Dog training and treats go together like peanut butter and jelly. Positive reinforcement is one of the most effective ways to train a dog, but you’ll need plenty of treats to get the job done. The question is: what are the best training treats for dogs?
The best treats are the ones your dog finds irresistible. And there are a few different types to choose from.
Your Pup’s Regular Dry Food
Do you feed your dog dry food? If so, you can use some of those kibbles as treats during your training sessions. This is a really great option for puppies or dogs who are on diet, but works well for all dogs.
To keep your dog’s interest, you may want to change things up from time to time. Some dog trainers recommend putting a few bits of kibble in a paper bag with a few pieces of bacon, and letting the kibble bits soak up the bacon flavor. Your dog is sure to go bonkers for his new bacon-y kibble treats.
The Right “People Foods”
Dog training treats don’t have to be fancy or expensive. Sometimes, the best treats are “people food”. Just make sure you choose the right foods. Not all human foods are fit for dog consumption. Heck, some human foods aren’t even fit for human consumption.
Here are some ideas:
- Veggies. Chopped vegetables, like carrots, broccoli and green beans, make great treats. This is a really great option for dogs who are watching their figures.
- Chopped fresh meat. Any meat will do, but just be mindful of any seasonings or sauces used on the meat. Garlic and onions are big no-nos for dogs.
- Cheese. A few small pieces of chopped cheese can make for a decadent treat. Plain mozzarella is a great option, and won’t leave a mess behind.
- Yogurt. Some dogs love yogurt, and a little bit is okay in moderation.
- Eggs. Cooked eggs are a great treat for dogs.
For most dogs, people food is the ultimate treat. Just make smart choices when giving them. And be careful with dairy – many dogs can’t tolerate it.
Of course, you’ll find plenty of commercial treats in pet food stores – and supermarkets, too. Some treats are healthy for dogs, while others are, well, junk food.
When buying treats in the store, pay attention to first few ingredients. Make sure they are healthy for your dog. Ingredients like meat, eggs, cheese and nuts are better options. Smaller sized tidbits or treats that can be broken into little sizes are best for training.
Homemade Dog Treats
Want complete control over what’s in your dog’s treats? Why not make them yourself? There are plenty of great dog treat recipes out there to help you get started.
The most important thing is to keep the ingredients simple. Some classic ingredients in homemade dog treats include:
- Pumpkin puree
- Whole wheat flour
- Peanut butter
Feel free to be as creative as you want. Just be sure to choose ingredients that are safe for your pup to eat.
VIDEO: The Best Dog Training Treats!
Looking for an easy homemade treat to use during training? Here is a good healthy option from the folks at Preventative Vet.
Need more? Here are a few tips from dog trainer Faris Jaclyn.
High Value Treats
We use a treat that’s extremely yummy so it grabs our dog’s attention. If something is held at a higher value to the dog they will want to work harder in order to get it. Try a unique flavor your dog doesn’t eat a lot, like liver, cheese, or salmon. Find out what texture your dog likes, typically dogs go nuts for ‘Chewy’ treats!
Small Portions of Treats
We do not want our dogs to eat too many treats and we don’t want our dog to expect a huge prize for small actions either. Pick a treat that’s small and can be chewed quickly. We want our dogs to get back to training and focus on us! – Not to take their time chewing away on their treat.
Treats are a great incentive – they can make training fun for your dog, especially if he/she is very food motivated. But you shouldn’t have to reward your dog for every single correct behavior. If you dog doesn’t know a trick, you can use a treat to help entice him (or her) to learn. But treats should only used in the beginning of training – if the dog knows the trick, that’s the cue you don’t need the treats any more.
Finding the best training treats for your dog is simple. The key is to find a treat he really loves. The more valuable the treat is, the more effective your training will be.