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Cheap treats your dog will love

I always thought that rice cakes were about as appealing as Styrofoam discs.

Turns out, dogs love them!
Halo Liv-a-Little Chicken Treats
Halo Liv-a-Little Chicken Treats

I buy the plain unsalted (or even lightly salted) rice cakes and then break them up into little pieces to use as rewards and treats. I mix and match a batch of rice cakes interspersed with something more tasty and nutritious (like Halo Liv-a-Little freeze-dried salmon or chicken or The Honest Kitchen’s new delightful freeze dried Nice Mussels) and keep them together in one treat jar. It imparts some of the flavor of the high-quality treats to the rice cake bits, and when I dip my hand in the jar, Wanda and Maisie know they’ve got something good coming. They actually don’t know “how good” and science has shown that intermittent rewards (sometimes you hit the jackpot, sometimes you get nothing) is the best way to encourage learning and obedience, but also not knowing how good the treat will be is also very reinforcing.

If your dog is on a diet (most of us struggle to keep the extra pounds off our pets, as well as ourselves because staying lean is the key to longevity and health) rice cakes make a great snack without adding “costly” calories.

Save the high value treats (a piece of cheese, meat or freeze-dried protein treats) for when you really need to reinforce a great response to a command.

You can offer a crunchy chunk of rice cake for those “gotta have something” moments and not feel guilty about wight gain. Amazing how that bit of air-filled rice cake can be a happy snack. There’s nothing like the sound an eager puppy makes while she’s crunching. And then the smile on her face when she comes from away when you call her and she gets the lovely surprise of a piece of real nutritious protein!

—Tracie Hotchner

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