Sunday, August 24, 2008

Homemade Dog Training Treats

It's baking day today! Usually once a week or so I do up a batch of training treats to last the boys through their various classes and training sessions. Today I made up two of my (and the boys') favorite recipes. Both are very easy and don't require a lot of fancy ingredients that you have to go to a specialty store for ... two of my primary baking standards!

Fishy Fudge

These ones are soft and stinky, perfect for training!

- two cans of tuna in water OR one large can of salmon in water
- two eggs
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1.5 cups flour

Step 1
- In a blender, combine fish with the canning water, eggs, and garlic. Blend until smooth. You can add the egg shells in the blender as well, great source of calcium! I choose to keep the shells aside and add them to the boy's dinner later on.

Step 2
- Pour the blender mixture into a mixing bowl. Add 1.5 cups of flour. White flour works well, as does whole wheat flour. I imagine you could use rice flour, oat flour, etc. though I haven't tried it myself. Mix well.

Step 3
- Press the dough into a greased 9x9 baking dish. Bake at 350F for 20-30 minutes. I like to remove the dish after about 20 minutes and cut into ~1 inch squares. The dough will still be very sticky and wet at this point. Return to the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes until the desired firmness. If you like them stickier, bake less. Firmer, bake more. After baking, remove from oven, allow to cool and break into pre-cut squares. I prefer to cut them into ~1 inch squares as then I can rip of tiny pieces as needed for training, or use one large piece as a JACKPOT.

Alternative Baking Option
- Spoon the dough into a piping bag (or a plastic bag with the corner cut out). Pipe into long strips on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350F for ~15 minutes, or until done. Allow to cool and snip into smaller sticks with scissors.

- Fishy Fudge will keep for about a week in a sealed container in the fridge. They can also be frozen and thawed for later use.

Liver Treats

High value rewards for an extra good job!

- a couple trays of chicken livers. These can be purchased at most grocery stores, usually frozen into trays, for about $1.33/kg (~$0.60/lb). Beef or pork liver works well also, though I would recommend that you cut it into approximately 2" x 2" squares before proceeding.
- garlic powder

Step 1
- Get a large pot of water boiling and toss in the livers and a couple shakes of garlic to your desired potency. If the livers are still slightly frozen, that is fine. Boil until they are cooked all the way through. To test if they are cooked, remove one liver and cut it in half through the middle. If it is brown-gray all the way through with no pink-red areas, then it is cooked. Takes approximately 10 minutes, give or take.

Step 2
- Once they are cooked through, remove from the water and place on a baking sheet in one layer. Place in the oven (convection or traditional) at 250F.

Step 3
- Check after about 20 minutes, and if the livers are dry and slightly browned on top, remove from the oven. Flip the livers over and return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes until they are an even golden brown. You don't want to leave them too long so that they get hard or burn, just long enough to dry them a bit.

These treats will stay soft on the inside, so can easily be broken into training treat sized bits.

- These freeze very well! I will occasionally make up a couple large batches, portion into plastic zip-top bags and freeze. Remove what is needed from the freezer about an hour before training. Any leftovers will keep in the fridge for about a week.

Remember, always allow the treats to cool completely before storing! That will prevent them from getting soggy in the fridge or frosty in the freezer.

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