Category "Beyond the Bowl"


I use lots of treats during training.  Shop bought treats can end up being pretty expensive and I’m not sure how healthy a lot of them are, although it is possible to get high fish/meat/poultry treats with minimal additives.

I dry meat.  It’s reasonably easy.  It’s pretty cheap.  Dried meat is easy to handle and doesn’t get your fingers smelly and greasy.

Good meats to dry are pig’s liver, chicken and beef.  Not so much pork or ham as it has a higher fat content and doesn’t always dry well and lamb’s liver, as well has being more expensive than pig’s liver, is more crumbly when dried.

I put the meat in the freezer, just so that it can start to solidify as this makes it easier to slice.  Once the meat starts to solidify, take it out of the freezer and cut it into thin slices.  Put the sliced meat in the oven.  Meat has to be cooked at at least 70 degrees centigrade.  I usually cook it at 80 degrees.   Check the meat every hour and once it’s about half dry, take the meat out of the oven and cut it into long strips.  Put it back in the oven and bake until it’s dried right the way through.

I break some garlic cloves and keep the meat and the garlic cloves in a ziplock bag.  This might be a bit controversial as garlic is thought to be poisonous to dogs, but garlic is ok in moderation and my dogs love it, but you can leave it out if you want.

The treats will keep for ages if fully dried.

Break the strips of meat into very small pieces when needed.

Don’t forget to take into account any treats your dog has had when considering their daily food allowance.


This is a game that you can play with your dog that is fun and will encourage him to use his nose.  I like to call it ‘sprat onna string’ 🐟😂.  It’s really good mental stimulation

Most good pet shops will sell dried sprats so you don’t have to dry them yourself, which is not that pleasant a job!  Local to Swansea, I think the most cost effective place to buy the sprats is from Pet Hut in Llansamlet, but feel free to share if you’ve found a better deal.  If you want to make the sprats even more smelly then keep a few broken cloves of garlic in the bag with the sprats.

  • Attach the sprat to a piece of string.
  • With your dog in the house, take the sprat for a walk (the sprat must be dragged along the floor) in an area that is safe for your dog to explore, creating a scent trail that your dog can follow.
  • At the end of the trail, remove the string from the sprat and hide the sprat.
  • Return to your dog.
  • Say ‘sprat’ followed by letting your dog smell the sprats in the open bag.
  • Say ‘sprat’ followed by giving your dog a sprat.
  • Take your dog to the beginning of the trail and say ‘find sprat’.
  • Hopefully your dog will pick up the scent of the sprat and start tracking it.
  • When the dog finds the sprat he’s rewarded by being allowed to eat the sprat and you’ll also show loads of excitement, further rewarding the dog.


  • When you first try this game, make the trail easy for the dog to follow.  Puppies and dogs that haven’t had much training won’t have developed problem solving skills yet and if the game is too hard they’ll give up quite quickly.  You can gradually make the trails harder each time your play, in order to challenge your dog.
  • Try to find different places to do this with your dog to avoid confusing your dog with residual sprat odours.
  • Dogs tend to love fish, but if your dog isn’t that bothered, then choose something else that’s reasonably smelly, like a sausage and give the game a different name; ‘sausage on a string’ 🌭😂.  I’d caution you allowing your dog to eat a whole sausage though!  Use the whole sausage to create the trail, but leave lots of small pieces of sausage for your dog to find at the end of the trail.



The purpose of food is to supply nutrients to the body and brain to support cellular health and regeneration.  The process of digestion and the things that are digested will effect behaviour with dogs as well as people.  As with people, the best diet for dogs is a diet unprocessed food.  This is difficult for most people to manage on a daily basis, but there is a good compromise; a dog quality dog food, replacing the dog food in some meals with fresh unprocessed human food, or to feed your dog a raw diet.  Note that a raw diet shouldn’t be supplemented with cooked food.


The dog food industry is huge.  As with human food the quality and ingredients vary greatly.  I don’t know enough about dog nutrition to be able to make a really informed decision on what constitutes a good quality dog food, so I refer to a great website, if I need an idea of how good a certain brand of dog food is.  At its simplest, it’ll give the food a nutritional rating, which you can then use to compare with other foods.  You’d be surprised at how poorly some of the well known brands are rated, and if you’re feeding supermarket own brand then, don’t!  Personally I wouldn’t feed anything with less than a 90% nutritional rating.

The dog food ingredients are listed in order of weight.

Ideally the food should be 65-80% animal, and that should be the first ingredient in the list.  Avoid the term ‘animal by products’, ‘meat’ and ‘meal’, they’re too vague.

There’s no evidence to suggest that you should stick to one type of dog food, or to wean a dog off one food before changing to a different one.


Dogs love human food!  Historically dogs would have been fed the humans’ leftovers and scraps.  There are certain foods that you should avoid feeding your dog, but other than that, feeding your dog fresh, unprocessed food not only reduces the chances of your dog developing cancer by up to 90%, but it gives the dog variety, rather them having to eat the same thing, day in, day out, even if it is good quality dog food.

