What You Didn’t Know About Dog Training Treats

When your dog is a puppy, or even if you have an adult dog who needs trained, the training process often involves rewards. And, the reward we provide is what? Treats and lots of praise.

You reward desired behaviors and ignore the ‘bad’ behaviors. A tasty treat along with some praise goes a long way. But, how do you choose which treat to provide your pup with? Is every treat created equal?

Healthy and Nutritious Dog Treats

Since you will be rewarding your dog-in-training often, you must be sure to provide healthy, low-calorie treats. We don’t want our puppy to become overweight or develop health issues from the training process. The treats should be bite-size, and easy-to-chew.

The ideal treat for training is about the size of a penny… and no larger.

The other factor to keep in mind; how much does my puppy (or dog) like the treat? Choosing a treat your pup absolutely loves provides a greater incentive.

You Don’t Need Store-Bought Treats

You don’t need to go to the store and spend a fortune on treats when you’re training. You’re welcome to make treats at home.

Homemade treats allow you to control what goes into your pet’s diet. You’re also able to limit their fat intake, and the number of calories they’re consuming by feeding treats you have made yourself.

Surprisingly, many dogs enjoy what we already have in our refrigerator. Most of the foods we consume ourselves can be cut up into small, bite-size pieces and placed in a Ziploc bag. You’ll have to experiment to find out which ones your dog likes (and doesn’t). But, if he falls in love with a food you have at home, why not?

Small pieces of raw fruits and veggies are commonly enjoyed by dogs. Apples, carrots, broccoli, and green beans are just a few dogs find delicious.

Oh, and the berries. We can’t forget the berries. Let your pup try a few.

In the fall, when pumpkins are plentiful, they’re a great treat to feed your dog. Even if it’s not fall, give it a try. Pumpkins are full of antioxidants, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E. Pumpkins also help with digestion (and they’re good for your pup even if he doesn’t have digestive issues).

Don’t give your dog grapes or raisins, these are toxic to dogs (click here for a large list of toxic foods).

Small pieces of cheese are another great idea, but you can’t provide too much cheese to your pup without giving her an upset tummy.

And just, so you’re aware, peanut butter is a common favorite. That’s no secret. Peanut butter is packed with protein, Vitamin E, Vitamin B, Niacin, AND heart-healthy fats. But, you need to make sure you grab raw, unsalted peanut butter.

The peanut butter we eat now contains an ingredient called Xylitol. Xylitol is common in sugar-free foods, and it’s extremely toxic to dogs. Even if our dog only has a small amount, they could experience low blood sugar, seizures, liver failure, or death. Scary!

What Else Should I Search For (Or Not?!)

If you don’t decide to make the treats at home, steer clear of inexpensive, filler-based treats. Search for treats without artificial flavors, artificial colors, or by-products. The fillers in these treats lead to obesity and dental issues, among other severe health conditions.

Coconut flour is low in carbohydrates (and low in fat!). Incorporating treats containing coconut flour is a good recommendation.

Dogs also often prefer meat-based treats. Now, what treat immediately comes to mind? Usually, it’s jerky. Jerky can be an excellent treat, but you must ensure the jerky is high-quality. The jerky that’s ‘made-in-China’ isn’t the best choice.

Search for jerky that’s hormone-free with no antibiotics. The Real Meat Company is worth looking into if you’re set on jerky.

How Often Can I Reward my Dog?

The smaller, and healthier, a treat is… the more you can reward your dog. Since rewards are a critical part of the training process, we’re looking for treats we can give often. Right? Healthy, natural products are the way to go.

The Bottom Line on Doggy Treats

When you’re looking for a treat, don’t fall for the ‘shiny box’ trick. There are so many treats that look good to the eye, that aren’t good for our dogs. We must look at the ingredients to make sure the treat is healthy for our dog. No, it’s not a fair world we live in where our dogs (and us!) can be deceived by treats that look good, that aren’t good for us. But, our dogs depend on us to make sure they’re healthy.