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The Power to Devour - Treats and Baits

You’re doing amazing! To have hung in there for this long, you really are dedicated to your dog’s well-being. Congratulations!

This installment sees us look at the brighter side of nutrition and also sees us look at some more seedy sides of nutrition. But we do this to educate ourselves and enrich the lives of our dogs. Even though last week was horrible, we looked at poisons and how they can affect our dogs, this week we will brighten up some.

Let us get the horrible stuff out of the way and see how our dogs can be baited:

It goes without saying that all poisons should be out of reach of children, but we can easily miss our dogs when it comes to poisons safety. We just don’t think about it all that much. But all poisons should be kept in a place that only a responsible adult can get to. Little fingers, claws, paws, talons and beaks should not be able to get access to any poison.

Snail Poison can be found in most households on the coast, most of us have gardens and many of us try to pretend to be gardeners…some even do well. One of the undesired guests are snails and a common method of controlling snails is through poison.

These bright green pellets are easily sourced from hardware stores, supermarkets etc. A dose of 1 teaspoon per 4.5kg is classed as a lethal dose. That’s not a lot, even for a large dog that is quickly consumed.

Rat poison is also very similar to Snail poison in the frequency of use in a peri-urban environment such as the Central Coast and even into the sub-urban areas closer to Newcastle and Sydney.

It pays well to place a sign out when you are using these poisons in your front yard, so that pet owners can pay particular attention.

Unfortunately these can also be used by those who want to – for whatever reason – hurt our pets. Household poisons can be delivered in:

  • sausages,

  • sausage meat,

  • mince,

  • burger patties,

  • vegetables,

  • fruits, and

  • cheeses

Basically anything appetising enough and cheap enough to throw to the dogs.

1080 can also be used as a bait, despite solid policies, licensing and purchase procedures, where there is a will there is a way. 1080 is a little different in that it can be obtained in a pre-manufactured bait form, most likely it will be a meat or oat based package. Though in places like New Zealand they also process carrots to a 1080 bait product. Poisoning Paradise is a documentary that explores 1080 use across the Tasman. It’s worth a watch.

The best thing to do is to teach your dog to not pick up food when out in public, we will look at this next week.

In the meantime, be aware of what your dog is sniffing at, if the object of your dog’s noses investigation looks like it could be consumed, say no and pull them on. Take no other answer. In the spirit of the last couple of installments you now know why! It may seem cruel to pull your dog away while they are slobbering over a left over burger, but a quick review over recent animal attacks in the last couple of weeks will reveal a sobering reason to pull your dog out of harm’s way.

Now we will look at treats! Hooray! I hear you breathe a sigh of relief as we move away from the nasty and seedy side of dog feeding.

We have all used food with our dogs at some time and that dog has looked at the food, sniffed a hrrmph!, shaken their head and walked away. What a bummer! That stuff costs like $20 a kilo! The packaging says every dog loves it and you’re supposed to be going wild for it…but you don’t care.

No need to worry, let’s shed some light on this situation. When you are training your dog with food, it is best to do it when the dog is hungry. That means training right after a meal is not necessarily the best strategy.

Conversely training before a meal is a good strategy. The motivation for food is much greater prior to a meal than after, since prior to eating the dog is hungry and has not eaten for many hours.

The next big thing after timing the food is what to give them as a treat. Ultimately your dog will decide what they like best. I for example love dark chocolate, the bitter stuff. Many other prefer milk chocolate. It’s just a matter of preference.

To figure out what your dog likes most, lay out a bunch of different treats and note in which order the treats are eaten. If you have some consistency in the order you have found which ones your dog likes best. Most generally, the ones eaten first are the best ones.

Some common treats are:

  • Cheese

  • Cooked Chicken

  • Cooked liver

  • Dog Biscuits

  • Commercial dog treats

Now then, keep in mind what we have spoken about with baits. How do your treats measure up? Are you giving sausage meat for example? What is the next favourite treat? Can you still get good performance and results from your dog with something that is not like a bait item listed above? Can you also use something that is nutritious for your dog?

Giving your dog something as nutritiously deficient as a chocolate bar is to us is no major issue. As long as, just like us, it is done in moderation.

My Malamute, Koda, for example, goes nuts for Kibble. She is fed mostly natural products but kibble is something that she will really go for! So why change that, if I can use that to teach and to enhance her level of performance then why not.

My advice is to move away from Bait like treats and use something that is more akin to food they would get at home. Cooked liver, meat, poultry or fish is not a bad start.

Next thing is the serving size of a treat. Dogs do not tend to sit down and enjoy a treat like a fine wine. They don’t allow it to sit on the tongue and enjoy the various aromas and nuances on the pallet. No, the wolf down their food and look for the next one. You could say the act of consuming the treat is the reward, not the treat itself. That’s how fast a dog devours their treat.

So the treat need only be small. I suggest something that is about a quarter of the size of your thumbnail. To put that into perspective I have given you a picture of a chicken crimpy, many people would feed that as a treat, on that crimpy I have put a treat of cooked meat, notice the size difference.

This also allows you to get more repetitions out of training for the same buck.

Hang on for next week as we rap up our series on nutrition with some functional obedience – How to teach your dog to not eat of the street. See you then Barefoot Packers!

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