Homemade Salmon Dog Treat Recipe
A Great Reward to Teach Impulse Control
When my sheltie Asher was young, he was obsessed with motion. Coming from a strong herding and performance line, Asher would get really ramped up when he saw motion of any kind. Other dogs running, people running, birds flying, cars zipping by—it would all cause him to lose focus and lunge at the end of his leash in a desire to chase the moving object.
I spent countless hours working to teach him impulse control against this behavior, but was met with little success until a reward that he loved more than watching motion came into our lives. When I first tried Salmon Crack dog treats with Asher, his focus problem found its solution.
This treat is called "Salmon Crack" because it's jokingly like "crack," the highly addictive and illegal drug, to dogs. They become enslaved to its fishy smell and flavor and just can't get enough. My dog started showing immediate improvement in his focus after I started using these treats. Over time, I have decreased usage of these, and now we only use it ringside at agility trials to get Asher happily focused on me before our agility runs. He always knows when Salmon Crack comes out that we are headed into the ring.
Go to 2:07 in the video to see Asher focusing for these salmon treats. He's right outside of the agility ring where a fast dog is finishing his run. You can see Asher sit calmly and walk nicely into the ring, something he couldn't do before the addition of these treats.
- 1 14.75 oz can pink salmon
- 2 cups flour
- 2 eggs
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Open a can of pink salmon. Don't drain. Put salmon and its juices into a large mixing bowl.
- Crack and add two eggs. Dispose of shells. Flake salmon and mix it with the eggs.
- Take the flour and mix it into the salmon/egg mixture. You don't have to be precise with the flour and may add more or less than recommended. You will want a consistency similar to the photo below.
- Spray a baking sheet with no-stick cooking spray and dump the dough mixture onto the sheet. Sprinkle some flour on top of the dough and flour your hands to keep the dough from sticking to your hands as you press it flat.
- Press the dough out flat until it is about 1/4 inch thick. If you want it more moist, you can make it thicker. If you want it crunchier, you can make it thinner. You don't need to make perfect corners as this will later be broken into small treats. Just flatten it out into any old shape.
- Place the cookie sheet in the center of the oven. Let it cook for 25-35 minutes, depending on whether you prefer moister treats or crunchier treats.
- Remove from the oven. Use a spatula to lift off of the cookie sheet before cooling, otherwise it may stick to your cookie sheet. You can let it cool on a rack or in the cookie sheet.
- Once cooled, divide the Salmon Crack into desired portions, bag it, and then freeze it.
Rate Salmon Crack
After people began to see the change in Asher from wild child to something controllable, I began getting requests for my Salmon Crack recipe. In fact, I've been asked for this recipe far more than any other. I'm not sure if this bodes poorly on my abilities as a cook or favorably on my abilities as a dog trainer.
- Salmon Crack is extremely easy to make, filled with healthy ingredients, and its vitamin packed. However it is not a substitute for regular meals. This is designed as a treat to be fed during training or as a special reward during the day. Dogs don't have to be performance dogs or in training to get a healthy, tasty treat, and this one fits the bill.
- Since it contains fish, it does need to be refrigerated or frozen. According to the USDA, cooked fish when stored for human consumption should be kept in the fridge and consumed within three to four days. It can be kept frozen for three months before consumption. While still warm, I divide my Salmon Crack up into daily portions and place it into freezable storage bags. When I need them, they are there ready for instant focus. Asher doesn't mind if the treat is a little frozen upon use. Cold or warm, it's still delicious to him!
- This recipe is very versatile. You can change it as you'd like. I know some like to add a little cooking oil to the recipe for a moister treat. I personally don't like adding fats to my dogs' diets, so I avoid this. You can also use gluten/wheat-free flours instead of white bread flour. In the ingredients, I don't list what type of flour to use as any flour should work.
- In addition, if you like your Salmon Crack to be more moist without adding oil, cook for less time. Some dogs prefer a good crunch to their treats, so a longer cooking time will make for a crispier treat. As Asher prefers a moist treat, I spread the dough slightly thicker, and I don't overcook.
Please note the below nutrition label is rated for humans, not dogs. Therefore, while the grams should be fairly accurate, the percentages will reflect percentages for a human's diet. This nutrition label was created through the use of an online recipe calculator.
It is hard to determine how many servings go into one batch of Salmon Crack. The nutrition label below is based on 20 servings, but if you use more or less in one sitting, the nutritional values will change. If you are feeding only a small bite each day as a treat, there will be far more daily servings than 20. If you are using it in training, you may easily use far fewer.
Also, although the below nutrition label shows zero sugar and fiber, it actually has 0.1 grams of sugar and 0.4 grams of fiber. The other calculations were also rounded for the label.
|Serving size: 20|
|Calories from Fat||27|
|% Daily Value *|
|Fat 3 g||5%|
|Saturated fat 1 g||5%|
|Unsaturated fat 2 g|
|Carbohydrates 14 g||5%|
|Sugar 0 g|
|Fiber 0 g|
|Protein 5 g||10%|
|Cholesterol 90 mg||30%|
|Sodium 35 mg||1%|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|
This basic recipe can be changed to fit your dog's tastes.
- If you dog doesn't like salmon or you don't have salmon on hand, no problem. Tuna is a great substitute for the salmon. In fact, you can substitute any meat for the salmon as long as it can ground up and mixed easily with the flour. The simple concept of flour with the egg binder and added meat for flavor can be used to make any variety of different treats.
- One word of caution: I don't recommend "seasoning" the treats. Your dog will get enough flavor just from the delicious salmon. Adding in salt only increases unhealthy sodium levels. Also, don't add garlic. Garlic is dangerous for dogs
I hope you give this fast, easy recipe a go. If you do and if you make variations on it, please let us know how your dog likes it in the comments below.
It's a proven winner!