Before you choose a treat, there are a few things to consider. Such as, how many treats you’ll be feeding, the value of the treat, what the treats will be used for, how many calories are in the treats, and the age of the dog.
How many treats will you be feeding?
This question seems straight forward, but it’s really not. If you’ll be feeding an occasional reward or recreational chew, it’s not as important to balance the daily diet. But if you’ll be using the treats for daily training sessions, the quality, calories, and the value of the treat becomes more important. For these reason, you’ll want different treats for different situations.
What is treat value?
Treat value can be thought of as a paycheck. The more drool worthy the treat, the more it’s worth. If you’re practicing simple training, perhaps any treat the dog likes will do. But if you’re working on harder training, wanting to entice your dog, add some fun to the training, or working on something your dog is reluctant to do, a higher value, or yummier treat, should be used.
What will the treat be used for?
You should use different treats for different reasons. For instance, you may want to carry a simple treat with you to reward your dog as you train throughout the day. However if you’re working on training, a different training treat should be used to signal to the dog that it’s time to get serious. The value of this treat will be determined by how hard the dog is working and how much treat it takes to get the job done.
How many calories are in the treats?
The calories, fat, and type of treat should be considered and deducted from the dog’s daily calories. While this may not be as important for all dogs, it can be. It’s also important to know how much you’re feeding growing puppies and senior dogs.
You don’t want to reduce their nutrients they get from their food too much. A good rule of thumb is to stick with no more than 10% of the daily calories coming from treats. One way to add more “treats” by not reducing nutritional value is to use high value dog FOOD as treats, see below.
How old and how healthy is the dog eating the treats?
Picking age appropriate treats is important. Young, healthy dogs can get away with eating a large variety of treats. Meanwhile, puppies may have a more sensitive digestive system. Older dogs may need lower calories and lower fat treats. Dogs with allergies, sensitivities, and health problems will also need special treats.
How to use training treats
Training treats are used to reward dogs for good behavior. They can be used to lure dogs, mark desired behavior, and praise for a job well done. They’re not simply a bribe, they’re used as an encouragement and reward because most dogs love them. Plus, it makes them happy.
You can carry treats with you to reward your dog throughout the day as well as use them in training. They can be used in obedience as well as when teaching tricks. They can be used to convince your dog to do a certain behavior (lure) when you ask them to.
Whatever treats you choose, use single small bites for each reward. Praise or mark the behavior, then feed the treat. For instance, if you’re teaching a dog to sit, as soon as their butt hits the ground, praise/mark the sit, then give the treat.
The Best Training Treats
Here are our best suggestions for training treats. These are just examples; we’re not recommending any one particular brand or another. Rather we’ve chosen these since they’re readily available, use them ourselves, or know someone who does.
Training puppies usually requires lots of treats so one of the best treats for puppies is their kibble. Simply carry a portion of their food with you and use it as a treat as you train them throughout the day. If they’re kibble isn’t ‘special’ enough, you may be able to use another kibble just for training. Other ideas for puppy training treats include:
1. Zukes Mini Naturals Peanut Butter and Oat Treats
2. Diamond Naturals Puppy Biscuits
3. Wellness Soft Puppy Bites
4. Blue Buffalo Baby Training Treats (beef, chicken, salmon, turkey, lamb)
5. Wellness Soft Puppy Bites
Healthy dogs of all ages enjoy these treats:
1. Zukes Mini Naturals Treats (liver, rabbit or chicken)
2. Stewart Pro Treat, Beef Liver, Freeze Dried
3. Natural Balance Roll (cut into small bites)
4. Merrick Power Bites (wide variety of protein options)
5. Grandma Lucy’s Oven Baked Dog Treats
Aging Dog Training Treats
1. Fruitables Skinny Mini Apple Bacon
2. Natural Balance Mini Rewards
3. Annamaet Lean, Reduced Fat Treats
4. Fromm Crunchy O’s
5. SportMix Wholesomes Lite Biscuits
Special Needs Dog Treats:
Dog suffering from IBS, sensitive digestion, or kidney disease require special treats. Here are some options aside from home cooking:
1. Purina Pro Plan Gentle Snackers
2. RX Canned Food
3. Matties Kidney Disease Dog Treats
4. Royal Canin (RX treats for different health problems)
5. Hills (Rx treats for different health problems)
Dog Food That Works Great As Treats:
Using high value dog food as treats can save you a lot of money because it comes in larger packages. Here are some of our favorites:
1. Stella and Chewy Patties (broken into bites, writer’s choice)
2. Stella and Chewy Wild Weenies (broken into bites)
3. Honest Kitchen Whole Food Clusters
4. Primal Freeze Dried Nuggets
5. Vital Essential Mini Nibs, Freeze Dried
Treats from your kitchen:
Running low on treats? Try these:
1. Boiled chicken
2. Ground turkey
3. Baby food
5. Sweet potato bites
We hope your pup enjoys these training treats. We’d love to hear how they work out for you and what your favorites are. Please pass this info along to your friends.