Dehydrated beef or chicken livers!

Made by companies like Beefeaters and Gimborn, these treats are lightweight, they contain no weird preservatives, and they're easy to break up into miniscule pieces. These are the food reinforcements I use when I train clients' dogs, no matter what skills or behavior modification we're after.
There are some important differences between food reinforcements and treats. Treats are things you give your dog because he's cute or because you love him. Treats are for fun. Food reinforcements are the paycheck your dog gets when he's learning something new. In order for a food reinforcement to be its most wonderfully effective, it has to meet a few criteria:
1- It has to be more delicious and impressive than any other food your dog gets, ever. Therefore, using a piece or two of his regular kibble doesn't really count.
2 - It has to be very small, about the size of a pea. Dogs are concrete thinkers who give new meaning to the term "living in the moment." If you ask your dog to sit for a particular hand signal, and he does, and you reward him with a big, chunky MilkBone biscuit, it is very possible, in fact, even likely, that by the time he's done chomping and swallowing and doing the "miniscule crumb scavenging" thing, he won't remember why he got the cookie in the first place. The payoff from the most effective food reinforcements should be instantaneous.
3 - Proper food reinforcements are used solely for training and conditioning. They are never "Freebies."

In my 8th grade history glass we had project one time that called for basically a reenactment of the old west. Each student was assigned a character and a job. The point of the whole thing was that someone was murdered and we had to put together clues to figure out who did the deed while staying in character the entire time.

I was assigned "the grey fox" an aging card shark always looking for the easy way around things. I was supposed to be clever and conniving, things I turned out to be particularly good at...

While playing my character I managed to steal one girls "gun" (a crude paper affair approximating a derringer) and placed it in the "bar" or cooler full of root beer. Upon opening the cooler for me to get a root beer I was buying the bartender noticed the "pistol" (which was daylgow green paper I might add) and said "what's this?" "Why that looks like Ms. Kitty's gun to me." At which point the bartender asked me to guard the "bar" while he stormed off to have a talk with Ms. Kitty. Needless to say I had a bit more root beer than I paid for.

I was wrongly accused of cheating at cards..ahem... and was put in jail. Within 5 minutes I had talked my way out of jail and had my accuser in my place.

I stole and countless poker chips to be sold to other people playing poker for information or more drink tickets for the "bar."

There are countless other examples of this that should have led me to a life of crime by this point in my life, but I'm sure your asking yourself "what does this have to do with dog snacks?"

Well let me tell you.

Part of my characters look was that "the fox" always had a cigar in his mouth. I had a decent looking out fit, some spray in grey hair dye but no cigars. Then it dawned on me while looking around the grocery store, some of those dog snacks resemble thin cigars. So I bought a pack and took it to school for the reenactment day. I opened the package threw it in the trash can and put the "cigars" in the inside pocket of my coat. As I was playing a card shark naturally I found myself at the poker table fairly often. Like any gentleman I of course gave a cigar when asked.

Here's where things go astray. I never really had beef jerky as a kid, the concept wasn't all that familiar to me outside of dried flat pieces of meat, I never cared much for slim-jims. I don't know what i was thinking handing those things out, I guess I just didn't think any thing of it, they were dog snacks, so?

At some point during the reenactment someone was throwing something away and saw that happy collie staring up at her from the empty package of Alpo treats sitting in the trash can. She of course put two and two together figured out why that bag was there.


About 60% of the class immediately started retching were they stood. Some made it to trash cans...and some didn't. Those who weren't gagging started yelling at me "why didn't you tell us they were dog food?" my response of course was "you didn't ask."

The teachers probably would have yelled at me except they were laughing so hard I doubt they could have gotten anything out that resembled human speech. I never got punished for it, frankly I still don't see what the big deal about it was, before they knew they were dog treats everyone seemed to be enjoying the meaty goodness just fine.

True story.

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