For a dog, there is nothing more rewarding than a crispy, crunchy treat received upon a job well done. Nothing, perhaps, other than a crispy, crunchy homemade treat. There are hundreds of canine biscuit recipes, online and in books, containing ingredients that range from chicken and bacon to green beans and rice. Biscuits are relatively easy to make, and are a fun way to let man's best friend know how much you care.
Most dog treats contain some type of flour--wheat, whole wheat, cornmeal or rice flour, or a combination. The flour is the foundation of the treat. Some contain yeast, powdered milk, baking powder, egg, milk or powdered milk. The liquid is usually water or meat stock, if not milk, but dog biscuits can also be made with applesauce or any type of vegetable or fruit purée. A binder such as oil or butter must be used or the biscuit will fall apart. Most treats also contain a type of meat or vegetable as the key ingredient. Though there are vegetarian treat recipes, biscuit recipes containing meat are more prevalent because dogs like the taste of meat.
Dog biscuit flavours have a wide range. Chicken, turkey, sausage, beef, pork and bacon are popular among pooches, though for dogs who have difficulty stomaching meat, flavours such as peanut butter, cheese, banana, cinnamon, corn and garlic are also acceptable for dogs. Most recipes call for a combination of flavours, such as rice and bananas or bacon and garlic. Mint is often added to improve dogs' breath.
The biscuits can be made by hand or in a bread machine. Mixing by hand is the preferred method as dog biscuits are a one-bowl recipe and the only equipment necessary is a spoon, bowl, cutter and tray. You do not need to worry about overworking the dough, as many recipes call for a "dry-out" period of resting in a low-temperature oven for a couple of hours.
The classic shape for most dog biscuits is the bone. If you use a roll-out recipe, use whatever cookie cutters you have on hand. For smaller dogs or for making training treats, use smaller cutters such as small hearts or stars, or roll the dough into small balls.
There are dozens of dog biscuit recipes available in print and online. Books such as "The Ultimate Dog Treat Cookbook: Homemade Goodies for Man's Best Friend" by Liz Palika and Troy Cummings (2005), and "The Organic Dog Biscuit Cookbook: Over 100 Tail Wagging Recipes" by Jessica Disbrow Talley and Eric Talley (2008) are among top sellers. Recipes can also be found on myriad websites.
For a basic dog biscuit recipe, in a food processor, combine 2 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup dry milk, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp salt and mix well. Add 1 egg, 6 tbsp oil and 3/4 c. water. Roll out to 1/2-inch thickness, cut with a cookie cutter. Bake for 25 minutes in a 350°F oven until hard and dry. Cool and store in an airtight box.