Dogs are wonderful creatures, but they aren't born knowing how to exist in the human world. Training your dog enhances your dog's safety, reduces destructive and other unwanted behaviors and is a great way to provide mental stimulation and bonding time. Many dogs learn better when provided with rewards to reinforce desirable behavior. Training treats can be a good source of positive reinforcement.
What To Look for in a Good Training Treat
There are many different kinds of treats available for dogs. Some are intended purely for your dog's enjoyment. Others provide an outlet for your dog's natural chewing instincts. Training treats are intended specifically for use during training sessions. Many commercial products are labeled as "training treats," but it can be helpful to know what to look for.
1. Small Size
For most types of training, your dog will receive multiple rewards per training session. Large treats don't work very well for multiple reasons. First, if the treats have too many calories, your dog could gain weight. Second, you usually don't want your dog spending your training time gnawing on a huge treat. Small treats are best for training sessions.
For most types of training, you need to be able to carry your treats around in a bait bag or a pocket. Treats that are messy or crumble easily may not be good choices.
3. Quick Eats
Treats that take more than one bite for your dog to consume are not great training choices. You don't want to be left standing around waiting for your dog to finish chewing. Avoid crunchy or chewy treats.
It's OK to give your dog the occasional piece of hot dog or other tasty, but not particularly nutritious, treat, but for regular training, it is best to stick to treats with high-nutritional value. Look for treats that are made in the USA and are USDA-inspected. If your dog has allergies or other dietary restrictions, talk to your vet before selecting treats.
Most dogs love smelly foods. The more difficult the training you are doing is, the better treats you need to keep your dog motivated. Stinkier treats are often considered tastier treats to your dog.
Recommended Training Treats
There are many great treats on the market, but these are a few of the best.
Zuke's Mini Naturals Dog Treats - Duck
Zuke's Mini Naturals dog treats are small, under three calories each and contain no corn, wheat or soy. They are available in six and 16-ounce sizes. The treats are manufactured in the USA and made from natural, healthy ingredients. These treats are healthy, portable, small, easy to eat and low in calories, making them a great choice for everyday training.
The Natural Dog Company 95% Duck Training Bites Dog Treats
These treats from The Natural Dog Company are made from 95% meat, which makes them a great choice as a high-value treat. Dog's are omnivorous and most do well on a balanced diet that includes meats, fruits, vegetables and grains. However, many dogs love the taste of meat. Meat treats can be a good choice when you need to pull out the best treats for a training session.
These treats have a soft texture and can easily be broken into smaller pieces, but they won't get sticky or crumble in your pocket. They contain no wheat, corn, soy, fillers, preservatives or artificial flavors. The only ingredients are duck and vegetable glycerin.
Cloud Star Soft & Chewy Tricky Trainers Dog Treats - Chicken Liver Flavor
Cloud Star's training treats contain no artificial colors or flavors, soy, wheat or corn. They are made in the USA. These soft treats don't dry out or crumble in your treat bag and have less than three calories each. They are available in five and 14-ounce bags.
KONG Bites Mini Dog Treats - Beef
These mini treats can be used for any time treating, but are also small enough to make good training treats. They are grain-free, made in the USA and designed to fit in any KONG Classic toy or treat dispenser. The main ingredient is lean beef. The treats feature a smell that is sure to get your dog's attention.
Fruitables Skinny Minis Dog Treats - Grilled Bison
The small size and low-calorie content of Fruitables treats make them perfect for small dogs or training treats for larger dogs. They are grain-free and packed with superfoods. While the treats contain plenty of plant-based nutrition, they also have a grilled bison flavor that is sure to get your dog salivating. They contain no corn, wheat, soy or artificial colors or flavors. They are made in the USA from globally sourced ingredients.
Ziwi Good Dog Rewards Air-Dried Venison Dog Treats
These Ziwi dog treats are made from 96% meat, making them another good choice for high-value treats. They are made from New Zealand free-range, grass-fed venison that has been air-dried to preserve flavor and nutrients. Includes cold-washed green tripe, organic kelp and New Zealand green mussels for an extra boost of nutrition. The ingredients are all sustainably and ethically sourced and contain no added hormones or antibiotics.
With so many great training treats to choose from, you are sure to find at least one that your dog loves. However, you may want to purchase a variety of treats to make sure your dog stays interested and motivated during your training sessions. If your dog seems to be losing interest in your go-to treats, experiment with some other treats until you find the one that gets his engine revving again.