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A little while ago I decided that our Jack Russell Milo would benefit from a playmate. Now, I'm not sure if he would have agreed with me back then because I am sure he was perfectly happy being top dog, but if I'm honest, I really wanted another puppy. It has been so much fun raising Milo, taking him to puppy school and watching him become a balanced, happy, well socialised dog and I wanted to do it all again. So, a few weeks ago we bought our little addition to the family home. Elsie is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, a sweet, chunky, mini bulldozer of a puppy with no sense of danger who adores her packmate Milo and follows him round the house, completely ignoring his grumbles. The couple who own Elsie's mum and dad had done a great job with her, she was paper-trained and knew the sit command when she came to us and we have enroled her into puppy school, which starts in a couple of weeks, but we wanted to teach her a few tricks ourselves so when I was at the vets I bought some of these training treats.
The treats come in small packets or larger tubs of 250g. I bought a tub for £3.49 which will last for ages as the treats are tiny. They are suitable for puppies aged 8 weeks and over and each treat has just one calorie which means that they can be given as a supplement to her normal food without me having to worry too much about her piling on the weight. As she is growing so fast at the moment, and is active during the day, I feel I can give these and not do any damage. Chicken flavoured and shaped like little hearts, Elsie loves them. They smell quite strong so I think they are packed with flavour for maximum appeal, but I can't vouch for the taste myself, although I have been known to taste some of my dogs treats, just out of curiosity! (Gravy bones definitely do not taste of gravy in my opinion)
I carry some of these Coachies with me in a sandwich bag when we go on walks and like Scooby Doo with Scooby Snacks, she will do just about anything for them. She never seems to tire of the taste and Milo likes them too so I think they have been a good buy and I will definitely be purchasing more.
Elsie is a very smart puppy so we have already mastered "paw" and "down" and I suspect she will ace puppy school, and thankfully Milo has bonded with her too so we are a happy household.
We were told the best way to train our puppy was to use treat training rather than any other methods, and especially those that inflict negative attitude towards the dog. I was a bit sceptical at first about feeding the dog too many treats and him becoming overweight. But he runs around so much, he burns it off and it really does help to increase the speed of training, the dog learns he/she will be rewarded for answering your commands.
What treats to use?
We choose Puppy Coachies, 1) They were on sale in Pets at Home (our local pet shop), 2) They are designed specifically for puppies from 8 weeks up, where as a lot of the other options were for 3 months up due to the content, which could possibly upset a puppy's tummy. 3) They are designed as training treats to run alongside meals. 4) They are quite small but big enough for a puppy to enjoy. 5) They are chicken and rabbit flavour and our puppy is every happy to have chicken (he's knows this flavour well).
These treats are also recommended by Dr Roger Mugford, who is a dog expert and has written many books about dog training and keeping dogs.
What is a Puppy Coachie?
They are all one colour, mustard is the best way to describe them. They are cut in to heart shapes (I don't know why) and they are about the size of your nail on your little finger. Fairly small, they do come in different widths but I think that is just the cutting machine. They are quite deep. The packet says they are chicken and rabbit flavour, to which you will have to trust them, as I can't say I've tried them. My dog however who is a major fan of food in general, particularly likes chicken and he scoffs these down.
The packet is red, foil and heat sealed. There is a picture of a puppy on the front. You can also buy adult dog Coachies that come in a blue foil wrapper. You can also buy the larger size which is the plastic transparent tub. Depending on the age is again dependant on the colour. The smaller 75 gram bag contains enough Coachies to last me and my puppy 4 days. (We do subsidise litter training with small pieces of chicken though).
Why use Treats at all?
Many vets and training schools suggest using treats is the best way to train a dog. I must say I'm not a fan of choke chains, water in the face and other physical methods. Although pushing a dogs bum down used to be an acceptable method of teaching sit, now hand movements with treats is the preferred and often preached method. We use these treats as they are specifically for puppies, so they are sensitive on their tummies and good for them.
These treats won't cost the earth, a small 75 gram packet will cost you between £1.20 - £1.50 depending on where you buy them. You can also buy large plastic tubs that hold approximately 300 grams and cost more.
Be careful when choosing any treats, make sure they are suitable for your dog and are not high in calories and fat as you don't want to make your dog overweight. Also be aware of checking the ingredients and food content before buying any treats. Often people say if you are feeding your dog dry food, use that as a treat, we are using semi wet though!