As a small business owner, and small time dog blogger, naturally, I like and support small, quality businesses! We live in a day and age of huge businesses, and while sometimes that’s good….I still think that there’s a whole lot to be said for a “Mom and Pop” type of business, because those owners have extra personal pride and heart in what they do! Small business owners generally go the extra mile in choosing quality ingredients and often have stellar customer service, and that’s something that’s worth paying a little extra for….as well as the thought that you’re actually making a very real difference in the lives of those small business owners.
I’ve been a Facebook friend with one of the company’s owner for probably three years now. Deb Maloney, her husband Bob, and her dog “Caveman” were one of the first friends who became regular visitors at Rugby’s Facebook page, and, over time, a very nice friendship has resulted. Some time ago, Bob and Deb sent Rugby a bag of Caveman’s Crazy Good Dog Treats to give to Rugby, and I offered to try them out and write an honest review for them. Because we are Facebook friends, I took this opportunity to interview them, and here’s what I learned about what goes into making these homemade treats!!
A few years ago, their Mama dog, Sadie, started having serious seizures at the age of 7. They started making all of her food and treats to keep them as preservative free as possible in hopes that it would help with the seizures and extend her life. They used the same grades of food that they ate themselves, and believe that it helped with the quality and length of time that Sadie lived.
Bob is the creator behind all of the treat recipes, and “Caveman,” Rugby’s BFF, is the official taste tester! If he doesn’t give the treats two paws up, the public never sees them!! (And just between you and I, don’t hold your breath waiting for any blueberry treats. Apparently Caveman gave that idea the boot!!) Once Caveman approves the treat, a small sampling is given to their daughter to use as gifts for her dog grooming clients. If her clients like the treats, they go into pre-production!
This is where I was really amazed at the thorough process that is used before you and I ever see these treats! Once the treats go into pre-production, a sample is sent to a lab in Oklahoma to be tested for crude fiber, moisture, k-calories, and crude fat. When the lab is finished, the results are sent off to the Texas Department of Agriculture. The department who approves the treats is the AAFCO. The AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials), is a regulatory commission that is run by the FDA. They are basically the pet side of the FDA equation, and they are the governing board who approves the product so that it can be added to Caveman’s inventory.
When the specific new treat is added to Caveman’s inventory, they are freshly baked and bagged….all from home! In the recipes that have meat, it is the first ingredient, and it’s human grade….just like you or I would eat. The treats are dehydrated in an effort to remove as much moisture as possible. That extends their shelf life without having to add any preservatives or artificial ingredients. To help them last as long as possible, it is recommended that you refrigerate the treats, right in their bag. However, the shelf life is 3-5 months, just in case you wondered!
Rugby always likes anything that comes in the mail with his name on it!! When I opened the box, he was naturally curious to know if there was anything it if for him! The bag of treats was packed very well with plenty of packing so that the bag wasn’t crushed or crunched in any way, protecting the treats nicely inside.
When I first pulled the bag out of the packing box, I thought that it was the cutest treat bag, and loved the homespun simple look of brown paper bag with custom stickers identifying what was inside. I loved the fact that it looked professionally homemade rather than mass produced in a factory, and I saw “Caveman’s” photo, the dog that I love, staring out at me from the top of the bag. I also immediately saw a red stamp in the shape of Texas on the bag with “Go Texan” under it. Those small touches made me smile. When someone adds those types of little personal touches to the bag that holds the treats, I always hope that the treats themselves will show the same level of care! It was clear that love had been baked into each little bite that peeked out at me through the little window in the bag.
Turning the bag over, I saw the information I wanted to know about what was inside!! The ingredients are plain, simple, clean and healthy: Peanut Butter, Flour, Oats, Low Sodium Beef Stock. That’s it! No additives, preservatives, or artificial coloring! Just the type of treat that I like to choose for Rugby!
The front of the bag said that the training nibs were “peanut butter and bacon,” but I didn’t see any bacon or pork in the ingredients list. Frankly, for me….that’s perfectly fine, because Rugby and I lovingly support a rescue pig in a wonderful West Virginia animal sanctuary ( see http://rugbyjames.com/2016/07/06/make-a-difference-wednesday-one-small-dogs-dream/). Because of our pig Oliver, I choose not to eat any pork products, and honestly try not to offer those to Rugby as well because there are many other meat protein sources for him.
