There's this thing with dogs - they like it a lot if you reward them for doing something good. I'm a huge stickler for making sure dogs get rewarded for doing good things - in fact, I find most people don't reward anywhere near enough for my liking.
Somehow people come to the conclusion that just because a dog has been sitting on command for 3 years now, you can't tell him he's a good boy for doing it today. We all know what that's like - we often experience it at work, it sucks, and we all know it. I'll never understand why we choose to be like that with our dogs.One very easy way to reward dogs is by giving them food. Most dogs are pretty big fans of food.
At dog shows we tend to use lots of food. There's lots of waiting and standing around and boredom at dog shows, but a handler has to keep the dog engaged and happy. Food is often good for achieving engaged and happy. Unfortunately, food often makes a mess in pockets. It'd greasy, slimy, crumbly and stinky. Some of it is in big pieces and hard to break, tear, or otherwise reduce in size and often if you do break it up it makes a mess.
There are some options out there that are less problematic, but they're also comprised of more "food-like products" that real food. I can't pronounce many of the ingredients, and if I can they are nondescript things like "meat meal" and "animal fat".
So, today, since my freezer is packed full of liver I need to do SOMETHING with - I decided to work on developing my own recipe. Believe it or not, my very first batch seems to be a winning combination.
Here's how I did it:
First, toss two cups of chicken livers into the food processor and give 'em hell. Make sure they're really well pureed.
|It might look like a strawberry smoothie, but it sure doesn't SMELL like one.|
Place a sheet of wax paper on a pan or baking stone and place all of the "batter" onto it. The stone I used is 14" in diameter. Place another sheet of wax paper on top of the goo and very gently roll it out between the two pieces of paper into a circle about 12" in diameter.
It is VERY important that you trim the wax paper to at least somewhat close to the edge of the mixture. (I just used the stone as a guide and trimmed along the edge) The one time I forgot to trim the paper, one corner that was hanging off did singe and make an awful smell.
Cook the mixture in a 300 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. At this point take it out, peal off the top layer of wax paper and place back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes. When the bread is done, all the pink color should be gone. (you can use a pizza cutter to slice down the middle and make sure it's cooked enough for your liking)
No matter how good it sounds at the time, letting the puppy lick out the food processor bowl is probably not the best idea you will have all day.
Once out of the oven, pick the cake of liverbread up by the paper and place it top-down on a board for cooling. After it has cooled a bit, peal off the other piece of wax paper. Use a pizza cutter to cut squares or whatever shape you like then allow the bread to fully cool. (Give the begging dogs a little just so they can make sure you didn't mess anything up)
These treats are NOT dry and hard. I want the treats to be soft and pliable. If you want them crunchy, you could cut them up and place them back in the oven to cook/dry out for a while.
Since there are no preservatives in these treats, you don't want to leave them out on the counter in large quantities. I suggest freezing them, then taking out a few at a time to thaw for training sessions.
Also, keep in mind that these are over 50% liver. This makes them very popular with the dogs, but pay attention to how much you're using. A bunch of these for a dog not used to them could cause an upset stomach. (this is partly why I don't use just straight dried liver)
I intend to try making these with rice flour next, but most of the rice flour I have access to is very grainy rather than very fine ground like the wheat flour. If you try this with rice flour, I'd love to hear how it turned out. :)