Bil-Jac Frozen Food as Treats

12 May 2005Steve Schwarz

When I first started dog training I used to think Mr. Peabody had no interest in treats. He never showed any interest in any treats we tried. Well the problem was we used lame treats. It wasn’t until we put Milo into a basic obedience class that Judy at Lincolnwood Dog Training Club showed me the light. She started the first session of class with a fanny pack stuffed with a dozen different kinds of high value treats. She worked with each dog and handler and helped us find that Milo loves liver-garlic treats. Unfortunately at that time his stomach was too sensitive to take too many really rich treats.

Over the years I've used any number of treats including: fancy "official training treats", cheese, cat food, and even very fragrant fish based kibble for sled dogs. Recently I'd been using Canidae kibble from Milo's food bowl (Milo loves it, it's a small pea-shaped size and it's dry so I can leave it in the treat bag without fear of it spoiling).

I was at Dana Pike’s agility class a few months ago and she brought out a bag of Bil-Jac Frozen food that she was using as treats. All the dogs went nuts as she walked by with the open bag. Milo even took his eyes off his spit-soaked tennis ball and started to follow her. Dana gave me some during class and I had a powerful reward for Milo when he nailed a contact or a weave pole entrance. There is something about that food that our dogs (and many others) really love. I heard someone calling it “Canine Crack” for its addictive properties.

The food is extruded into ~1/4 inch diameter “worms”. They can be broken into nice small pieces or smashed into larger “jackpot” sized balls when defrosted. The only concern is that you have to use this fresh food soon after defrosting or it will spoil. So I keep mine in the freezer and break off some before class and put it into a small baggie.

Now for the bad news. Since this food is packed fresh frozen Bil-Jac won’t ship it very far from their Ohio factory. If you call the Bil-Jac help line they get pretty grumpy if you express your interest in the fresh food and ask about its availability. In fact they don’t even list it on their website. In the past you could order it online from various places and have it shipped on dry ice in a cooler. But now none of the online pet food suppliers will ship it. Even though the shipping costs far outstripped the cost of the food, it is only ~$1 a pound for the food, I know I was willing to pay the premium.

The closest place we can get it from Chicago is Petsmart in Indianapolis, IN (~5 hours away). Luckily there are great agility folk in our area who can bring back a bag on ice from time to time. So I’d recommend trying a small bag for use as treats if you can get this food in your area.

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