Best Dog Training Treats: A Review of the Treat Options for Dogs & Puppies
Rewarding your dog or puppy with the best treats for good behavior is a fun and effective way to train.
Feeding a variety of the best dog treats during training, will help to keep your dog from getting bored. It's also helpful to have some lower value treats (like kibble) along with some really valuable treats (like fresh meat) available so that you can reward so-so responses with the so-so treat and great responses with the great treats.
The best dog training treats and puppy treats are irresistibly yummy, easy to break (or small: pea-sized), easy to carry (not greasy or crumbly) and healthy. For puppies and for dogs with sensitive stomachs it is best to stick to treats with simple ingredients that are easy to digest such as low fat meats (chicken, etc).
Don't forget to feed your dog less of his or her regular food when you feed treats and check out our other tips on healthy treating.
Some treat choices are described below:
Using Your Dog's Regular Food as Treats. This is great for puppy treats, for dogs on a diet and really for all dogs!
- Kibble: If your dog likes his dry food enough to do tricks for it you are all set although you may want to toss in a more exciting treat every once in awhile to keep your dog's interest high. One way to make dry food more exciting is to put it in a paper bag with some small pieces of bacon or hotdog for a few hours to let it soak up some of the odor.
- Wet/canned food: This works great when fed with a food tube or in a baby food jar (one lick per trick!).
"People Foods" Make Great Dog Treats: People food makes some of the best dog treats! Dogs love it, it's convenient and healthy.
- Meat baby food out of a jar: Give your dog one lick per trick and then refill the jar with yogurt, cream cheese or peanut butter. This works great for rewarding your dog at the vet.
- Chopped fresh meat: You can dry it out a bit in the microwave by cooking it uncovered for 30 seconds at a time. Any meat works well but if you are using a high fat meat like sausage, only use a small amount.
- Chopped fresh cheese: Mozzarella works well as it is not sticky or crumbly.
- Chopped veggies like carrots: Although dogs can't generally digest these too well so they may come out pretty much the way they went in. Great for dogs on a diet.
- Eggs dried in the microwave: See article here on how to do this.
Store Bought Treats: When purchasing manufactured treats look for treats that are made of high quality ingredients (human-grade/organic) and made in small batches if possible. Look for healthy ingredients like meat, cheese, eggs, nuts, etc and avoid ingredients that you can't pronounce as well as corn and wheat.
- Treats offered by Pet Expertise are all made of human-grade ingredients and the meats are free-range or organic. They are also free of the common allergens, corn and wheat as well as artificial additives of any kind.
Homemade Dog Training Treats: A great way to save money on treats and keep your dog happy to perform.
Tuna Brownies (Adapted from DogAware.com):
- 2 6-oz. cans tuna in water, do not drain
- 2 eggs
- 1 to 1 ½ c. rice or oat flour
- Parmesan cheese
Mash tuna and water in a bowl with a fork to get clumps out, then liquefy in blender or food processor. Add extra drops of water if needed to liquefy completely. Pour into bowl and add flour and mix. The consistency should be like cake mix. Spread into greased or sprayed pan; I find that a round pizza pan or square cake pan is perfect. Sprinkle with LOTS of parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes; edges will pull away and texture will be like putty. Use a pizza cutter and slice into teeny squares. These freeze beautifully, and the dogs love them...and, no liver to mess with!
Turkey Treats (Adapted from DogAware.com):
- 1 lb. ground turkey (pure turkey, NOT turkey sausage)
- 1 cup oatmeal
- 1 egg
- Parmesan (I used 1/2 cup)
Mix all ingredients together using hands and pat into a greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Cool *thoroughly*, then cut into thick strips (these do not hold together when slicing into small squares); freeze unused portions and keep the portions you're using refrigerated. Has the consistency of meatloaf.
Happy treating and training! Let us know in the comments below if you have any other treat ideas to share. If you liked this article, I hope you will consider becoming a customer or sharing it with a friend!
~ Jess, Owner and Dog Trainer
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