We began making these treats out of necessity. We have four dogs. Two-mixed breed. Two purebred. All rescued. They arrived from a variable mixture of different situations, with different unwanted behaviors, different anxieties, dietary needs and quirks.
The only way to keep them all motivated, pacified, distracted and calm was an abundance of things to keep them busy. They love bully sticks. They go crazy for salmon skins and green tripe sticks.
Raw bones are a gift from Mother Nature.
Unfortunately, these treats are expensive when feeding four of them at a time and they always made the floor and dog beds smell bad.
So I became the expert on using food toys. I filled toys up by the dozens. It was a considerable time commitment each day. I had to get the peanut butter, yogurt and cheese out, stuff each one with a spatula, freeze the kongs, and then clean up the counter. I wasn’t thrilled about them having that much cheese or peanut butter in their diet. If I didn’t make the toys hard enough, they took only seconds to eat the centers out. If I made them too hard, they gave up and I had sticky substance all over my floors, rotting for hours. They were also impossible to clean entirely, I always found residue inside the food toys where their tongues couldn’t quite reach. Not to mention, they took up a ton of space in my freezer, because I had to fill the kongs before I could freeze the insides.
I found a tutorial online about making frozen treats in ice cube trays to expedite the process. But the ice cube shape was still difficult, the plastic trays made it hard to pop them out and they made my freezer messy to make them. So I did what any desperate dog mom would do and ordered a custom tray mold.
The new tray came and I was in heaven. I could make healthy treats out of ingredients that added properly to their diet, instead of just adding peanut butter and cheese. I could freeze the treats first and then just pop them into the toys. That meant, I had a lot of extra freezer space since the toys could be stored anywhere until I needed them.
So I bought more molds and I bought more toys and I gave them to my foster dogs and my client’s dogs. I gave them to my neighbor’s dog who wouldn’t stop barking and my grandmas dog who was allergic to almost everything. I bought another mold for smaller dogs.
I experimented with the shapes and sizes of the treats. How I layered them into the toys to create different puzzles. The ingredients and the herbs I added. How they worked in each training situation.
All of a sudden, caring for three dogs under the age of 3 and a 12 year old senior dog didn’t seem as hard. They all looked forward to the routine of their toys everyday. It took me less than a minute to fill up a dozen food toys. The process and the routine helped greatly. I saved money and they ate healthier and got their supplements.
Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA)
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)