Using muffin tins will help slow the rate of eating and will allow you to try small portions of different things to see what they like and what they don’t.  Pups are more likely to try anything and everything than an older dog that hasn’t tried a particular food before.

This meal consisted of a little bit of Eden’s kibble (dog biscuit) in mushroom juice and mushroom starter.  The main course was chicken, roast veg and noodles.  Dessert, or ‘afters’ as it’s known here in Wales, was mashed banana and Greek yoghurt, melon balls and Greek yoghurt, and pumpkin puree.

A word of caution; I wouldn’t normally feed my dogs in this close a proximity.  If you have multiple dogs, they’re best given lots of space, or better still being fed in separate rooms to avoid confrontation.


More doggy tapas.  Today’s meal consisted of

  • Banana
  • Eden’s dog food with homemade stock
  • Cucumber
  • Banana & yoghurt
  • Pumpkin puree
  • Salmon fishcake with spinach
  • Melon & pineapple
  • Eden’s dog food with homemade stock
  • Cucumber
  • Humus

Feeding your dog fresh unprocessed food on a regular basis decreases the risk of cancer by up to 90% and adds variety to your dog’s diet.  Be creative, try foods that your dog hasn’t had before as well as ones that you know he likes.  Just be sure to avoid certain foods that can be toxic to dogs.

So, was everything eaten?  Both left the cucumber, so it went into my husband’s cucumber and humus sandwiches for the following day.  Waste not, want not.   😆



Dog tapas; strawberry, carrot, mango & Greek yoghurt, broccoli omelette, sweet potato, steamed broccoli, rice, banana, apple, pumpkin, cheese, omelette scrapings.

Try substituting one portion of your dog’s food with fresh, unprocessed food, every other day.  Not only will this we more interesting for your dog, but adding fresh greens to your dog’s diet has been found to decrease the risk of cancer by up to 90%.  Be sure to avoid food that is not recommended for dogs.

Make sure that you’re feeding your dog a decent food. is an excellent resource where you can check the ingredients and rating of your current food.  It also has a wizard where you can enter details about your dog and your daily budget and it’ll suggest a suitable dog food.


These balls came from Tesco, but Pets at Home do a rubber ball with holes in it which is probably better.  I cut some strips of felt, folded some liver treats into the felt, loosely knotted the felt and put the felt into the middle of the ball, making sure to leave a bit of felt hanging out.  Dyfri’s good at these games and worked out quickly that she needed to pull on the felt to get the treats.  Celyn got the treats out, but I think it was more luck than judgement.



I can’t take credit for inventing this, I saw it on Facebook.  The bottle was out in the garden, hanging from a washing line, but the only part of my garden that’s enclosed is where the dogs go to toilet and I don’t have a washing line, so I improvised.

I cut a small hole in the bottom of a 2 litre plastic bottle, put some kibble in it and suspended it from the staircase.

This is quite hard, but Dyfri’s a bit of a pro at these kind of things.  See the videos below.  The first attempt was with a bit of kibble, the second was with some frozen chicken treats.

The only down side is that Celyn also gets very excited at Dyfri’s attempts and barks the place down.

Patiently waiting for ‘hanging bottle’ to be recharged! 


Another of my dog’s favourites. Snuffle mats are made from rubber mats with strips of fleece. You sprinkle treats or kibble in between the strips of fleece. It takes my dogs about 20 minutes to eat their food from a snuffle mat, as opposed to about 30 seconds from a bowl, and then they swap to make sure that nobody has missed anything and get about another 10 minutes enjoyment.


The towel game is another really easy way to entertain your dog. Get a tea towel, place treats or kibble on the towel, roll the towel up (leaving some treats visible the first few times you do it), give the towel to the dog.

Dizzy, the dog in the video, had lost the use of his back legs, so this was a great game for him; his brain had to work out how to get the treats, but his body didn’t need to move much.

This is also a really good way to introduce a new baby (human or fur) even before it comes into the  household.  It’s not the only thing that you should do though, get in touch for help.  Get a clean tea towel, rub the towel over the new addition (human-baby or fur-baby), bring the towel home, roll treats inside the towel and let the dog explore.  Sniffing releases the feel-good chemicals; oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine, so your dog is bonding with the new addition, even though the new addition is not present.


The snuffle box is an absolute favourite of mine and so easy to make.  It involves a box, some scrunched up newspaper and some kibble (dog biscuits) or small treats.  Make sure that the edge of the box isn’t so high that the dog will damage his throat.  As you can see, Celyn preferred to get inside hers.  My first attempt was with 2 boxes that kitchen bins came in.  Celyn could even shut the top of the box so she could eat inside in peace!  The boxes lasted over a month when Dyfri’s started to rip, so I upgraded to 2 plastic boxes.

Some estimates allocate one-third of the dog’s brain to the chore of scenting, so snuffling is a very enriching exercise for them.