The ultimate guide to picking the right treat for your dog.

You want to spoil your pup but standing in the isles of the pet shop or, even worse, looking at pictures online it can be an utter nightmare to try and find one that suits them.  Will it be too difficult to eat? Will it be a complete waste of money when they smash through it in record time?

I know that feeling all too well; friends had recommended the Yaker chew so I’d stood in the shop deliberating for aaaages (have you SEEN the price of those things?!). In the end, I swallowed my worries, reminded myself I love him and dusted off the ol’ debit card.  I took it home, ever so excited to see it get to the ‘microwave’ stage and proud as punch handed it to Bob for review.  He smashed it. Literally less than 7 minutes and it was gone.  100% gone. I reckon that baby cost more than £1/minute.

Hi mummy!

Every dog is totally different and those of you with power chewers will know my pain well. I can’t promise to help you completely avoid disasters, but I can help guide you on your way to picking a good starting point.

I’ve split our pups up into ‘types’ of chewers here and offered 3 suggestions for each one.

  • Light chewers – I’m taking about our usually little, very cute, often fluffies here; the Chihuahua’s, Daschunds and Yorkie’s for example. Often our golden oldies can fall into this category as well as our teeth start to fall out and our gums start to ache.
    • Beef Udder; simply irresistible to the vast majority of dogs I’ve given it to, this comes in strips and has a sort of springy, bendy texture to it. It doesn’t put much fight up when it’s nibbled on and it lends itself really well to being ‘gummed’ to death!
    • Sprats; oh my days is there anything cuter than the way a diddy dog takes a sprat off you to take away and enjoy?! These little fishes are inhaled by big dogs but they’re treasured by our little pals.  Full of brilliant fish oils they have a ton of health benefits for glossy coats, clever brains and supple joints.
    • Kongs. This suggestion will fall into literally every category; there is no doggy on this planet I don’t think can benefit from an appropriately stuffed Kong. Get the correct size for your dog (they do senior ones which are softer for our older pals) and stuff it with soft treats which are easy to lick out. I’m talking mashed up sardines, peanut butter or yoghurt with berries. They’ll be busy for ages, happily licking away!
Dasha takes her time with sprats… what a super treat!
  • Medium chewers – I’m talking about our baby pups just starting out on their chewing journey, all our ‘oodle friends, our spaniels, our bichon’s, our terriers and our grey’s. The kind of doggy that really enjoys a nice chew on something but isn’t completely hell bent on destroying and achieving a personal best at the same time.
    • Beef tails; these babies are chewing heaven! They have the little tail bones still inside them so they put up a bit of a fight when they’re being chewed on, but they will give in after a while. The bones in these tails are non weight bearing which means they’re softer and because they’re air dried they aren’t brittle so they’re unlikely to cause any dramatic scenes in the vets.
    • Rabbits ears; by far and away one of the best treats I give to many of my ‘oodle friends, these guys are the perfect size for most dogs to get a hold of one end and gnaw away on the other. They start out tough, go soggy (and frankly kinda gross looking) with a bit of chewing, then they give in and get mushed to a pulp so they’re safe to swallow. Rabbits ears are naturally high in protein but low in fat, making them a brilliant treat.
    • Kongs; up your game for these guys. Get the right size Kong and stuff it with a layer of hard treats, a good smothering of a wet ‘licking’ style treat and then top off with either more hard treats or shove one longer treat right the way through the middle to cause a bit of a head scratching moment. An easy example is training treats at the bottom with sardines on top then a pure meat stick pushed through the sardines.
Algebra taking on the challenge of a beef tail!
  • Heavy chewers; I’m looking at my best mate here and all his Labrador pals, the Retrievers, the dotty Dalmatians, the GSD’s, the GSP’s, the standard Schnauzers and the big Terrier types. These guys are pro at getting that stuff out of your hand and into their belly.
    • Ears; the bigger the better!  The bit at the bottom where it was attached to the head is muscle and ligaments; these bits tend to be the starting point for most dogs (don’t ask why, perhaps it tastes best?!) and it snaps off a bit like crackling to be chomped up. Moving up to the tip of the ear, most of the ear is made of cartilage and is harder to chew; it takes a good bit of chomping to get it to go soggy and start bending before it can be broken off to eat. Many dogs are cool with Beef or Pork but these can cause yucky poops for others so start with Goats or Lambs ears as these tend to be better for sensitive tums.
    • Trachea; again, it’s mostly made up of cartilage so it takes a bit of getting through. The cheeky double win for trachea is the shape; if you’re lucky you can get a bit that’s a full circle still and you can stuff it a bit like a Kong too. Full of chondroitin and glucosamine, trachea is fantastic for supporting our dog’s joints and keeping them healthy.
    • Kongs; time to level up again. When I say stuff the Kong, what I mean is layer it and squish it down as though your life depended on it. I want that thing to be bursting at the seams! Got it? Good! Now freeze it. Mwah ha ha ha ha! Yup; freezing Kong’s takes them up a notch on the difficulty scale coz now they’ve got to lick it and warm it up to be able to get it to wiggle around and come out.  In all honesty; a well stuffed, frozen kong is by far and away the longest lasting treat you’ll get for these guys. Experiment, have fun and get your timer out!
Callie just adores a stinky beef ear!
  • Power chewers; you guys know exactly who you are. The bull breeds. The guys who laugh in the face of the Labrador’s efforts and leave them standing in the dust of their personal best. I’m talking about my Staffie pals, the Frenchies, the Bostons, the Rotties, the Mastifs and the Boxers.
    • Ears;  they won’t last as long as the labs, I know, but a decent sized dried out cows ear will still provide more of a challenge for these guys than you’d think. This lot get their rocks off on biting through things; that’s fun for them so let them enjoy crunching these ears for 20 minutes and they’ll get all the health benefits too.
    • Lickimat’s; our power chewers are beyond pro at grabbing stuff in their jaws and completely decimating it. Try switching up the challenge so rather than needing to chew to get the food in their belly, they need to lick to get the good stuff. Grab a lickimat and cover it with yoghurt, wet dog food or peanut butter and see what they think.  Some will take to it and love it (Boom! New toy!) and some will be more “uhhhh… this is not what I consider fun, ta. Moff to shred that new teddy”, but you’ll never know until you try!
    • Kongs; forget those poxy red things, you guys need the ‘pro level’ black ones. These are made out of a tougher material, and although your power chewer will have a good go at destroying it, they’ll put up a much tougher fight. If you’ve not done Kong’s before because you figured they wouldn’t last, start by filling it the same as the light chewers, then work your way through the levels until you’re at freezing stage.
Darwin is a complete pro at chews normally but this beef ear lasted him a solid 40 minutes according to mum!

I’m a big believer in helping each other out.  I’ve given you some ideas above, please use the comments to tell me about your dog; what breed are they? What kind of chewer are they? What’s their favourite treat?

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