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As you know, I do a LOT of positive reinforcement dog training with Irie and Tiki. I really credit consistent, happy training with helping Irie to blossom from a fearful dog to one who enjoys traveling with us and experiencing new destinations. Irie is very treat-motivated and, with pet safety always in mind, I look for USA-made treats for her training and reinforcement.
I recently had the chance to try out Nudges® Premium Jerky Cuts, USA-made treats from Tyson Pet Products. Made in Independence, Iowa, the chicken, duck, and pork are sourced completely in the US; the beef is sourced in the US and Canada. All the treats are grain-free; the beef, duck and bacon varieties contain rice flour, but not gluten. The treats are free of fillers and contain no artificial flavors.
Nudges come in numerous varieties:
- Health and Wellness Chicken (a Walmart Exclusive in both bag sizes)
- Duck (a Walmart exclusives in the large bag size)
I decided to give the chicken and the beef varieties a try with Irie. The treats are smaller than a dollar bill, great for first getting her acquainted with this new yummy treat:
Once she was acquainted with the treat, it was time to get down to business. First, I cut a treat into small training treat size bits. I used kitchen shears but the treats could easily be cut with regular scissors (or torn with your hands, if you’re out in the field):
The chicken variety is a similar size and equally easy to cut into training treat-sized pieces:
Once you have the Nudges treats cut into training treats, it’s easy to use them in positive reinforcement training! In a nutshell, positive reinforcement training involves reinforcing those behaviors that you’d like to see again. That can be as simple as teaching your dog to sit or as complicated as training your dog to pick up all his toys and place them in a toy box at the end of the day.
Or positive reinforcement training can be used to reinforce good behaviors to help your dog overcome anxiety. For example, one of the worries that Irie once had concerned riding in the car. She became quite anxious getting in the car, hearing the car start, and riding in traffic.
To help her overcome that anxiety, years ago I used great, high value treats (ones reserved just for training time) to help her associate the car with good times! First, I just sat in the car with Irie, without the motor on, sitting and relaxing, treating as I saw her relax. It was like a nice little doggie picnic in the back of my Jeep.
We took baby steps along the way, repeating the process with treats to first start the engine and sit in the running car, treating as she relaxed. Eventually we moved into car rides, with me sitting in the back of the Jeep while John drove, treating Irie as she relaxed and enjoyed the ride.
Today Irie loves a car ride; just last week, we took the 4+ hour drive to Port Aransas, Texas for our little summer vacation. Irie enjoyed some great naps along the way as well as a picnic in Goliad State Park before we reached the beach. I think the years of positive reinforcement training have really helped her associate car rides–and many other previously scary things in life–with fun and good times. She’s gained confidence, and it gives us so much joy to see her enjoying life!
Please be sure to check out Nudges® in your local Walmart; these USA-made treats are budget-friendly…and they get a big paws up from Irie as well!
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