How to choose the best treats to reward your dog

Dogs are relatively easy to train, but you can’t expect them to comply with all of your commands right away without some kind of reward. Training treats help motivate dogs and acknowledge correct behaviors.

And just like humans, dogs can have preferences to certain treats over others. Here’s what to consider when choosing treats for your dog.

Ingredients‌

Always check the ingredients of training treats; avoid anything with excessive filler ingredients or artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. Plus, your dog is likely to work harder for a favorite flavor.

Just like the wide range of dog food available, you can find products ranging from simple single-ingredient training treats, to treats made for dogs with dietary restrictions or allergies.

Size

In a training session, a dozen treats for a dozen correct behaviors can fill up your dog, and they’ll be less motivated to work for food. Not to mention that they could put on weight.

That’s why dedicated dog-training treats are usually small and contain just a few calories per piece. And you don’t have to use specifically labeled training treats, but whatever you do use should be small or cut up into smaller pieces.

The size of your dog matters, too, since a treat that seems tiny for a 100-pound dog is going to be more for a 5-pound dog.

Texture

The majority of training treats are either soft or crunchy, so you’ll need to figure out which your dog likes best.

For the most part, soft treats are more palatable to dogs.

Treat value‌

Think of treat value as the difference between being offered an apple or a slice of cake — the cake’s probably going to grab your attention more.

Dogs are more likely to work hard for a high-value treat, such as a piece of sausage, than a low-value treat, such as a small hard treat or piece of kibble.

Of course, high-value treats lose their value when you feed them too regularly, so alternate between treats — perhaps 10 lower-value treats for every high-value treat.

You might also choose to use standard treats for easier training and break out the special treats when teaching your dog something more challenging.

Human foods as treats‌

Some people use morsels of human food as training treats (usually high-value).

If you go this route, choose safe options for dogs, like small pieces of chicken, little cubes of cheese and sliced hot dogs. Stay away from foods full of sugar or artificial ingredients.

Alternative rewards‌ for dog training

Some dogs simply aren’t motivated by food. But there are other ways you can reward your dog during training sessions.

If your dog’s a people pleaser, they may be satisfied with a hefty dose of praise each time they get something right.

Dogs who love to play are highly motivated by the promise of a quick play session with a favorite toy after a handful of repetitions of a new command.

Here are the top-selling dog treats on Amazon

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Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.

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