Treat? (Good - Bad & Lovely)
Simply uttering the "T-word" will elicit adorable head-tilting attention from most pups.
Treats are Useful:
Rewards during training sessions or reinforcement of learned behaviors. Treats provide an immediate incentive for dogs to learn and perform desired actions.
Tools to focus attention: treats can be used to immediately grab your dog's attention. Furthermore treats can be used to maintain mental stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behaviors. EX: Puzzle toys or treat-dispensing devices.
Extra Nutrients: High-quality treats provide additional nutrition to complement your dog's diet. Nutrients: vitamins, minerals, or oil.
Dental Health: Treats with textures that help plaque and tartar reduce the risk of dental issues like gum disease and bad breath.
Distraction & Anxiety Relief: During anxiety inducing events (thunderstorms, fireworks), treats can be used as a distraction or to provide comfort.
Bonding & Affection: The act of offering treats displays your care and affection. The surprise treat incentives your pup to stay close and listen closely for commands.
Treats are Dangerous:
Over-Treating: Being too liberal with the treats can lead to weight gain and obesity. "One more treat" can be a slippery slope that leads to diabetes; sight and hearing issues; hip and joint issues; ligament and reconstructive surgery (especially in larger breeds).
Nutritional Imbalance: Some treats may be high in unhealthy ingredients (sugars, additives, /fillers). Even a moderate amount of treats may unintentionally replace a portion of your Pup's regular diet/appetite, leading to irregularities in diet (not eating their dog food) &/ nutritional imbalance.
Allergic Reactions: Certain dogs may have food allergies or sensitivities to specific ingredients commonly found in treats, such as grains, dairy, or certain meats. In general chicken & turkey should be avoided as many instances of allergic reactions (digestive/skin) are linked to these ingredients.
Reinforce Undesirable Behaviors: Treats can inadvertently reinforce unwanted behaviors.
Dependency: Dogs may only respond to commands when treats are present.
Dental Issues: While some treats are designed to promote dental health, others may be too hard or have a sticky consistency that damage teeth or contribute to decay.
Ruby Recommends: (Ruby has long been an advocate for the distribution of TREATS!)
High-quality treats from wholesome ingredients, used purposefully as part of a well-balanced diet.
Salmon Skins: Flavorsome with nutritious fats
Mint Bones: Dental stimulation and sanitation
Bene Bone: Dental stimulation and sanitation
Peanut Butter: High Calorie Flavorsome treat (little portion - lotta air-licks)
Skyr/Yogurt: High in protein - contains dairy
GOLDEN TIMES: Purposeful
I believe treats can be powerful and therefore should be used purposefully: introductions, training, & play.
As pet owners, we often bear the burden of knowing how little time we have left together. One fortunate consolation for those sorry times is the loosening of the treat "purse-strings." I urge all pet owners in the twilight of their relationship to not only reward treats liberally, but really make events of it! Experience everything you can with your Pup while you are together.
Remember your purpose in those times is to repay all the kindness and calmness your pup has given you and your family throughout its life.