Using a dog training trail mix allows a trainer to offer a variety of high value and low value treats during training sessions. This keeps a dog’s attention better than using only one type of treat. Furthermore, a dog training trail mix provides a wider balance of nutrients, which is important for young Service Dogs in Training because they often get the majority of their calories via training sessions.
Dog training trail mixes supercharge training sessions by acting like a lottery — is the next treat delivered going to be the most epic on the planet or is it only a piece of kibble? Your dog continues to work because not only do they want the treat, but they’re holding out for the best treats possible. This also keeps your dog from working for only one type of reward. Additionally, it allows the trainer to include nutritious food such as kibble, freeze-dried raw, or other high-quality foods.
Another great benefit of dog trail mixes uses a dog’s nose to up the value of everything included in the mix. Kibble is pretty boring and dogs see it all the time in routine meals. However, if you include kibble in a training trail mix with hot dog slices, freeze-dried liver, and cheese chunks, all of a sudden, kibble carries more value. Your high value, and often more expensive, treats go further when combined with lower value options.
Rewards to Include In a Dog Training Trail Mix
When making a dog training trail mix, you’ll want to include treats your dog likes. However, you’ll also want to make sure all the included treats store well, aren’t super messy, and will still be useable after a few days in a treat pouch or canister. Most trainers incorporate a balanced blend of high value and low-value dog treats in their trail mixes. Low-value treats are usually crunchy, with minimal stinkiness, and they aren’t very interesting. High value treats usually are soft, smelly bits of yumminess your dog doesn’t see or get often.
Included treats should be bite-sized, about the size of a piece of kibble. Smaller dogs need smaller treats. Bigger dogs can manage bigger treats, but there’s nothing wrong with using smaller ones for them, too! If you’re using your dog’s meals for training sessions, try to ensure included rewards are nutritionally balanced. Using high-value food-based elements like Ziwipeaks air dried, Wellness CORE tender bites, Zukes mini naturals, Bixbi Rawbble, and dog food rolls allow you to do this easily and well.
Using whole foods like hot dog slices, diced cheese chunks, steak, chicken, or other yummy foods can also up the nutritional value of the trail mix. However, consider baking, freeze-drying, or otherwise removing the moisture from whole foods so they don’t turn your trail mix into a slimy, gross mess while it’s being stored.
Dog Training Trail Mix Supplies
- Airtight Storage Container (Our favorite is the Rubbermaid Brilliance)
- Cutting Board
- High Value Treats – dog food rolls, freeze-dried liver, cheese, hot dogs, dehydrated raw, dried cat food, etc.
- Low Value Treats – kibble, Charley bears, crunchy biscuits, homemade treats, etc.
Putting Your Trail Mix Together
Assemble your dry ingredients. If you’re using kibble as a base, measure that out first. Using an airtight container lets you store the trail mix for longer periods. Use your dog’s normal meals as a baseline. Include enough kibble for an entire day of meals. Next, add the other easily measurable items — crunchy biscuits, a quarter cup of cat food, freeze-dried or air-dried treats, etc. Remember, less can be more when it comes to these elements. You don’t want them to overwhelm the kibble but you want enough to create variety.
Next, prepare the ingredients that require cutting. Diced cheese, hot dogs, and dog food rolls are industry-standard favorites. For hot dogs, bake them in the oven to remove the gross factor. Dice cheese or dog food rolls up using our simple instructions to ensure the treats end up the right size for your dog. Harder cheeses dice easier and will keep longer without needing refrigeration.
Throw everything into your airtight container and shake it to evenly distribute the mix. Fill your training pouch or carry the container around with you during training sessions. Make sure you’re including the rest of the trail mix in your dog’s daily calorie count so they don’t get too much food!