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Making Your Own Delicious Liver Treats

From the desk of Mogens Eliasen - first published: Date



Mogens Eliasen - the author of this article
on 'livertreats'

There is no reason for contributing to deterioration of your dog's health by giving it treats that are made of grains or flour of any sorts - the carbohydrates in those cause serious long-term disease.

Besides, when you make your own treats of raw meats or organs, you have a far better effect of your training efforts…

Ingredients

Sliced liver of any kind. The slices should be 5-6 mm (1/4 inch) thick - or less. The thinner, the better - and the easier to make.


Procedure

Put the raw liver slices in the oven on a rack that allows maximum access of air all around. (You can also use a pan - but it is less efficient, as it only allows air access from above.)

Set the thermostat of the oven as low as you possibly can. 50-60 degrees Celsius (130-150 Fahrenheit) is enough - anything above that will tend cook the liver - but your dog won't blame you for that (most dogs actually prefer slightly cook liver over raw liver...)

Bake the liver till it is reasonably firm and easy to cut with scissors. Open the oven often, so you let moist air out - this also help keeping the temperature down, if your oven cannot maintain the low temperature prescribed. The whole point is to bake the liver at the lowest possible temperature, so you really turn the baking process into a dehydration process more than anything else.

If you cannot get your oven to measure the low temperature, you can use your hand for measure.... A surface hotter than 55 degree Celsius will be too hot to touch for more than a second or two - so if you burn your fingers when touching the rack quickly, the temperature is too high.

When the liver is dry on all surfaces, you taken it out and cut your treats off the slices. Using a pair of scissors is easiest, but a sharp knife will do too.

If the cutting makes everything wet and greasy, you have not baked enough - back to the oven then.

If the liver is too hard to cut with scissors, you baked too long - better luck next time... the treats are OK though - you just have a problem you might need stronger tools for than what you might have in your kitchen...)

When the pieces are all cut to the size you want, you put them back into the oven, this time in a pan or on baking paper. Baking paper is best, because it is not totally tight and gives better air circulation around the pieces.

You now continue the baking until all surfaces are nice and dry and it is easy to grab a treat without getting greasy fingers. You should stir the pile regularly to accomplish this, still keeping the oven at the lowest possible temperature it can provide. If this is a problem, just open the oven often and let some fresh, cold air in!


The result

The end result should be a pile of treats with a fairly hard and dry surface, but still most and gooey inside. If you squish them, they should give in - but they should also rattle if you put them into a small container.

The liver is not really raw - but it isn't really cooked either. It is a nice compromise between raw food and practical usefulness.

The recipe is great for novices in the art of baking - you are supposed to do just about all the mistakes you should avoid when baking a cake... ;-)


Alternative for those who do not like liver…

I have met very few dogs in my life who do not appreciate liver when slightly heated. But I have met many people who have trouble handling it…

There is also the question of variation.

Instead of the sliced liver, you can actually use any kind of meat or organ which you can get in thin slices - or make into something that is similar. The simplest is using ground meat, either as you buy it in the supermarket or from your food processor in the kitchen. Any kind of ground meat, organ, or whole animal for that matter (mice and fish are great…) can be used.

The problem is that is you make some flat pan cakes of ground meat and dry them as described for the liver slices, it will go into pieces when you handle it - and those pieces will be too small to be practically useful for training.

You avoid this by simply adding whole raw eggs to the ground meat. The ratio meat/egg depends a lot on the specific quality of the meat, such as it fat contents, bone contents (if you ground some whole animals yourself), etc. But start with 6 eggs to a pound of beef, so you get some slimy dough as the result, and then adjust when you see the first result.

You take this slimy dough and make pan cakes of it, and then you dry those pan cakes in your oven, exactly as described for the liver treats.

