Here in Wisconsin, we've had a couple of frigid weeks; walks haven't been too common or have been kept super short to keep both canine and human safe. However, it's bound to warm up enough to get out of the house again soon - and, when that happens, let's be prepared!
Bringing treats on all your walks is definitely a way to be prepared - especially if you're working on specific training exercises or behaviors or you'd simply like to build more engagement with your dog on walks! "Always bring treats," is a recommendation I make regularly to my clients and classes, but, with the temperatures so cold, who would want to take their gloves off to feed treats to a slobbery mouth!?
Fortunately, there are options!
Embrace the generosity!
Gloves and training treats usually don't mix because it's hard to pick a couple small treats out of your pouch or pocket easily with chubby glove fingers; this means we end up giving out a bunch of treats - probably more than we mean to give or than we want to give.
BUT, what if we embrace the generosity? Accidentally giving out lots of treats means we're just rewarding what we like to see A LOT and, if that helps us get more of what we want to see on a walk...Why not?! I usually recommend making a treat trail mix in your pouch anyway, so, if you decide to embrace being generous, you can put a mix of a couple high-value treats (store-bought or homemade) and your dog's regular food in there for some variety!
Change Up the Treats
Instead of small training treats for your walks, consider some new treats (and, perhaps, a little unorthodox) that will be easier to grab and give out with gloves on:
Chex cereal (or any kind of cereal) - if your dog likes crunchy snacks like mine does, cereal could fit the bill for treats on a walk! Chex cereal, specifically, is one I've used with a client dog on walks (because she preferred that treats be dropped instead of hand fed) and they were easy to see, didn't bounce all over the place, and, of course, easy to pluck out of my pouch!
Cheez Its - a client, a couple Winters ago, almost sheepishly admitted to using Cheez Its on walks with her dog and I thought it was great! Not only did her dog LOVE them, but they were easy to see in the snow when dropped and easy to grab with gloves on! These or any snack item your dog is a fan of could be really helpful!
Fruits and veggies - some dogs are big fans of their fruits and veggies; these are often things that are already larger or can be cut to be larger and, therefore, easier to grab from your pouch or pocket! Frozen peas, carrots, berries, apples, whatever your dog likes (and is, of course, safe for dogs to have)!
Deli meat - the inexpensive, 1 pound bag/container of deli meat from the grocery store is all it would take and it's easy to keep a baggie in your pocket or pouch to tear off pieces as you go about your walk! I've had folks purchase and use a rotisserie chicken for this, as well! (Note: if you go with this route, I'd definitely keep your gloves out of reach after your walk or get them right in the wash because an enterprising doggo might sniff them out and decide to snack on the deli meat gloves).
Don't be afraid to think outside the box!
Alternatives to Treats
On top of the ideas above, you have other choices, as well, that are not the grab-and-chew variety of treats:
A stuffed Kong - filled with anything your dog might like to lick at!
A wooden spoon with peanut butter or squeeze cheese smeared on it (there's dog-specific squeeze cheese, but the regular, store-bought stuff is good, too)
A squeeze tube of peanut butter (I remember squeeze bottles of peanut butter and jelly when I was younger, but they're back!)
Some dogs are talented at nibbling on something (instead of trying to grab the whole thing), such as a stick of string cheese, meat stick, or chunk of summer sausage
A plastic bag with the corner cut off or a pastry (piping) bag filled with something good - someone once came to my classes with liver sausage in a baggie with the corner cut off!
Pouches of baby food are easy to find at any grocery store and online - there are even reusable pouches can be purchased and filled with concoctions you know your SideKick loves!
You can even create your own tube of tasty for your SideKick by filling a silicone travel shampoo tube (similar to this GoToob example)
There are a lot of things you can put in a Kong (or Kong-like stuffable) or baby food pouch or tube: Greek yogurt, peanut butter, wet dog food, canned pumpkin, applesauce, liver sausage, canned tuna, sweet potato, mashed potatoes, baby food (or anything you made into a baby food), etc.!
Keep in mind, each of the treat ideas above are examples of what you may use on your walks; I'm not suggesting that we give our SideKicks truckloads of any of them on a daily basis - that could easily be too much fat or too much sodium for your SideKick. However, if you feel that you're giving a lot of higher calorie / fat / sodium content foods out on your walks, cut back a bit on their regular meals or other treats they get throughout the day.
Like I said, don't be afraid to get creative! And feel free to share your ideas with me! I love to hear what everyone is using and likes!
Happy (Winter) training!