Thursday, 19 July 2012

In praise of squeezy cheese


It’s not often we’re moved to try and summon up a prose poem in honour of processed food, but in the case of squeezy cheese, we feel we have to try.

Our enthusiasm is, naturally, dog training related.  Dogs essentially work for pay* – pretty much like you, we’d suspect. So if you’re trying to train them to do something you want – like come when called, you need to reward the right behaviour. And when it comes to rewards, for many dogs, squeezy cheese is the equivalent of the banker’s bonus. 

It’s works, too, for dogs who are anxious or fearful about something and you want to change their attitude and associate what they’re afraid of – be it other dogs or postmen or visits to the vet with something really positive.

All in all, we love squeezy cheese and if we could re-patent it as a semi-automatic, resealable, high motivation treat delivery system, we surely would, but the manufacturers would probably stick a law suit on us.

Why do we love it? Well, let us count the ways:

For getting your dog to think good positive thoughts about stuff he or she is really not sure about, it’s good because:
1. Most dogs love it – even the words ‘squeezy cheese’ make our two snap to drooling attention in a way that would have Pavlov giving high fives from his grave
2.You can prolong the delivery of the treat– something that’s really hard to do with meat or biscuit treats. That can be very, very helpful if your dog is afraid of other dogs or strangers and you’re trying to get over the tricky ‘growling and lunging whenever they see one’ problem. With squeezy cheese, you can keep on giving them just a taste as long as the scary thing is in view. But keep it just for those occasions, don’t make it a general treat.
3. If you’ve got a fearful lunger and growler, other dog owners see what you’re doing – so they know you’re doing your best to try and do something about it. That way, you get more sympathy votes than disapproving muttering (and let’s face it, sometimes you really need more of the former and a good deal less of the latter)
4. It’s great for getting a dog gradually accustomed to a Halti, Gentle Leader or muzzle if you need one. (No, they really won’t just take to it like a duck to water – you have to work at it)

And as a reward, it’s perfect because:
5.You can dispense teeny, tiny amounts and they still love you for it and think it’s worth doing the right things to earn it
6.As with point 2- you can reward your dog for staying calm over a period when he’d otherwise be out-of-control excitable
7.It’s easy to carry around in your pocket and even when you’re right at the end of the tube, even just the smell of it is enough

We could go on – but you get the idea. OK – you may have to fumble a bit with the cap occasionally, but your dog will know what’s coming. Of course, for those of you who are health or, indeed, health and safety minded, we should say: Only give your dog the smallest taste each time – don’t over do it or they’ll end up overweight. And always put it back in the fridge at the end of the walk or training session.

So there we are: the glory that is squeezy cheese. Simple, lovely tubes of cheese spread that you can get in any supermarket. Shall we compare thee to a marrowbone? Though art more succulent and more portable……


* If you want to know more about how dogs learn to earn, see our website: http://www.waggamania.com

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