Last night after our adolescent class, Amanda, better known as Alice’s handler, brought out some baked goods to share with us humans. Holy Yum Fest!This little glass container held the most perfect, beautiful, and tantalizing treats. This recipe must be similar to what she made, Pistachio Lemon Cream Macarons.
Just looking at these macarons you could tell that these were not a whip up some cookies in the kitchen kind of treat. These were special, and had to be crazy time consuming to make. Biting into these little layered gems made us all giggle with delight, literally. All of us standing in the office while the puppies were rolling around with each other, giggling and eating the most delicious treat I think I have ever had. The melt in your mouth delicate texture, the blend of flavors, all of it, amazing.
This morning it made me think about our class dogs and the conversations we have about value in a reward. Whether it is a toy or food, there is always levels in value, from the dogs perspective. For example, I would not get out of my chair if store bought cookies were placed on a table, I would however, do freaking back flips for Amanda’s macarons! My dogs would go to the moon for their favorite toys, they however wouldn’t acknowledge a store bought dog treat. Is this making sense?
What if every once in awhile our dogs had something so amazing, as a reward, that it left a huge impression, like the macarons did for me? A difficult recall through big distractions, and meatballs rain from the sky! A complex trick sequence and buffalo brownies appear! A new Zisc toy while introducing treibball skills? A new squeaker ball to speed up weave pole performance? Fish fudge for awesome settle in a public location?
So in honor of food that ignites all of the senses in the best kind of way, here are our favorite recipes for making home made dog treats. These aren’t mine, or anybody else’s really. They have been passed around over the years, circulated through training circles, tested at agility trials, etc. Change them anyway you like to suit your dogs needs, these recipes are simply guidelines. Change things up if you want, substitute different meats, and have fun. NOTE – when using salmon cook thoroughly, raw salmon is poisonous to dogs.
LIVER BISCOTTI (twice baked cookies)
1 pound liver, cooked and chopped (bear, beef, chicken, venison, bison… whatever you have on hand)
1/2 T baking soda
3 C flour ( rice, oat, wheat)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 C Milk
Optional – chopped parsley, shredded cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees, baking stone is awesome, if not than a lightly greased sheet. Combine dry ingredients and stir until well mixed. Combine liver and milk to dry mix and knead until all ingredients are well mixed. Gross but totally worth it! Form dough into flat logs about 6 inches wide and 1 inch high. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes then cut logs into 1 inch slices. Place slices on cookie sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes longer until the slices are as dry and crunchy.
Cool and refrigerate. Awesome dry training treats! NOTE – these look like biscotti we would eat, you might want to label the bag clearly so you don’t hear a scream from someone who just dunked one in their coffee thinking it was going to be some fabulous nut dessert biscotti.
1 pound buffalo
1 ½ – 2 cups flour (wheat, oat or rice)
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
Optional-minced parsley, shredded carrots. Our hunters will also substitute the meat source: bear liver, elk, venison, prong horn, goat, etc. You don’t want to use a fatty meat like beef. These should be kind of dry and not greasy at all.
Mix together and pat into a lightly greased pan 9 X 13. Bake at 300 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly brown on top. Remove from oven and cut into small squares, let stand 5 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely. Place three to four squares per baggie, put in freezer until ready for use. They hold up well for training treats, are low fat, and dogs love them! Its’ basically meat loaf without all fo the fancy stuff like onions, salt, tomatoes, etc.
2 cans salmon (or the equivalent in fresh) drained
1/2 C flour (oat, wheat or rice)
1/2 C shredded cheese (parmesian or another hard cheese is awesome (low salt), but anything will do that you have on hand. We have found Swiss cheese makes dogs super gassy!)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream together all ingredients. Press dough out flat on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes or until edges are lightly brown. Let cool, cut into squares. Place in baggies in fridge or freezer for training treat use. These are so deliciously stinky that they are a winner with dogs who are easily distracted by an environment. Great when back country hiking, at an agility trial, or working in a public environment that is stimulating.
WHIRLING LIVER MUFFINS
1 pound of chicken/beef/goose/bear/venison livers (whatever you have)
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup water
1 or more cloves of garlic (not too much)
2 cups flour (oat, rice, wheat)
Optional -minced parsley, shredded carrots, bacon bits, grated cheese.
Place liver, oil, water, garlic and any other optional ingredients in a blender and whirl. Personally this gags me. Whirling liver in the early morning hours just about sends me over the edge. Most of the time I leave making these treats up to my husband. Pour the whirled mixture into a bowl, add flour until you have a stiff but sticky batter. Pour into greased muffin pans about 3/4 full. Mini muffin pans make the most perfect size muffin to carry in your pocket, just sayin! Bake at 350 degrees until spongy on top and lightly brown around edges. Remove from pan and let cool completely. Store in baggies int he freezer.
Food for the soul! Nancy