Taggart’s Famous Liver Cake Review

I’m really excited to share one of our favourite treats and a secret weapon for high distraction training! Taggart’s Famous Liver Cake is made locally in Ballymena Northern Ireland from an innovative dog owner who practises reward based training and wanted to create a natural, healthy and high quality treat. I love that it is made locally and by a dog owner with similar ideals as regular readers will know I love to train using positive reinforcement and I’m always coming up with new things to work on with Bonnie.

The liver cake comes in 2 varieties;

  • Treat sized bag – cut into small chunks ready for training
  • Pre-sliced 1kg loaf

Both varieties are meant to be stored in the freezer until ready to defrost for use. It’s hard to miss their lovely branded freezers in store! As we like to do a lot of training with Bonnie we always have a loaf stocked in our freezer. Their products are stocked in independent pet shops and stockists can be found here.

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We defrost slices in the fridge and then they can be used for up to 5 days after defrosting so is really convenient. My absolute favourite part of the loaf is once it’s defrosted it is so easy to cut up into whatever size of treats you want to use whether you want larger or smaller pieces. It’s also really easy to break up by hand when you’re on the go so really is a versatile treat!

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To sum up the Taggart’s Famous Liver Cake range;

Positives

  • Healthy treat with good, real ingredients with no cheap junk fillers, additives or preservatives
  • High value treat – Bonnie loves it even in high distraction training scenarios
  • Soft texture which is easy for dogs to eat – great for rapid rewarding and repetitive training such as clicker training as less time is spent chewing
  • Get a lot of treats per loaf
  • Easy to cut and break into whatever size training treat you want to use
  • Made locally
  • Reasonably priced

Negatives

  • If you wanted to be picky you could say that it needs defrosted before use but I will just chuck a slice into the fridge the day before a big trip out

Overall I cannot fault the product, both me and Bonnie love it and would highly recommend!

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Taggart’s liver cake? I love that stuff!

Check out their website here and their Facebook page here.

Do you have any favourite dog products made locally? We are very lucky that more and more local dog products and services are popping up regularly and I can’t wait to try more out!


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Bonnie’s Portrait by Select Portraits

I was contacted last week by Louis of Select Portraits (Facebook page here) offering an A4 portrait of Bonnie which was so very kind of him to offer and I was thrilled to accept. I had a look at his previous work and was really impressed, I especially loved the artwork of his handsome collie Sherlock! After seeing his work I was super excited to see how he would capture Bonnie and set about choosing a reference photo. It was so hard to pick as we have so many photos of her but I eventually settled on the photo below as it captures her usual little expression as she looks up at us expectantly waiting to see what’s next.

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He was super prompt at finishing the portrait and when he sent us the photo of the finished portrait I was just in awe and being honest I even got a little emotional! He had completely captured her little expression and the fur is so impressive! He even sent us photos of the portrait in progress which was so cool as you could see the work put into it and how he layered up the fur.

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The final piece – I am in love!

In progress photos

Louis had also kindly framed it and made arrangements to meet up to deliver the finished piece. It was so nice to meet him and I am so grateful that he would choose to do a portrait of Bonnie. The finished piece is even more beautiful in real life – photos just can’t quite capture the lovely sense of life in this artwork. I would definitely recommend his work, it is absolutely gorgeous, it’s such a lovely memento to have of your pet and would make a perfect Birthday or Christmas (yes it won’t be long now!) present for any dog or pet lover! Again here are his links – Website & Facebook so go check him out!

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I couldn’t do it justice – it’s difficult to capture properly on camera as it’s reflective

I haven’t been able to pick a spot yet to hang it up as I want it to be somewhere special! I was thinking about hanging it by her crate and have it as a centre piece with her certificates and ribbons around it 🙂


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Pet Munchies Treats Review

It’s been a while since we posted a review so I though I would cover some of our favourite treats! As we are continuously training Bonnie, whether it’s tricks, agility, loose lead walking or just general socialisation, we always have a steady supply of good treats to let her know when she’s doing well.

Pet Munchies are a great brand that use quality human-grade meat with no rubbish filler ingredients. They have a good range of products so you’re bound to find something that your dog enjoys whether they are a fussy eater or have a sensitive stomach or allergies. And even better they are pretty reasonably priced making them great value for money.

