The 10 Best Dog Training Treats, According to a Professional Dog Trainer
Training is an essential part of being a pet parent, and positive reinforcement (giving your dog a positive stimulus when they perform a desirable behavior) is the best way to train your dog while building your bond.
Treats are one of the best and easiest ways to reward your dog, but there are some things to consider while finding the best dog training treats for your pup. As a professional dog trainer, these are my suggestions on how to find the perfect treats to use while training your dog, plus some of my favorite options so you can maximize your training sessions.
What Makes a Good Dog Training Treat?
It might take some trial and error to learn what flavors your dog loves, but in general, treats should be:
- Small in size for quick, easy chewing
- Low calorie to keep your pup healthy
- Soft and easy to eat without the risk of choking
- High value so your dog wants to earn them
- Smelly! What's smelly to us is usually extra-delicious for your pup
If you get to the bottom of your treat bag, you can sub in small pieces of cheese or bite-sized pieces of cooked meats like chicken, turkey, or ground beef. Don't forget to rotate the treats you give your pup so they don't get bored, and offer something super high-value when they nail an especially hard cue (like performing a flawless recall in a busy area, maybe?).
What To Avoid in Dog Training Treats
The goal for a training treat is that it can be quickly delivered, tasted, and swallowed so the training session can continue and we can keep our dog's focus. So, it's best to avoid:
- Treats that are too large
- Treats that will take too long to eat
- Dry biscuits or anything that could be a choking hazard
Remember, Your Dog Decides the Reinforcer
This is trainer talk for saying that your dog is the one that decides what their reward is, not you. You may find that toys are more effective than treats, you may need to play a game with the food, or you might find that a dog cookie is much more effective than real meat (that's the case with my boy).
So while these are my favorite dog training treats, remember your dog is an individual and should be treated as such.