I use all kinds of unusual flavored high end dog treats for training. Buddy Biscuits are a favorite and I rotate flavors. I think rotating the treats has been a key for us. We go through so many my dog gets tired of the same ones.
For dog shows it's cheese and hot dogs. And if I am doing a 2 day show - one day it's cheese and one day it's hot dogs - just to change it up a bit.
Freeze dried meats/organs work best for my for my low drive, not that food motivated dog. They are healthy (no chemicals), easy to break into small chunks, just smelly enough to get the dog excited without stinking, and not messy at all. You can get freeze dried chicken and liver at the pet store, but the best motivators are freeze dried salmon and freeze dried lung. Those you have to order online. Freeze dried (or even better fresh) tripe is his absolute favorite, but it stinks horribly. Whatever you choose, switch it up between training sessions so it doesn't get boring. Save the REALLY good stuff for when you need your dogs full and complete attention.
Then there's my lab. She'll practically turn inside out to get ANY type of food. I've used apples, cheerios, and kibble with just as much success as fresh tripe. If there's a small chance it could possibly be slightly edible, she wants it bad enough to do anything I ask
Hotdogs, liver, filet mignon - although I tried to bait my dog two days in a row with filet and he turned his nose up at it. Someone gave me a Pupperoni stick and he went nuts over it. Next day, he wouldn't touch it. Stupid dog.
So if you've got a dog that's not very food motivated, mix the treats up a lot.
This dog is pretty food motivated, but when another dog is acting a fool in his general vicinity, I need something SUPER exciting to get his attention on me and not the hooligan bouncing around across the street.
Microwaving the hotdogs is a good idea; their sliminess was a huge turnoff for me when we tried them first.
Tiny cheese cubes might work out as well, and god knows that dog loves him some cheese. Give him some cheese on a stick (Easy Cheese on a tongue depressor) and he won't even notice that shot.
Last edited by onelanerode; Sep. 20, 2012 at 03:49 PM.
We usually use either string cheese or hotdogs - the string cheese is great for taking on walks if you don't unwrap the entire piece of cheese - just open the very top and pinch off little pieces as you need it - then you can keep it in your pocket without getting it everywhere!
When I competed my last dog, I used to cook chicken breasts for him and rip them into little pieces. I also froze peanut butter in small ice cube trays for him. When we did the CDX, I used Cheetos! And freeze-dried organ meat, which was suggested upthread, works REALLY well for a lot of dogs.
Looking back... yeah, I was that dog's beeeeee-otch.
With my dog now, I use freeze-dried organ meat (usually liver), small pretzels (like the sourdough "nugget" type you can buy in a grocery store), and these "PB-nana" training treats I buy at PetsMart (I think they are made by Bill-Jac).
Yes, this is coming from someone who gave her medium pony an entire can of Coke before the division haha.
Each dog is an individual so you just have to experiment. My "oh so not food motiviated" shepherd actually loves Oscar Meyer Weiners, especially the ones with cheese in the center. He totally ignores other hot dogs. Go figure. It was the only thing that got us through his reactive dog class to work on his dog agression.
I've had good luck with mixing in 'lighter' treats like doggy cheezeits with the cooked chicken breast pieces into the same baggy. It kept them guessing and helped oomf up the value of the cheese treats. As others have said, mixing it up is really helpful to keeping their attention, except, as big Grey hunter said, when you're dealing with a labrador... all I have to do is act like i have something possibly, maybe, technically, edible and she's all over it!
For the agility classes we took, we found the key was something that was easily chewed and swallowed by the dog, with a minimal crumble factor (so they weren't too obsessed with the ground if some dropped). Chicken plus a bit of hunger in their tummies worked well!
I like string cheese if I'm not using bil-jac or other premade soft treats. If I'm not carrying it around in my pocket or a bait bag, I like the Kraft processed cheese food slices. My dogs have a sixth sense for individually wrapped cheese--they hear the wrapper from a sound sleep across the house.
Zukes for everyday. Jolly Rancher jelly beans for those EXTRA-special times. (Yeah, my dog is weird. And an ACD on a sugar high is not for the faint of heart. But he loooooooooves jelly beans beyond anything else he's ever been given. Or stolen.)
meatballs, buy them in bulk in the frozen section of the local grocery store. I mix it up with turkey and regular flavors. I will either cut them up into tiny pea sz bites and bag that or just hold a meatball in one hand and pull little bits off to treat.
Hot dogs, cut up.
Tuna fish, canned
chicken, cooked then refrigerated then cut into tiny pea size bits and bagged
blue cheeze crumbles.
dehydrayed apple bits (found in toddler section of grocery store)