Training a dog to obey the basic commands (or even some more advanced commands) requires a special treat to encourage them and let them know when the get it right.
What kinds of treats are safe to give them? Which treats are healthy and is there anything in my refrigerator that I can use?
We’ll answer all of these questions for you right here in our guide to the best dog treats for training.
We have done thorough research on all of the products below and deliberately excluded some of the most popular brands for one simple reason: they’re not good for dogs!
If you set out in search of healthy treats to use during training time, you will find them here.
Keep This in Mind When Buying Dog Treats
Before you purchase a treats, here are a few important things to take into consideration:
- Calories. It’s best to opt for a low-calorie treat when you’re training your dog because chances are that you’ll be giving them quite a few rewards.
Too many treats with a high amount of calories puts your dog at risk for obesity (and all of the problems that come with it). Low-calorie treats are best.
- Ingredients. Always check the ingredients on the back (less is more).
In addition to looking for packages that specifically say “low-calorie” on them, avoid those that contain sugar, brown sugar and salt. These are all unnecessary ingredients that are hard on your dog’s system, so be sure to opt for natural, fresh ingredients instead.
- Consistency. Think about the consistency of the treat. If you have an older dog or one with dental issues that makes chewing difficult, you should stick with softer treats.
Top 6 Dog Treats for Training Table
|1. The Honest Kitchen Pecks: Natural Hand-Baked||1 lb. box||$$$$||4.5|
|2. Zuke's Skinny Bakes 10s Dog Biscuit, 12 oz||12-ounce pouch||$$||4.5|
|3. Earth Balance Peanut Butter with Flax Seed |
KONG Stuff-A-Ball Dog Toy
|4. Cloud Star Chewy Tricky Trainers, Salmon Flavor||14-ounce pouch||$$$||4.4|
|5. Halo Healthsome dog biscuits peanut 'n pumpkin||8-ounce pouch||$||4.4|
|6. Fromm Four-Star Chicken with Carrots & Peas||8-ounce package||$$$||4.3|
Don’t forget that there are probably hordes of dog-friendly snacks already sitting in your refrigerator.
- Unsalted/Un-buttered Popcorn.
Small, unflavored and cooked chunks of meat, fish or poultry would also make a great snack alternative. Your dog really doesn’t care if the meat is flavored (that’s the human brain’s way of reasoning).
Other Types of Praise
If you’re worried about providing your dog with too many treats, then don’t forget that healthy doses of verbal praise and physical praise are equally as good for your dog.
- Verbal Praise. Dog’s understand the differences in your voice intonation, so when you speak excitedly and in a louder voice to express your happiness, the dog understands this as a positive reaction from you.
When they do what you ask, be sure to give them an extra-excited verbal response (GOOD dog!) and repeat a few times.
When the don’t do what you ask, simply avoid giving them any type of response (a lack of response is a way to tell your dog that they didn’t do anything to deserve your excited “GOOD dog!” praise).
- Physical Praise. Extra scratching behind the ears or extending the period of time that you spend praising them with petting/scratching is a great way to let your dog know they’ve done something right. It’s also a great alternative to treats if you’ve already given them enough!
- Toys. Reserving a favorite toy for training sessions can be of extra help.
Treats are good, but allowing them to play with their favorite toy for a few minutes between commands can help them feel more relaxed and at ease with the entire training session.
When you take the toy away, don’t give it back until they do what you ask.
Honestly, a mixture of all of these things is probably best when you’re training your dog.
All dogs are different, so make sure you try all of them to see which ones work best with your pooch!
Top 3 Best Dog Treats for Training Reviews
The Honest Kitchen makes some of the best dog treats for training on our list with only 0.6 calories per morsel! That’s exactly what you need when it comes to training.
The morsels are small, making them great for miniature/small breeds and we love that the ingredients are all natural (no by-products used). Just look for yourself!
If your dog isn’t allergic or intolerant to anything on the list, then go for it.
These are tasty, low calories treats that your dog will love to eat as you teach them new commands.
If you have a bigger dog, then Zuke’s Skinny Bakes are a great choice.
Each morsel has under 10 calories and there are over 140 of them in the bag (you’ll have a good stash on hand when you rev up those training sessions).
This is the banana and peanut butter flavor, and here are the ingredients we found:
No sugar or salt added, which we like to see!
They do offer two other flavors if this one doesn’t work for your dog: try the 10-calorie treats, or get all three to offer a variety to your dog!
The last option we have for you is a unique one: a treat lick.
Many of you may have some sort of Kong ball to keep your dog occupied for a while as they slowly work to get the treat out of it and if you’re worried about giving them too many morsels and treat biscuits, then try letting them have a lick of the ball each time they do what you ask.
At the end of the training session, you can always let them have the ball as their final reward (if they have done what you asked) to finish off the treat inside.
We’ve included an organic peanut butter if you’d like to use this as your treat, but you can easily use a cheese inside or something else soft.
The ball comes in four different sizes and it also happens to be a great teeth-cleaning tool, so if you don’t already own one, we suggest you get it and incorporate it into your training routine!