I think I will forever be thought of as the “Liver Lady” and Wags’ Training Facility will be known (at least to the dogs) as the Place where the Best Cookies in Town can be found. 
So, what’s the Secret? What do I put into my training bag and what are the Magic Training treats?

I thought I would share in photos How some of the Amazing Treats are made that many students ask about and marvel over. 

First off – I make almost all of my training “cookies” at home, myself. And while I call them cookies, they are actually not cookies at all but more or less all MEAT. And that’s pretty well it – if there is a “Secret” – you just heard it, so you could stop right here ๐Ÿ™‚ Go get Meat! 
I feed my dogs a RAW diet and hand in hand with that seems to have developed a deep desire to really know  the ingredients in their food and treats – and so I’ve found that this just makes overall sense, as well as being Delicious and very High in value for the dogs.

Whenever possible I get my hands on organ meats and buy those to turn into cookies. Liver (in moderation), heart, kidney and tongue are fantastic and often found at very reasonable prices. Most dogs go absolutely nuts over any and all of these!

In the absence of organ meats – I look for sales in the meat department and have often found that you can get large beef roasts for as little as $8-$10. That’s about the same price that you would pay for a bag of commercially prepared treats – which are often full of all kinds of ingredients that you’d never want to put into your own body ๐Ÿ™ (so why feed that to our dogs?)
So here we go: here are illustrated steps for becoming a Cookie Factory ๐Ÿ™‚

This is Heart. By the time I thought of documenting the treat-making process , these pieces had already been through  stage 1: boiling on the stove in water.
And just to be clear – I do the same with a steak, with liver, kidney, tongue…boil first.
After the meat has boiled, I find it easiest to just take a pair of scissors and go to town: cut the  meat  straight onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Here we go now — a cookie sheet loaded with boiled meat: all cut up and ready to go into the oven to be dried up a bit more. You COULD stop at this stage and just use the treats like this…but they are quite wet and not particularly nice to put into pockets, so that’s the reason for continuing to the Oven stage ๐Ÿ™‚
Here the treats are: after the oven. See the difference? Now they are almost like Jerky, and most people have no issue with sticking these in their pockets.
More of the dried Jerky-type heart cookies. From here I use scissors to cut them even smaller. Green pea-size or just smaller is a good  size reference when you think of how big your Training treats should be.

So there we have it – turning a piece of Fresh meat into Amazing Dogs-Will-Love-Them “Cookies”! Really very easy! 

But WAIT – DON’T STOP THERE: Use the water you boiled the meat in!! This is amazing broth that I use for making Frozen Kongs.

While I just told you I feed my dogs RAW – I do usually have some high quality kibble around. I switch my own dogs to kibble for camping and travel, when having access to a fridge or freezer is very hard, so I do occasionally feed them kibble – and when I make treats (as above) I DO love utilizing that lovely broth that is left in the pot after boiling meat.

What happens while the broth is warm, is that when you pour kibble directly into it – the kibble just soaks up all the broth and completely falls apart – becoming almost a puree…which – when frozen, is a Very cool challenge for the dogs to extract!!!

After boiling your meat; pour kibble right into the broth that is in the pot and let sit  for a few hours.  The  kibble soaks up all the liquid. I’ve added some oats, a few pieces of the Real meat and other things of “goodness” here as well.
Now – get your Kongs and other stuffable food toys out and ready!
To the left are veggie and fruit mash/mix that normally would be mixed into my dogs’ regular meals. This time I decided to add some of it to the kibble-mix that was going into the Kongs.

And VOILA! A collection of food-stuffed Kongs and Busy Buddy-toys ready for the freezer ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes, from here I take this whole pile of Kongs – throw them into a grocery bag to keep the freezer clean and just toss the whole plastic bag in the deep freezer. Then, the next time you want to give your dog “something to do” for a while – pull out a frozen meal: serve frozen! A fantastic thing to have on hand for days when you simply want to keep your dog occupied. 

Easy peasy?! 
Perhaps it goes without saying, but obviously if you haven’t taught your dog to eat his meals from food-toys – you need to start with that first BEFORE you start freezing them! If your dog isn’t already hooked on the idea of eating his regular food from a food toy like these – it will likely just be very frustrating to him if his food is now also frozen. So – in that case – start with the unfrozen version and just GRADUALLY make the challenge of getting the food out a bit harder! 

Once they are hooked on the idea, though – WOW – is this ever a fun way to serve a meal and a great, great way to keep your dog happily chewing for quite an extended time – as well as send your dog back into his natural roots and origin as a Master Scavenger and Extractor extraordinaire!!

Have FUN with your Treat Factory!!

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