Eating Your Veggies – The Value of “Low Value” Treats

Those of you who have tuned in on Tuesdays might know that there are two Blog Hops that we participate in. This post is for the first, Tasty Tuesday, but stay tuned as we bring you a special report on today’s Tuesday’s Tails hop (the second, usually briefer), about a large group of recently-rescued Dachshunds in our area!


Gilligan has come a long way in his training since joining his forever home in February, 2014. If you’re new to WagsAhoy.com, you can read about some of the commands that Gilligan’s obedience training has been focusing on in our Roundhouse Training post from late last year, among others. Through emphasis of the select exercises and commands listed there, Gilly has achieved a swifter and more reliable response to most of them, though his consistency does fluctuate day-to-day to include some “bad dog days.”

It’ll come as no surprise that our weenie friend tends to perform better when there are treats at stake. That said, while we at WagsAhoy.com fall on the “bacon is ok” side of the debate about the inclusion of real bacon in a dog’s diet, we do recognize the danger of too much bacon, and as such, our homemade bacon bites are reserved as a high value treat, meaning one that is used in great moderation, in order to elicit and reward more challenging desired behavior.

These do well for “Roundhouse Training” exercises, for example, where there are very few repetitions (1-2 in a day’s work; not done every day) of a more complex command, BUT this left us looking for a low value treat that we could really get behind.

With your low value treat, you can confidently use a higher volume of treats in a single session. These are designed for when you want to drill a single or multiple commands many times in a single session, and offer a food reward each time your pup performs the command appropriately. Selecting the right kind of low value treat is serious business if you own a Dachshund, as obesity is a common breed risk and leads to serious back and hip issues from the extra stress on their proportionately long backs. Needless to say, our bacon bites could never serve this role, or we’d be dealing with a bloated sausage before too long!

Enter our friends at BlogPaws. During last week’s #BlogPawsChat on Twitter, they posted a wonderful tip that has helped us fill this niche:

Mama and Papa were skeptical, as Gilligan has shown decidedly zero interest in eating leafy greens (he won’t even touch a spinach leaf that has fallen on the floor), but when Papa grabbed a bit of the frozen broccoli they had sitting in the freezer, sure enough Gilligan does indeed LOVE it!

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Exhibit A: Note the tail. This site’s not called “WagsAhoy” for nothin’, you know!

We’re really excited about this new inclusion because it adds some nutrition, with only a small carbohydrate add to the diet. Gilly’s weight will still be monitored for signs of calorie imbalance, but there’s some confidence this can be managed through portion control of his regular food and other treats.

The introduction of broccoli has helped to improve Gilligan’s performance of commands while out on a walk, as Papa can bring a bag loaded with bits of broc’, and small acts of obedience can now be rewarded with more frequency. It should be noted that the “bad dog days” we mentioned above almost always coincide with days when there are no treats on hand, and indeed results are typically dramatically better when there are.

One command that is gaining new emphasis is the “all-the-way-Down” command. Papa uses a downward fist as the body language accompanying this command. Gilligan had a breakthrough session with this command shortly after Christmas, where he demonstrated quick proficiency after about 5 attempts.

This has not, however, carried over to general consistency since. Gilly is now consistent with his “sit” command, however his obedience to the “all-the-way-Down” command still needs work: on most attempts he will just remain in a seated position, only laying down after quite some time.

On the plus side, having lots of broccoli bits on hand opens up the possibility of practice drills with greater repetition, which over time should help him master this more quickly. There has been some speculation that Gilligan’s obedience to this command varies by the type of surface he is on (i.e., that he does not enjoy the feeling of laying down completely on certain surfaces vs. others), however this was said about his sitting previously so it seems safe to say that any impact this factor has is likely possible to overcome.

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We’d like to thank our friends at BlogPaws once again, on Twitter @BlogPaws, for this spectacular, spot-on tip. If you are interested to attend their BlogPaws Chats, these happen weekly on Tuesday nights, from 8pm – 10pm Eastern Time. All you need to do is log in to Twitter, and use your search bar to follow tweets that include “#BlogPawsChat,” which you should also include in all tweets you’d like others to see. It is a spectacular way to get great information like this, as well as meet other pawsome pet bloggers, learn about sponsored contests, and more! Heck, maybe we’ll see you on tonight’s #BlogPawsChat!

Now you can Follow, Like and Share the joy of Gilligan with friends on InstagramTwitterFacebook, WordPress, and YouTube. Thanks so much for stopping by today! 🙂

This is a Blog Hop! Special thanks as always to Kol’s Notes and Sugar the Golden Retriever for hosting Tasty Tuesday!

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12 thoughts on “Eating Your Veggies – The Value of “Low Value” Treats

  1. Never thought of using frozen brocolli but we will be trying this out in our training this week. We have always struggled to find a low value treat that would still elicit a response but not pack on the pounds. Good job Gilligan on mastering sit and working on down!!

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    1. Thanks! I have no idea how, but that broccoli is irresistible to me! You’ll have to let us know if you have similar success! Good luck (though based on my experience, I’m not sure you’ll need it)! *wags*

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    1. Oh yes! Carrots are tried and true here as well, but we try not to go overboard on quantity since they’re a tad sweet. We’re looking up exact nutrition info online and there’s a similar amount of sugar (~2.5g) in a medium-sized 5-6″ carrot as a whole stalk of broccoli. Not knocking carrots by any means, but with broccoli we can get a higher quantity of bite-sized pieces with less guilt!

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  2. That’s kind of funny that you just shared this. I didn’t make the BlogPaws chat, but just a couple of nights ago it occurred to me to try to give Luke some frozen broccoli. I had bought some generic brand and it was not that great when I cooked it, but I just wondered if Luke might like it frozen. He loves lots of fresh veggies, and he loves ice cubes, so I thought why not try it? He loved it! The two girls weren’t so thrilled though, but they’re not real big veggie eaters anyway.
    I cannot get our beagle Cricket to lie down, she just will not do it, no matter what trick I try! She’s great with sit, but I don’t know why she won’t go to that next step!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you’re having a good experience with the broccoli!

      Our friends over at K9sOverCoffee shared with us a great post about mastering the Down-Stay command that’s actually helping a lot with our training. The most pronounced difference I can highlight is that now Papa is clear and consistent with his verbal and body language, only says the word ONCE, and provides instant feedback. There are more tips there, too. Link is here: http://www.k9sovercoffee.com/tips/training-a-solid-down-stay-command/

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