With International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day fast-approaching, how can we make sure our dogs enjoy their special day as much as possible?
While the origins of this festivity remain unclear, we know exactly how it should be celebrated – with a biccy!
Dog biscuits were first marketed in 1860 by an Ohio salesman by the name of James Pratt. In fact, one of the employees at Pratt’s London factory was Charles Cruft, the future founder of Cruft’s Dog Show.
While biscuits are widely recognised as a popular dog treat that always goes down well with our pooches, which brands do we favour?
Britain’s Favourite Dog Food Brands
1 – Pedigree
It’s official, Pedigree wears the crown as the leading dog food brand for British pooches! This famous company was first started by a small team of dog food makers under the name of the Chappell Brothers in 1930s Manchester. It didn’t take long for the product’s popularity to be recognised. The company was soon bought over by an American group called Mars, a huge corporation which also owns Cesar, Whiskas, Royal Canin and more!
2 – Bakers
Just falling short of first place is Bakers, a company that was first started by Edward Baker. Baker was a Suffolk businessman running a family flour company who sought to develop dog food that was nutritious as well as tasty.
3 – Tesco
In third is supermarket mogul, Tesco. Tesco has been making dog food for over 30 years and has become such a popular choice for paw parents that an increase in pet ownership during lockdown caused extreme shortages of their products as they could not keep up with the demand.
4 – Bonio
Squeezing into fourth place is the popular UK dog biscuit brand, Bonio. This company has been around since 1932 and operates from Liverpool. Bonio dog treats are crunchy, oven-baked biscuits that come in flavours such as original, chicken and meaty chip. There is also a high fibre option for the health-orientated pups!
5 – Winalot
And in fifth is Winalot. This brand of dog food was first used in 1927 and marketed towards racing greyhounds, hence the name! However, the brand quickly became popular with domestic canines and soon became a brand leader.
Pups in Training
Let’s be honest, obedience training can be very trying! Sometimes it feels hopeless, like the odds are against you and your pooch is destined to be an unruly pup.
To gain some insight into this testing part of puppy parenthood, Benchmark Kennels decided to reach out to the founder of Rebarkable and overall puppy expert, Ali Smith.
“Certain breeds are definitely easier to train, but there is no ‘disobedient’ breed. Just some who are bred to be independent and some who are bred to work closely with you.
“More biddable breeds include German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, toy poodles, border collies – essentially the breeds that are often deemed ‘smart’ breeds, and the more aloof or independent breeds like Huskies, Harriers, Shiba Inu, and a whole host of terriers are usually equally smart, it can just be more difficult to find their wavelength.”
Treats can provide the perfect reward and incentive for pups to follow commands. Creating this positive connection between food and obedience can speed up the training process massively.
However, some dogs are also more inclined to work for food than others, such as greedy labradors and pugs! These breeds happily see treats as their reward whereas working dogs such as spaniels, shepherds and collies might find a toy and a good game of tug and war more enticing. The key to the training process is finding what motivates your dog in particular.
Adapting Treats to Different Environments
The environment in which a dog is taught has a direct impact on their concentration levels and as a result, their ability to learn and absorb new tricks or habits. The Benchmark team contacted clinical Animal Behaviourist and fellow expert in all things dog, Rachel Rodgers, to expand on why certain treats are more effective in different environments.
“When teaching something new, or taking known tricks into an unfamiliar, distracting environment such as a park, we need to use higher value products such as meat-based treats. When in a familiar place like the home, lower value treats such as more traditional, shop-bought biscuits like milk and gravy bones can work well.”
While it may seem like treats are not compelling your dog like they should, it may be the case that what you are offering is simply not tempting enough to command your pooch’s attention, especially while they are in an interesting environment. It is a good idea to vary the treats that you give your pup to ensure that each remains interesting and does not lose its effect.
Common Fur-Parent Problems (and how to fix them)
Barking at the doorbell, begging at the dinner table, jumping up at guests – we’ve all been there! However, what often falls under the radar is how specific dog treats can be used to fix these behavioural issues.
While these issues can be frustrating, it is essential to consider why a dog might be acting in such a way. After ruling out potential causes of pain or fear, it is worth considering that your pooch is oblivious to the fact that they are doing anything wrong.
Rachel Rodgers explains:
“We should never punish a badly behaved dog because in the majority of situations, the reason that the dog is ‘badly behaved’ is that they have not been taught the right thing to do in the first place.
“Teaching an incompatible behaviour to the problem behaviour can be a great way to tackle common issues.
“If a dog is jumping up, scatter food on the floor: their nose will be down sniffing out treats which is incompatible with being up near someone’s face and jumping! They are also getting rewarded for keeping their 4 paws on the floor which over time will become their new behaviour. Dog barks at the postman? Teach them to lie quietly on the bed where they will get a tasty chew.”
While small, soft treats are perfect for training and teaching tricks as canines can eat them quickly, longer lasting treats such as biscuits can be ideal when teaching pooches to be calm around visitors. Giving a long-lasting biscuit or chew on their bed when people arrive can also help dogs learn to settle and relax in a set area rather than jumping all over guests. It is all about choosing the right kind of treat depending on the situation or environment.
