In the middle of Saturday’s idyllic (off leash!) hike, the fella and I suddenly realized that we were in a pretty pickle: we needed to cut our wilderness walk short so that he wouldn’t miss a haircut. We had two choices: cut it very short, and drop me and the pup off at the house, or wander a little farther, and let Nala and I amuse ourselves in the neighborhood while he got his ears lowered.
When faced with the question of whether to hike or not to hike, one always chooses to hike.
But as easy as the choice was, it meant that we would soon be faced with an even worse dilemma: an almost empty treat bag and an hour to kill in a series of new environments, a situation guaranteed to make Nala a little bit nervous unless I offer her the support she needs–so, you know, food. Lots of food. And some cuddles.
Fortunately, I knew exactly what to do.
Longtime readers will already know that I love The Honest Kitchen, and that Nala eats one of their dehydrated base mixes nearly every day. The complete formulas are also reliable stand-bys around here, usually employed as Kong filling or the occasional lazy, forgot-to-defrost-something meal. It’s no surprise, then, that when I needed to run into a local pet supply store and grab something that I might need to shovel into Nala’s face for an entire hour (Texas is already hot, and I wasn’t sure we’d be able to do much walking in the nearby neighborhood), I reached for The Honest Kitchen’s latest offering.
And thus commenced the Proper Toppers‘ TRIAL BY FIRE. They needed to be interesting to Nala–really interesting, interesting enough that she would play with me in new outdoor and indoor environments and not behave like an uncivilized but joyous monster, as is often her wont in pet stores. They needed to not make me feel guilty about heaping hundreds of calories of junk into her gullet and then having to skimp on her more nutritionally useful dinner. And, most difficult of all, they would ideally not wreak havoc on her digestive system despite the fact that she would probably be eating a lot of them for the first time ever in one sitting. And, of course, it would be nice if they did not stink to high heaven, make my hands sticky, or dissolve when I tried to break them into smaller pieces.
Since we don’t feed kibble, I can’t comment on these as a kibble topper. But they’re fantastic training treats. Nala says that they are very high value indeed, good enough to ask me to play in a new outdoor location and to help her decide it was safe pretty quickly. I also used them liberally while we trained in the store. Nala’s never been there before, either, but I was able to work with her while she dragged her leash and she kept coming back for more interaction, play, and treats, and delighted the staff with a display of her tricks and a demonstration of how to teach a dog to sit pretty. She even held her relaxed down-stay while people came in and out of the store, including people with dogs! So, yes, definitely a high value training treat, and I wouldn’t hesitate to use them in class or anywhere else where my reinforcers and I are competing with a particularly challenging environment.
As for price, I find these comparable to or slightly less expensive than similar complete, mostly meat freeze dried treats–but I like these better. They’re not as crumbly and strange when you try to break them up to make smaller treats, and, like I said, they’re a little bit less pricey. They also have fewer ingredients, making them more appropriate for dogs on elimination diets (especially if they decide to add more protein options down the line. Hint hint, powers of THK?).
I only have one complaint, and it’s minor. The bag says that you can add a splash of water to moisten them and feed as a complete meal. However, I didn’t find that hydration them–even though I attempted to mash them up and let them soak for ten minutes–did much. If you’re looking for a fresh, healthy wet food to feed your dog who requires a wet diet for medical reasons, I’d suggest sticking with THK’s other offerings.
Nevertheless, even though I don’t buy many treats these days, I foresee these having a permanent place in our rotation, particularly since they don’t crumble, stink, or leave pockets greasy. If you need to keep high value treats on your person for some reason–say, teaching a new puppy or rescue dog that weird household sounds are nothing to fear, or randomly rewarding recalls and other good behavior throughout the day–these would be ideal.
Disclosure: I did receive a bag of these from THK to try. But before I got a chance to get my hands on that bag, I found myself buying a bag in the store, as I explained above. I’m not sorry at all, because I liked them a lot! We’ll use every single one.