When you first bring home your puppy, it is natural to bond with it by giving the puppy treats. However, this is not a good idea.
Typically, you should wait until the puppy is two-months-old before you begin to give your puppy treats. You may begin at six-weeks, but it is better to wait for the extra two weeks.
Ideally, your puppy should have had her first vaccinations at 8 weeks, and that might be a good occasion to introduce limited treats to make the vaccination less of an ordeal.
What Age Can I Give My Puppy Treats?
The first few weeks of a dog’s life is when his General Intestinal Tract is undergoing a lot of changes. The puppy has to adapt during weaning and, for a while, really needs a diet that provides the nutrients that he requires in each mouthful of food. Giving the puppy “treats” will provide more calories than the puppy needs but provide fewer vitamins. At somewhere between 9 and 10 weeks, you can be freer with treats, although they should always be just that, a treat that is not a regular occurrence.
If you purchase puppy treats from a store, it is important to examine the label to check for ingredients carefully. Maybe your dog has allergies, so check if any particular treat has links with any response in your puppy.
Do not ignore the calories in the dog treat. Keep treats to a minimum to stop your dog from gaining excess weight. A treat will typically have a calorie value that far outweighs the benefits that normal food will supply. We tend to feed our puppies a given amount of food based on their weight. This is designed to provide the puppy with the right amount of calories. If we then add to that an excessive amount of treats, we are increasing the calories consumed in a day, leading to the puppy becoming overweight.
Your puppy should have a designated bowl for food and another one for water. The bowls should be clean. It is not a good idea to place treats in the food bowl as your dog will see it as just a particularly nice kind of food and will not understand that it is a reward. This means that there is no training benefit, and you are simply replacing nutritious food with less nutritious treats.
There is a rule which is very useful for working out if you are giving too many treats. The 10% Rule states that the maximum calorific value of treats should never exceed 10% of the total diet. So if your dog has a recommended diet of 400 Calories, then the maximum calorific value of treats should not exceed 40 calories.
Do not give your puppy human food, especially junk food, as treats. Just as junk food makes humans fat, it will do the same with puppies.
Certainly, NEVER give your dog Chocolate or food with chocolate in it. Chocolate is very bad for dogs and can potentially be fatal.
Treats as a Training Aid
Treats can be a useful aid to training. A treat should be given at the same time as praise. In this way, the dog will begin to associate a treat with doing something good. Hopefully, dogs will understand that doing a good thing means they get both a treat and praise. If you hand out treats at random times, this becomes totally confusing for the dog as you have broken that connection in their heads. Make your puppy earn treats by doing something you want.
Never give a puppy a treat if it is excited and jumping up at you. If you do, you are simply re-enforcing that behavior. A puppy jumping up at you may be cute, but a fully grown dog doing the same is far less pleasant.
What are Good Puppy Treats?
There are many different treats for puppies available through pet stores. These are fine; ensure you read the label and check for unwelcome additives. Alternatively, some natural products are just as good for your puppy as they are for you. This list was provided by a veterinary hospital and is full of healthy items that you may already have in your home.
A small piece of apple is great for young dogs. Do not give a whole apple, just a small chunk (not the pips or the core). They are full of nutrients and fiber.
Small chunks of carrot are full of vitamins and nutrients. As with apples, make sure they are cut into small chunks if the puppy swallows them whole.
This can be raw or cooked. Just as we have an easier time eating cooked veg, it is the same with your puppy. Broccoli has known health effects. Just remember, do not season them.
Lots of vitamin C but also sugars. These are great treats but do not overdo them because of the sugar content. Dogs will love them.
Most dogs love being given a couple of peas as a treat. They can be frozen or fresh, They are very convenient training aids, and you can take a bag in your pockets when you go out with your dog.
These natural foods make healthy treats for your dog that provide vitamins and add to your dog’s diet. They are all foods that you may have in your house already, so they are very convenient.
Some Things You Must Avoid
Just as the above fruits are things that you may have in your house that are good for your dog, there are some potential threats that you should definitely avoid.
Grapes and Raisins
Grapes and raisins must never be given to a dog. I know they enjoy throwing them around and playing with them and eating them, but they can cause renal failure.
Onions, Garlic and Leeks
These are mildly toxic to pets. Some dogs’ breeds will suffer more than others if they eat these, and it may be a few days before problems show. Best not to risk it and avoid these as snacks/treats.
Xylitol is a sweetener used in a variety of products. Often found in low-calorie peanut butter and toothpaste. This is highly toxic and should never be given to your dog or puppy in any dog treat. The big risk here is some people fill Kongs with peanut butter so check it is not sugar-free.
I mentioned already that chocolate should never be given to dogs. It is worth mentioning that you should also make sure you do not leave it lying around where a dog can find and steal it.
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