My name is Mel, and I used to believe that my dogs loved Bil Jac Liver Treats and wouldn’t perform for anything else.
That is, of course, until after being somewhat broke after an unexpected expense, I decided to try making my own liver treats.
And what do you know: dogs love liver treats, even the ones you bake in the oven and that make your house smell all livery for days! They love them so much that the mere suggestion of the crinkle of the Liver Treat Bag has them skidding into the kitchen and falling all over the place for just one more liver treat! If a Bil Jac Liver Treat will get a good firm “sit!”, a homemade liver treat will get a sit, a speak, a high-five AND a down in the fastest succession you’ve ever seen. If Bil Jac treats are steroids, homemade liver treats are like whatever Superman’s parents fed him as an infant. You get the picture.
I found these recipes on DogAware.com. I’ve tried a few of them, and the dogs have loved all of them, but the liver brownies are their absolute super-favorite. Once you get over pureeing chicken livers, it’s a snap to make, and the brownies can be cut up into tiny pea-sized pieces for training.
Liver Brownies (for dogs)
1 lb liver, any kind
1 cup corn meal*
1 1/2 cups flour *
1 tsp fresh minced garlic OR 1/2 tsp garlic powder (I use a tiny sprinkle on the top)
1 tsp fennel or anise seed (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
Pat liver dry with paper towel. Cut into small chunks and grind in blender or food processor (or just throw them in a blender, like I did. Make sure you include the center part in the blender. This is important if you don’t want your kitchen to look like the Donner party just had an especially large snack on your counters). In large bowl, mix liver with corn meal and flour. This will be very stiff and all the flour may not blend in, so add gradually add garlic and salt. Spread mixture on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Allow to cool 10 minutes; cut into squares. May be refrigerated or frozen.
*Note about corn meal and flour: I always start with the basic measurements, but to get the consistency of treat that I can use during training (think, a semi-chewy but definitely dry, mostly crumb-free treat) I usually end up adding 3/4 to 1 cup more flour, and about a 1/2 cup more corn meal. I knead until it’s fairly stiff, and then spread on a large cookie sheet so it’s about a 1/2 inch in thickness. It doesn’t shrink much when in the oven.
**Note about using liver brownies as training treats in class: you will be irresistible to not only your dog, but nearly every other dog in class. You will sometimes find noses in your treat bag that don’t belong to your dog. Every dog will want to be your friend with these liver treats.
The link also has several other recipes, some of which contain meat and others that contain fish or no meat at all. The dogs love the “Go Bananas!” and “Tuna Training Treats” as well. If you’re ever feeling adventurous and want to try out something that doesn’t come in a plastic bag at Petsmart, I highly recommend giving these a go.