When training your dog, rewards can help keep them motivated in your training session and interested in what you want to teach. Treats and rewards come in a variety of forms, including food, toys, and praise. What your dog will find rewarding depends entirely on your individual canine; whatever they find rewarding is a reward. Many dogs are exceptionally food motivated, meaning treats are very effective in keeping their minds engaged in training. Some dogs aren’t particularly motivated by food, instead preferring toys or physical/verbal praise. The best way to train your dog is to provide a mixture of rewards so that they are never quite sure what to expect and don’t become bored. Training should always be fun and engaging for your pup. In this article, we will be discussing dog training treats, how to use them, and a recipe for making your own at home.
What Makes An Ideal Dog Training Treat?
An ideal dog training treat is small, about the size of a pencil eraser, and soft. Little, soft treats are suitable because your dog can quickly devour them, allowing you to smoothly move on to the next behavior. Another tip is to use a treat bag or training pouch (or even a fanny pack) to keep treats and other training tools easily accessible.
Most importantly, dog training treats are yummy! If you have a picky dog, you may have to try a few different kinds of goodies before finding what works for you.
Something to keep in mind when using treats as rewards is to make sure not to overdo it. Obesity in dogs can lead to significant health problems, so treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s diet. To cut down on calories, try mixing your dog’s regular kibble in with treats for training. Some particularly food-motivated dogs will even accept their kibble as a reward by itself.
Types of Training Treats
Here are some of our favorite types of dog training treats.
Zuke’s Natural Training Dog Treats
Zukes treats are fantastic treats for training. They are small, soft, and made from natural ingredients. There are multiple options to suit your individual dog’s needs. Made in the United States, each recipe is without corn, wheat, soy, fillers, by-products, or artificial flavors.
Nutro Mini Bites Dog Treats
Nutro dog treats consist of real chicken and are yummy, bite-sized snacks. Each treat is less than three calories, making them one of the more diet-friendly training treat options.
L’il Champs Soft & Moist Training Treats
L’il Champs training treats are made with real meat and contain Omega-9. They are low calorie and have no gluten, or artificial flavors added. The turkey flavor can keep your dog focused on training without getting bored with their reward system.
Make Your Own Dog Training Treats
For a healthy and cost-effective dog training treat, try making your own at home with this recipe from Madelynn’s Morsels:
What You Need
- ½ cup water
- 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
- ¼ cup peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.hgz3
- Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Mix water, peanut butter, oil, and honey until well blended. Tip: warm water helps break up the peanut butter and honey better than cold water.
- Slowly add flour, mixing well until you have a dough-like consistency.
- Lightly flour your rolling surface, divide the dough in half, and roll half the dough to ¼-inch thickness.
- Use a knife to cut the dough into small treat-sized pieces (about the size of a pencil eraser).
- Using a toothpick or fork tine, poke a hole into the middle of each treat. This step will prevent bubbling.
- Place treats on cookie sheets and into the preheated oven, then bake for 10 minutes or until treat bottoms are light brown. Then, remove the sheets from the oven and allow them to cool.
Optional: if you dehydrate your treats, then they will last longer. To dehydrate these, place them in a dehydrator at 150 degrees Fahrenheit for 4 hours. Baked treats have a shelf life of about a month, but you can store dehydrated treats at room temperature for up to a year.
Other Dog Training Resources
Picking the right treats for dog training is essential, but there’s plenty of other basics you’ll want to learn before you start training your dog. Here are a few other articles we recommend.
This article discusses other vital tools for training your dog, such as a clicker, long line, and target.
Don’t know where to get started with training? We have a few book recommendations that might help you out. Understand the basics of positive reinforcement and find a few resources to help you start your journey as a dog trainer.
Read this article for some training tips geared specifically towards puppies and younger dogs.
Check out this article for methods of solving common dog problems with practice and your dog training treats.