One of the things I like to do for my dogs is make their treats. I’ve always struggled with finding the right sized treats due to having smaller dogs. I was always cutting them down and chopping them up, and that was getting tedious. I ended up joining a group that was dedicated to dehydrating treats for their dogs and I was instantly hooked. A lot of the members of that group have dogs with allergies or are strict raw feeders so treats bought off the shelf of a pet shop were out of the question. The beauty of dehydrating your own treats is you can control exactly what goes into the treat, how you want it shaped and the process itself means you have something with a shelf life of several weeks plus it keeps more of its nutritional value than baked ones.
I started out just reading advice and taking inspiration from what others were making, then I started out with a starter model dehydrator. Andrew James dehydrators are a great brand to start with before thinking of investing in a more hardcore brand. I started with simple things at first, strips of chicken and liver. I am lucky to have a garage to let the thing run for 12 to 14 hours straight, because it stinks. You need a cast-iron stomach to deal with the smell of some of the things you dehydrate.
Once I had gotten the jist of it, I started to experiment with mixes and making them into different shapes, then moved onto using moulds to gain uniform sized treats. These end up being a nice high value type of reward to use as it’s just dried meat. I love to use these for scentwork as due to their lack of moisture there is less residue for dogs to scent on and track instead of the targeted scent. It takes a bit of time to prepare the treats and layer them in the dehydrator but then its just a question of checking them occasionally and rotating the shelves.
My latest batch has been a combination of turkey and sweet potato, tuna with beetroot and coconut flour, slices of pig kidney and chicken strips. I make sure to store them in airtight containers in a cool dark place. I usually do a batch every few weeks depending on what I am running low on. If you’re interested in learning more about making your own treats then feel free to ask, I have some recipes for baked homemade treats as well if you just want to use your oven!