Like most people, I don't want to spend a fortune on training treats to work with my SideKick, Ruby. Of course, if not purchasing treats, the other option is making them myself. I'm not opposed to DIY projects; I'm perfectly happy - especially if it helps me to save a few dollars - to make or bake things myself; but the decision to dip my toe in DIY training treats felt a little intimidating when I discovered dozens of recipes and options online...
On top of the mixed reviews that came with each recipe I looked into, I have a few requirements of my own:
I like and need small, pea-sized treats for training, so they can be eaten quickly and I can give lots of them to my SideKick.
The treats need to be stinky and smelly to be attractive to my Ruby and, therefore, useful to us in a variety of training situations.
The easier it is to make the treats, the better; I don't have the time or the desire to spend an entire day baking and cutting hundreds of treats.
Each of these considerations in mind, the right Goldilocks solution seemed like it would be difficult to conjure.
This is about when I stumbled on a silicone baking mat, often called a pyramid pan! A baking mat like this - when flipped over - has over 550 small depressions in it (thankfully, someone else counted for us)! Using this baking mat/mold, it's easy to make and bake thousands of treats (that meet the requirements I listed above) in a super short amount of time!
To demonstrate, again, how easy and quick it is with the pyramid pan, I made some treats yesterday for this post! Below is the recipe that I've used and played around with:
DIY Pyramid Pan Training Treats
2 5-oz cans of tuna (including liquid) 2 eggs 1 cup tapioca flour 1/2 cup flour 2 tablespoon oil
Any desired herbs, spices
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Blend all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor.
Slowly add water to make it about the consistency of pancake batter.
Pour batter onto the pyramid pan (on a cookie sheet for stability). Spread the batter out over the pyramid pan and clean the dividers.
Bake the treats in the oven for 15 - 20 minutes (depending on your oven and the texture of treat you prefer).
When the pyramid pan has cooled enough, flip it over and dump the treats out!
This recipe gives me about 2 and a half pyramid pans of treats, which is roughly 1,300 treats!
You can use whatever stinky base you'd like - tuna, salmon, chicken, mackerel, liver, baby food, wet dog food, etc.
The flour you use is also up to you; I like to use the tapioca flour because it gives the treats a bit of that gummy texture and avoids a crumbly, crummy mess at the bottom of the treat pouch or container. I've not used almond or coconut flour, but I've read that the flour amount should be decreased for those two options.
Once cool, I like to freeze most of the treats in an air-tight container and refrigerate a small portion (the treats I would likely use over the next week or so).
Don't be afraid to include some herbs and spices for some added interest for your SideKick (avoid garlic, onion, and spicy, though)! To the batch that is pictured in this post, I added some parsley and ginger.
The recipe is pretty simple; the ingredients are pretty flexible to your preferences, what your SideKick likes, and what you happen to have in your cabinet; and within an hour, you could have thousands of training treats! Experiment and have fun!
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