When I opened the bag, there really wasn’t any smell to the treats to distinguish any specific flavor. I only knew that they were peanut butter and bacon because the label told me so. For anyone with a sensitive nose, this might be something helpful! As a dog trainer, however, I was looking at the treats through a dog training lens, because they were labeled as “training nibs.”
To be successful in training a dog, I think it’s a great idea to have several different types of dog treats with each one having a different “value.” Dog food kibbles might have a value of 1, and fresh meat would have a value of 10, for example. However, there are eight other values between the two, and it’s helpful to have treats with values falling from 2-9. Various training situations will be successful when an owner chooses the right treat value for that specific training moment. Only your dog can tell you what the value of this specific treat might be. I can only tell you Rugby’s perspective on them!
When I poured a few treats into my hand, I have to say that I honestly loved the fact that all of them were different sizes. They ranged in size from about a quarter to a dime, and I really did love that! It just confirmed to me that these treats had been lovingly and carefully handmade especially for my Rugby James. It made me smile!
The treats were very easily broken into smaller pieces, but they did crumble a bit like a soda cracker would. I’m sure Rugby could smell them, because he was very interested in these marvelous items in my hand! As I handed him one, he scarfed it right down, licked his chops and looked for more! When I hold a piece of food out for him, Rugby rarely investigates things that smell good…he definitely eats first and asks questions later!
For me, in my standard training sessions with Rugby, I found that I couldn’t really break the treats small enough to work for what I normally like to do. Generally, when I am doing a training session, I like to use training treats that are sized about like a piece of dog kibble. I just couldn’t work with these in that capacity, because they crumbled when I tried to break the larger pieces to fit what I needed.
Instead, I found myself using these treats when I needed a quick reward in the kitchen. Times when they came in very handy were when I needed to switch on the garbage disposer and didn’t want Rugby to react to the noise. Or…when Rugby saw a squirrel outside the kitchen window and I needed to redirect his focus and attention to work instead of barking and bouncing at the window! It was great that I could keep two or three out in a small dish on the kitchen counter for that purpose. Because they didn’t have a strong smell and because they weren’t soft treats, they were just perfect to use in those types of training situations for Rugby.
They stayed fresh for several weeks, but as recommended, I kept them in the refrigerator. The package was a homespun brown paper bag, but it had a cellophane lining top to bottom inside. The opening of the bag had a built in wire closure, so I could simply roll down the top of the bag, bend the wires closed, and seal the bag. I like easy to close bags, and many of the “self sealing” bags, simply aren’t! This bag was easy to use, and the smaller size meant that it didn’t hog a huge space in the refrigerator!
These Peanut Butter and Bacon Training Nibs are only one type of treat that is offered at “Caveman’s” Etsy store. Other offerings include Chicken and Vegetable, Beef and Vegetable, Chicken Jerky and Beef Jerky. A brand new treat is undergoing the pre-production process now, and is expected to join the line soon. Only the training nibs are available in bite sized pieces. The other treats are available in standard dog biscuit form, which are too large to be used as a training reward, but would make a great healthy special treat to reward a vet visit, nail trim, groomer visit, etc. The prices of the treats range from $5.25 (5 oz bag) for the training nibs, to $15.99 (8 oz bag) for the jerky treats. They offer a choice in shipping preferences, so you can adjust your cost depending upon your shipping method.
The treats are available locally at Cypress Ace Hardware store in Cypress for my Texas readers, and also through Heather’s Mobile Pet Salon, but most folks will find them online at their Etsy store, “Caveman’s Creations.” Here’s a link for you: https://www.etsy.com/shop/cavemanscreationsllc.
You’re also going to want to check out their Facebook page, because currently, there’s a great coupon being offered through this week. If you buy $25 in treats, you’ll get a $5 discount!! That’s a great incentive to give these treats a try! Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/Cavemanscreationsllc/.
Disclaimer: Rugby James received one bag of Caveman’s Crazy Good Peanut Butter and Bacon Training Nibs free of charge. I offered to provide an honest review and was not compensated by Caveman’s Creations in any way. All opinions expressed are my own. I only share products that I like and think will interest my readers.