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We purchased a box each of the Duck Fillets and the Liver & Chicken Training Treats from Amazon as it was cheaper than buying the separate packets in local shops – retail prices are around £2.99 for the 80g range of treats and £1.60 for the training treats range. And although the initial cost is higher they last a long time.  Each box contains 8 packets and each packet weighs 80g and 50g respectively.

 Very short list of ingredients – click to zoom

Although each packet looks quite small they manage to pack a lot of treats into them, the packets are like a little Tardis!

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The Duck Fillets are a large treat – each about the size of a finger or slightly larger and are pretty chewy so they are better suited to using as high value treats in training or just as a special treat like when leaving them in the crate. We like to use them for recalls and other situations where it’s useful to force Bonnie to slow down slightly as it takes a bit of time to chew. In some situations I find myself running out of treats earlier than anticipated so the great thing about these is that they can be torn (with a bit of effort) into smaller pieces which are great in a pinch.

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One big treat = Seven small but equally tasty treats

The training treats are the perfect size for doing lots of repetitive training such as clicker training and loose lead walking. They are quick and easy for the dog to chew and their small size means it would be difficult to overfeed using these.

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To sum up the Pet Munchies treat range:

Positives

  • A good variety of treats with different meats and treat sizes
  • Quality ingredients with no filler ingredients
  • Reasonably priced
  • Good amount of treats in each packet
  • Come in a resealable packet which is convenient
  • Seem smelly and tasty enough to keep dogs interested & motivated
  • Also supply some cat treats if you also have cats

Negatives

  • I really had to think hard to come up with this negative but sometimes the packets cannot be opened by hand due to the part just above the resealable seal – sometimes it needs to be cut with scissors really close to the resealable part to open fully – something to think about before you take them out on a walk just in case

Overall we love the Pet Munchies treat range! Here’s Bonnie thoughts on their treats;

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Please insert treats here

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ZiwiPeak Dog Food Review

I decided to take the plunge and order the ZiwiPeak dog food after featuring it in my Treats Wishlist recently. I decided to order the Lamb version as Bonnie can sometimes get an upset stomach with new treats but she seems to do better with poultry and lamb than other flavours so thought it was a safer bet.

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Bonnie was straight over and furiously sniffed the bag

I chose to get the 1kg bag and as we were running out of treats fast I was glad to see the size of the bag as it should last a good while. The food itself is a great size and can even be halved for lots of small training treats. Ian Dunbar actually recommends cutting them into 8 or 16 pieces for classical conditioning.

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A handy measuring cup is included for measuring out meals

ZiwiPeak is a premium raw meat air-dried food with 100% natural ingredients and costs around £17 for 1kg or £78 for 5kg for the Lamb and Beef varieties and more expensive for the Venison and Venison & Fish varieties at £23 for 1kg and £98 for 5kg so is very expensive especially for larger dogs that need more food.

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No nasty filler ingredients, all high quality stuff

It is a premium dog food with high quality ingredients and is well rated over at the The Dog Food Directory scoring 4.7 out of 5 but is quite expensive (£2.27 per day for 15kg dog) even in comparison to other highly rated dog foods like Orijen (£0.73 per day for 15kg dog).

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Bonnie’s first taste test

Bonnie’s first reaction was hilarious as she must have loved the smell so much that she carried it across to the rug, dropped it and rolled all over it before finally eating it!

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First impressions – smells so good I need to roll in it first!

I couldn’t justify the price to use as a main dog food but overall I’m really happy with using it for training treats. It’s has high quality ingredients, is a great size that is easy to rip into halves or quarters and should be pretty high value for most doggies.


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Hurtta Training Rope Leash Review

It’s been a while since we did a review so thought we would cover one of our favourite dog products that we have bought. We now mostly use a flexi-lead (shock horror lol) with Bonnie as her lead reactivity and general confidence outside seems much better using the flexi-lead, but we still use this lead now and again.

It has double ended clips and an adjustable length, which makes it is a pretty versatile lead. Also the fact it had a pink option to match Bonnie’s harness helped! It comes in two lengths 2m and 2.5m, we purchased the 2.5m version. I’ll cover some of the uses for the lead then give my opinion below.

Apologize for the no-shoes, kitchen photos but didn’t want to do any outdoor shots because of the aforementioned lead reactivity.

Short Lead – 1.25m ~4ft

ShortLead

Useful for keeping your dog close by on busy streets. You can also incrementally increase the length by clipping the lead further along the different clips on the lead.

