I have known and loved many dogs in my life, and lately I’ve been spending time with my best friend’s dog, Tank. Tanqueray “Tank” O’Leary is an 80-pound weimeraner and german shorthair mixed lap dog. He is a supremely smart dog, and is very particular about which treats he puts effort into receiving- even depending upon his mood. We are constantly training Tank to hold back his forceful enthusiasm toward guests, cats, and the lizards found commonly in our backyard. The goal is to redirect his attention and be in control. Recently in an interview on the radio, I heard a filmmaker describe one of the most notable dog-training techniques a trainer used in forming a bond between an actor and the pet actor; the method is to hold the dog treat up between your eyes, so that the dog associates making eye-contact with being rewarded. Tank is highly intuitive to tone, mood change, and gesture. However, working with these tools alone is no match for a willful and intelligent dog. The thing that is crucial in the training of all dogs is the reward worth sitting and staying for. I have found that some dogs prefer different meats- chicken, lamb, beef, etc. Most will go for those savory treats over the healthier morsels made of vegetables and/or grain. Beth, Tank’s mom, has found that his eyes go wild for cheese. So, I found an easy and cheese-filled dog-treat recipe and made a few adjustments for Tank.
Makes approximately 100 quarter-sized treats.
• 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
• 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
• 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 3 cups all purpose flour
• 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
• 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
• 1 cup beef stock
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Plan the shape of your treats! I wanted my treats to be about the size of a quarter, and I didn’t have any cute cookie-cutter shapes on hand in that size. I used the opening of a glass to make a circle, and cut those into pieces much like a pizza. The rounded triangles are intended to look like cheese wedges- the shape can be anything you want!
1. In a large bowl, mix the aromatic cheeses with the vegetable oil.
2. Stir in the flour, dry milk and salt, until uniformly blended.
3. Add the beef stock (if you don’t have beef stock, you can use chicken stock or just plain tap water. Any combination of the three works well too.) Knead until dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and has picked up as much of the flour, as possible.
4. Roll dough out onto an already lightly floured surface to your desired thickness. This recipe will rise very slightly. Whatever shape you set out will be very close to what you get after baking. Cut out treats to whatever organic or cookie-cutter shape you like and repeat until all dough is used.
5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until treats are golden brown. Be sure to allow the cheesy treats to cool thoroughly before packaging. Also, consider that these treats have a bit of oil in them; I wrapped the treats in decorative napkins before putting them in the plastic containers I chose. Note: You can substitute whole wheat flour for the all-purpose flour in order to make an even healthier treat for your dog.
Lately, adjusting to the land of Chihuahuas in Orlando, has been difficult for Tank. He eagerly bounds toward other dogs, hoping to make new friends, and is only sometimes lovingly received. After baking these crunchy and cheesy treats, I thought- why not use them as a peace-offering for Tank’s prospective canine buddies! We now bring them on walks and give Tank the treats when he obeys, as well as present them to dogs Tank likes along the way. These treats are already ‘Tank Approved’ and though he would love to have them for himself- he loves to be loved even more. Tank thinks it is best to give them to friendly neighbor dogs, send them to his new brother Sonny O’Leary, to my Grandmother’s new puppy and her Husky Angel, and finally, my family’s dog Frankie.
Tank has been known to turn down a variety of different kinds of treats, should he rather lizard hunt, lap-sit, or to cozy into a warm and freshly vacated space on the couch. His favorite move is to make it clear that he will enter or exit the house only when it suits him. Since baking and introducing these treats, he has (in record time, of course!) mastered sitting and staying for as long as Beth sees fit- and with the ‘ok’ rushes her for his cheesy reward!
- Photo Labels • I chose the “Cara” style in Chocolate.