By Brenna Fender
Hot dogs are one of the most popular training treats amongst dog trainers. They are inexpensive, easy to prepare, enjoyed by most dogs, long lasting, and not-too-bad if you wind up having to carry some of them in your mouth for a while. So, if you are new to hot dog wrangling or want to change things up a bit, here are some different ways you can prepare them for your dogs:
As-is. Hot dogs are cooked already, so serving them right out of the package to your pet is OK. Just cut them into small pieces and go train.
Boiled. Isn’t this how your cook them for yourself? Dogs like them this way too!
Dehydrated. A food-dehydrator is the ultimate in hot dog preparation, since dehydrated treats last a long time and seem to be tasty for our canine partner. Cut them into “coins” before dehydrating.
Frozen. Cut your dogs up into small treats, put in a freezer bag and store them in the freezer. Take them out and use as needed. Many dogs don’t seem to mind them cold, and in many cases they will defrost on your way to class or practice anyway.
Oven. If you have lots of dogs to cook this might be a good method for you. One way to bake your hot dogs is to slice them in fourths long ways, then into pie-shaped pieces about as thick as a nickel. Spread them out on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake them for 30-45 minutes at 250 degrees. Watch them for signs of burning. When done they should be light and dry, and they will last a long time.
Microwaved. This is probably the most common method of hot dog preparation. It is also quite varied.
Microwaves come in different strengths and can take very different amounts of time to cook hot dogs.
Plus, the more hot dogs you nuke, the longer they’ll take to cook. But here are a few pointers:
• Slice them first. Cut them into nickel-sized pieces (or thinner). You can slice them again into
halves or fourths, depending on your needs. A butter slicer, designed to cut an entire stick of
butter into pats, can cut your slicing time down quite a bit. Some people find that frozen hot
dogs are easier to slice into neat, even pieces. Your dog will not perform better just because
your treats are perfectly sliced, though.
• Nuke them on a paper-towel-lined plate with more paper towels covering the treats. Otherwise, they will be extra greasy and you might have some unnecessary clean up.
• Microwave hot dogs for a short time to get softer treats, and longer for dried pieces that will last a long time. Hot dogs that are dry enough can be stored in an air-tight container in your cupboard rather than in the refrigerator. There’s no harm in storing any hot dog, cooked dry, only rubbery, or uncooked, in your refrigerator or freezer. Better safe than sorry, in my opinion.
Microwaved hot dogs will cook at different rates, so you might need to take crispy pieces off your plate and then continuing nuking the rest. Fortunately, dogs seem to like burnt hot dogs as well as perfectly cooked ones.
Happy hot cooking and dog training!
This article first appeared on USDAA.com and is reposted with permission.
Brenna Fender is a Tampa Dog Trainer who writes for Courteous Canine, Inc. and attends dog sport classes at our main location! Courteous Canine, Inc. offers puppy kindergarten classes, basic manners, canine good citizen and pet therapy prep, agility, dog dock jumping, problem solving and behavior modification especially for aggressive dogs. We also offer boutique boarding, board and train, pet sitting and dog day care!