears or turkey Happy Howies food roll for him. The girls both think the marshmallows are gross, and don't like cheese, so it's usually Happy Howies for them if something needs to be thrown.

You can also make your own treats... there are LOTS of recipes on line.

When I want something REALLY "high value" according to Kodi, I use blueberries! Crazy dog! I don't know any other dog who will work for blueberries as a first-choice treat, but that's Kodi! LOL!
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-17-2018, 01:02 PM
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Oh, also meant to mention, if it's "though out the day" training I NEVER use my highest value treats. Those are saved for challenging environments or learning REALLY difficult exercises. My around the house treats are always dry, because they are either in my pocket all day, or in open bowls strategically placed around the house for easy access. For those I use kibble or Charlee Bears as the lower value treat, and the freeze dried meat "toppers" that are small pellets, or occasionally freeze dried chicken (though that can be crumbly). I don't think I WOULD want to use cheese as an all-day-long type treat. even with the low fat ones, they are high in sodium.


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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-17-2018, 01:43 PM Thread Starter
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I usually do targeted training 2-3 times a day for a few minutes at a time so Iím noticing itís easy to lose track of how much he had of something earlier in the day if I donít plan the whole dayís portions ahead. I just wanted to make sure I have an idea of how much cheese is okay in a day.

Iíve tried a bunch of commercial treats and thereís only one worth buying to me. Everything else smells too awful to be worth the extra cost. Theyíre Merrick sausage cuts, and they are about 1Ē circles so I cut them into 9 pieces to make the bag last a while. They are the only thing he likes as much as cheese, so those two are definitely his high value treats that I want to save for training.

I think heíd go crazy for mini marshmallows because he LOVES whipped cream, but I only give it to him once a week or so. Iím going to put that one on my shopping list for a fun treat for when weíre playing, because he gets really excitable with the whipped cream. Maybe because itís so infrequent.

For throughout the day he definitely doesnít go for his kibble, so lately Iíve been using a different package of commercial treats I donít want to buy again. I would like to replace it with something that doesnít need to be refrigerated and can be kept throughout the house. Iíve been stocking up on random clearance sugar bowls and bathroom canisters to keep all over the house. I tried a peanut butter based treat and he only goes for it if itís right before a meal so it doesnít seem like the best reinforcement. Iíve heard of people using the freeze dried kibble as treats, so Iíve wondered if that might seem like more of a novelty than his regular kibble. What kind should I try first?

Right now I only use cheese outside (itís the best for snapping him out of a distraction) or to introduce something new. I think Iíll try adding meatballs because I usually have them on hand in the freezer anyway. Is lunch meat too high in sodium? We donít really eat a lot of meat other than chicken at dinner and lunch meat for my kids.

I take the Merrick with me in the car and use it more for outings. When iím early to pick up my daughter from dance itís the absolute best because I can keep him from barking out the window at the girls leaving the earlier class by having him practice ďsitĒ and ďfind itĒ and heís incredibly motivated.

It seems like liver is a longstanding dog favorite. There are so many brands, has anyone found one to have less of a smell over another?
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-17-2018, 03:23 PM
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When I want something REALLY "high value" according to Kodi, I use blueberries! Crazy dog! I don't know any other dog who will work for blueberries as a first-choice treat, but that's Kodi! LOL!
Sorry I'm not able to give a thorough answer right now, but just wanted to say that Shama also LOVES blueberries!

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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-17-2018, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by EvaE1izabeth View Post
I usually do targeted training 2-3 times a day for a few minutes at a time so Iím noticing itís easy to lose track of how much he had of something earlier in the day if I donít plan the whole dayís portions ahead. I just wanted to make sure I have an idea of how much cheese is okay in a day.
Personally, I would not give my dogs cheese daily.

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Originally Posted by EvaE1izabeth View Post
I think heíd go crazy for mini marshmallows because he LOVES whipped cream, but I only give it to him once a week or so. Iím going to put that one on my shopping list for a fun treat for when weíre playing, because he gets really excitable with the whipped cream. Maybe because itís so infrequent.
The marshmallows are probably not as bad for him as whipped cream, because, although, of course, they are completely sugar, at least they don't have the fat that whipped cream has.

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Originally Posted by EvaE1izabeth View Post
For throughout the day he definitely doesnít go for his kibble, so lately Iíve been using a different package of commercial treats I donít want to buy again. I would like to replace it with something that doesnít need to be refrigerated and can be kept throughout the house. Iíve been stocking up on random clearance sugar bowls and bathroom canisters to keep all over the house. I tried a peanut butter based treat and he only goes for it if itís right before a meal so it doesnít seem like the best reinforcement. Iíve heard of people using the freeze dried kibble as treats, so Iíve wondered if that might seem like more of a novelty than his regular kibble. What kind should I try first?
As long as he doesn't have any food restrictions, I'd go to a high end "boutique" type dog food store and see what they have in the way of sample sized packages. Try out a bunch of different ones and see what he likes. You don't even have to worry about how high quality they are (although that's nice too) because you won't be feeding large quantities.

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Right now I only use cheese outside (itís the best for snapping him out of a distraction) or to introduce something new.
Be careful about trying to "lure" attention with food. Food can very often overcome distraction in the short term. But in the long term, you can't use either food or corrections in the ring, and don't WANT to use them all the time in every day life. You want a dog who will do what you ask because they CHOOSE to work with you. ...Then reward them, rather than luring.

Work on new behaviors first in quiet, non-distracting settings, then when they are REALLY fluent in those laces (so you can count on them responding correctly at least 80% of the time, on the first cue, without food) it's time to slowly increase distraction. Otherwise you end up with a dog that will only work if they know you have the cookie in your hand.

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Is lunch meat too high in sodium? We donít really eat a lot of meat other than chicken at dinner and lunch meat for my kids.
Depends on the lunch meat. There are low sodium options. But lunch meat is hard to cut into small, easily delivers cubes, and the easier and more precise delivery is, the faster they learn. Pork roast are cheap. Even if you don't want to eat them, buy them on sale. Cook one or two at a time. Cook it longer than you would for humans, so it's would be considered "dry and tough" by human standards. Then let it cool and cube it really small. Freeze it in small baggies, and pull out a new bag as you need it.

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Originally Posted by EvaE1izabeth View Post
I take the Merrick with me in the car and use it more for outings. When iím early to pick up my daughter from dance itís the absolute best because I can keep him from barking out the window at the girls leaving the earlier class by having him practice ďsitĒ and ďfind itĒ and heís incredibly motivated.
That's a fine time to use whatever works. Then it's MUCH more about "management" and NOT practicing unwanted behaviors than it is about learning new skills!

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Originally Posted by EvaE1izabeth View Post
It seems like liver is a longstanding dog favorite. There are so many brands, has anyone found one to have less of a smell over another?
Well, beef is another thing Kodi can't eat, so I don't buy. I occasionally buy freeze dried bison liver, but it is VERY hard... not, IMO, a good training treat. I do use it as a distraction in the vets office... that sort of thing. They sell BIG bags of lamb lung in Petco and Petsmart, and on Amazon. That's a LITTLE softer, so a bit easier to break up, and doesn't smell quite as strong. Because you can buy it in quantity, it's cheaper, as freeze dried meat goes.


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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-17-2018, 05:21 PM
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Sorry I'm not able to give a thorough answer right now, but just wanted to say that Shama also LOVES blueberries!
Smart girl! She knows those anti-oxidants are good for her!


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