One warning: although most dogs will be extremely excited if you would use tripe, tripe is unfortunately extremely tough to grind (it takes industrial machinery - a kitchen grinder will rarely do….). When you know this, you do not need to use the excuse that is the real reason for most people to not use tripe: it makes the entire house stink in a way that will make your dog resist going out for a walk, and everybody else want to take the dog out for more and much longer walks… J


Using the treats

I use a film canister in my pocket as "dog money wallet". One canister typically lasts 3-4 days, but on days with lots of training, it could be a canister per day, sometimes two...

The rest of what you need for 14 days can be stored in the fridge. Any excess should go in the freezer, preferably in an open container, so they get "freezer burnt" - that will eliminate the problem of them getting soft and greasy when you thaw them up.

Be sure to use the treats exclusively as rewards for work well done. Not because the dog is cute or begs.

And do count the amount of organ meat you feed this way as part of the dog's diet. As far as nutritional balance goes, you can count half the treats as raw, the other half as cooked - chemically, you probably hit something that is in-between.

Have fun!


Sincerely,

Mogens Eliasen


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Mogens Eliasen holds a mag. scient. degree (comparable to a US Ph. D.) in Chemistry from Århus University, Denmark, has a extensive education also as military officer and in business management. He has been working with dogs, dog owners, dog trainers, and veterinarians since 1970. A large part of his dog work has been in the area of education and education planning, and as consultant for dog owners and dog training associations. He is a strong advocate of treating the dog with respect for its nature as domesticated wolf, and has published several books and videos on topics related to dogs, dog training, dog behavior, and responsible care of dogs. He publishes a newsletter "The Peeing Post" containing lots of tips and advice on all matters pertaining to dogs.

For more information about Mogens Eliasen, including links to other articles he has published, please send this e-mail to or visit www.k9joy.com or mogenseliasen.com.



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Titles available from K9joy®:

Anders Hallgren:
"The ABC's of Dog Language" (140 page book - 1996)
Understand what your dog is telling you - and communicate with it on its own terms. A must have for all dog lovers. Easy to read. Easy to use as reference.

Mogens Eliasen:
"The Dog's Social Behavior" (2.5 hr. video - 1998, updated on DVD 2006, with support materials on a CD)
How the dog's behavior is linked to its instincts and needs. What you can change and what is "for life". How you use this information to dramatically improve your relationship with your dog.

Mogens Eliasen:
"BrainWork for Smart Dogs" (380 page e-book - 2003)
How you get a happy and well-behaved dog, stimulating its brain with 15 minutes of fun per day. Dogs need to work and use their instinct in order to be in mental balance. Everyone can do it with these instructions. More than 40 exercises to choose from!

Mogens Eliasen:
"Don't Pull on the Leash!" (40 page e-book - 2005)
The 5 simple steps in this complete training manual will effectively stop any dog from pulling on the leash, with no pain or abuse and no special equipment - and make the start of a much better relationship with the dog.

Mogens Eliasen:
"Is Your Dog's Drinking Water Safe?" (30 page e-book - 2005, updated 2006)
A layman's overview of how and why drinking water gets contaminated - and what you can do about it.

Mogens Eliasen:
"Feeding Your Dog - the Natural Way" (1 hr. video - 1998)
The fastest introduction to get you started on feeding your dog a natural diet. It explains the dog's physiology in simple terms, so you also understand why you should do this.

Mogens Eliasen:
"Canine Choice - by Nature" (80 page e-book - 1999, updated 2005)
The simple "how-to" about feeding a natural diet for optimal health.

Mogens Eliasen:
"Raw Food for Dogs - the Ultimate Reference for Dog Owners"
(340 page e-book - revised/expanded 2006)
Everything you need for making your own informed decisions about what to feed your dog, and why and how. Includes numerous examples of feeding plans plus two chapters on how to work with your vet, also if he/she does not approve of your feeding...

Mogens Eliasen:
"The Wolf's Natural Diet - a Feeding Guide for Your Dog?"
(125 page e-book - 2004 updated/revised 2006)
What we know and don't know about the wolf and its natural feeding, and about the dog and its domestication, and what we can and cannot conclude from wolf to dog... this is the big "why?" behind any responsible approach to feeding your dog.




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