However, if owners are really struggling with their pet’s behaviour, they should seek professional advice from an appropriately trained and accredited individual. The dog training and behaviour world in the UK and in many countries is unregulated meaning anyone can call themselves a trainer. They may not have the knowledge and experience required to help appropriately.
Whether you are a fan of custard creams or chocolate digestives can be a point of contention, but what about your dog? Although dogs only have about one-sixth of the number of taste buds that humans have, we can’t help but wonder if our pooches have snack preferences.
Ali Smith was able to shed some light on the subject. According to Ali, our furry friends tend to favour flavours of liver or whole proteins such as chicken and ham. However, it is worth keeping in mind that some treats are definitely healthier than others. Just like human food, the less processed, the better: recognisable ingredients are always a good sign!
The Treats our Dogs go Crazy for
The team at Benchmark Kennels decided to do some digging. We asked 300 dog owners for their pooches’ favourite snacks and compiled a comprehensive list of dogs’ favourite alternative treats.
Just as Ali Smith predicted, the dogs were chicken lovers, with over 1 in 5 of owners voting this popular poultry as the treat that their pooch gets most excited for. Dogs are not bothered about whether the chicken is freeze-dried, baked, or boiled, so don’t bother with any elaborate cooking, these pooches are easily pleased.
The second most popular snacks were hot dogs and sausages, without onion and garlic of course which are harmful for dogs. This quintessential American delicacy was suggested by almost 1 in 6 fur-parents. In fact, Rachel Rodgers recommends using this food as a training incentive. “Small pieces (no larger than your small finger nail) of hot dog or ham can be really good high value treats for training.” However, Rachel also warns that meat products with a high salt content are harmful for our doggos and should be avoided. To be safe, stick to reduced fat and salt hot dogs, with no garlic or onion powder flavouring.
Cheese narrowly misses out on the top two spots with 46 four-legged fans. Luckily, this tasty treat also gets Rachel’s approval as she advocates for its efficacy in the training department. She suggests owners use small pieces of low fat plain cheese like mild cheddar when teaching dogs new skills and notes that Blue and aged cheese should be avoided as they tend to upset a canine tummy.
In fourth is beef liver, with 43 out of 300 canine enthusiasts choosing this treat. Again, pooches are not fussy about the cooking method, whether freeze-dried, baked, or boiled, dogs are sure to enjoy it!
Next came the classic kibble with 35 votes, followed by salmon jerky in sixth place which was suggested by 26 pooch owners. Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids for dogs which supports immune systems and decreases inflammation. It can also keep your canines looking classy by maintaining a shiny, health coat.
There is a three-way tie in seventh place, with 21 owners mentioning carrots, salt-and-additive-free beef jerky and ice cubes.
It is important to opt for salt-and-additive-free jerky so as to not make dogs ill, this can become quite serious.
On the other hand, carrots make the perfect low-fat snack for our canine companions. These vegetables are known to clean dogs’ teeth, keep bowel movements regular, support eye health, strengthen immune systems and maintain healthy skin and coats. However, while carrots are rich in Vitamin A which has many benefits, it can also build up in the body and become toxic. As a result, it would be best to not overdo it with the carrots.
Ice cubes can make a great cooling treat for dogs, especially on a hot summer’s day. However, the ice cubes must be a safe size so as to not pose a choking risk, it might be best to offer small ice cubes or ice shavings to be on the cautious side.
And in eighth is xylitol-free peanut butter. Although this snack is popular among dog owners, this treat should only be given in moderation as it is high in fat and has a high salt content. As a result, it is not advisable to offer peanut butter to overweight dogs or those with kidney problems. Also, it is essential to only use peanut butter that does not contain xylitol as this chemical is toxic for dogs.
Although dogs are the biggest human food enthusiasts, it is best to be careful and research foods before offering them to pooches. Rachel Rodgers warns:
“There are certain human foods which would be toxic and dangerous to give to our dogs. Any foods containing chocolate, raisins, grapes etc. need to be avoided as this could have deadly consequences to the dog. Other human foods are ok to give dogs but in small quantities.”
While it can be tempting to get over-enthusiastic at the thought of embracing International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day and plan to stuff your pooch with every flavoured doggy delicacy, it is important to celebrate sensibly. Overfeeding can lead to obesity and a whole list of other health consequences such as heart disease, diabetes and arthritis, all of which negatively impact your furry friend’s life span.
Simply watching your pooch’s portions will allow you both to enjoy the festivities while watching out for your partner in crime and what is best for them in the long run.
About Benchmark Kennels
Benchmark Kennels manufacture bespoke outdoor kennels to suit dogs of all breeds, shapes, and sizes. The kennels are handmade and made-to-order, with professional fittings to give you peace of mind that your kennel will be stable and withstand the elements. They offer both bespoke wooden kennels, along with a range of eco-kennels that provide additional thermal insulation.
The kennel retailers are trusted suppliers to the National Trust, Balmoral estate, the royal family of Abu Dhabi, Country estates, top dog breeders and pet owners nationwide.