Long Lead  – 2.5m ~8ft

LongLead

Great for when you want to give your dog a bit more freedom but aren’t sure whats up ahead, if your dog has poor recall or if (like me) you’re awful at managing a long line xD

Double-Ended lead

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This is useful if you are using a front and back clipping harness for more control or if using a head collar such as a Halti as the lead must also be connected to a harness for safety.

Tandem Lead

No photo for this obviously but if you have two dogs that walk well together it can be used as a tandem lead but I think I would still prefer to have separate leads for dogs for better control.

Hands-Free Lead

If you want your hands free for jogging, running or clicker training you can clip the lead around your shoulder or waist or to a belt/treat bag/carabiner. You can also clip the lead around yourself to keep it out of the way while the dog is off-lead.

Tether

I don’t believe in tying out dogs in front of shops etc but it is useful for tethering dogs if you are beginning to practice stays outside and want extra safety in case they decide to break the stay.

 

Final Opinions

We have had it since May last year so around 10 months now and it is holding up extremely well to all the abuse we have put it through. Between getting muddy, soaking wet, sandy and dragged along pavement it is still in great condition and even though the metal components are a bit scratched up (from letting is drag along the ground) they are still strong and sturdy.

I love how you can easily adjust the length while you’re out and about so can react to different scenarios (making it shorter for people passing by and then longer around grassy/woodland areas for optimum sniffing and exploring). It is really comfortable to hold and has a nice weight to it, it isn’t heavy but it feels sturdy and well made.

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Photo taken in the dark with a flash

It is super reflective so great for walks in the dark. It’s really easy to clean (we just throw it in the washing machine) and dries pretty quickly by putting it over the heater. It also comes in a few different colours so you can match with your dog’s other accessories.

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Comes in  Black, Bolete Cherry, Juniper and Raspberry

Overall I’m really impressed with this lead and highly recommend it. I’ve left the link below to the Hurtta website for more details and where I bought it from (again none of these links are affiliated):

Hurtta Training Leash

Buy from Amazon

 


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Interactive Dog Feeders

Bonnie has a habit of gulping her food down if we put it into a bowl so a few days after we brought her home we have completely ditched feeding from a bowl. Instead we use her breakfast and dinner kibble for either training sessions or put it in an interactive feeder. This has helped with her gobbling her food, gives a great mental workout as she is excited to work for her food and means we can fit training into our daily routine. I do use high value treats for outside training and more distracting/difficult training in general but inside in the living room she is still content to train with kibble.

Bonnie waiting impatiently to receive her peanut butter and kibble kong
Stop taking photos and give me it already!

Bonnie currently has three interactive feeders: Kong original, Kong Wobbler and the Nina Ottisson Brick.

Bonnie enjoying her kong on the rug

We use the original Kong to keep her occupied when she is in her crate.  It is really durable and she hasn’t managed to chew any bits off, for any heavy chewers there is also the Kong Extreme. There are loads of recipes out there (check out this UK based Facebook group for inspiration) which I want to try in future but at the moment we mostly use frozen peanut butter and kibble, or kibble and yoghurt. Bonnie is super food motivated so other dogs might not want to work hard for kibble so other high value treats might be more suitable like liver or fish treats etc.

 Kong wobbler filled with kibbleBonnie batting the Kong Wobbler about for her food

We usually use the Kong wobbler at breakfast time. We have the large size and it fits quite a lot of food. The top screws off so makes it super easy to fill and clean. It is made out of strong durable plastic that is very hard for Bonnie to grip onto with her mouth and I feel that it is generally safe for unsupervised play. She really enjoys playing with it and bats it about with her paws and nose to get the food out. The only downside is that it is quite noisy rolling on any floor except carpet and also hitting into walls.

Nina Ottosson Dog Brick food puzzle filled with kibbleNina Ottosson Dog Brick food puzzle filled with kibble and ready to go

We use the Nina Ottisson Brick whenever we can fully supervise as I would be worried she would eat or ingest the small bones or the brick itself as it is plastic. This fits a lower amount of food and is a bit more awkward to fill and clean than the wobbler. There are different difficulty levels based on whether you use the bones and how many. We really try to encourage her to pick the bones out using her mouth to increase her confidence with picking up items using her mouth – when we first got her she wouldn’t take objects like balls, antlers or dentastixs from our hand. She loves to sniff  out where the last bits of food are. Bonnie finding the kibble from the Nina Ottosson Dog Brick food puzzle

Overall I think interactive feeders are great and I would love to branch out and get more of them so please leave any recommendations in the comments!


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