Dog Treats for Training

Dog treats for training should be small, healthy, palatable, and low in calories. This page looks at some of the best training treats for puppies and dogs, as well as some homemade treats that can be used as training treats.

Dog Treats for Training Dogs learn by association and reinforcement - If you want to train your dog, rewarding the wanted behavior with a "high value" tasty treat will make him associate that behavior with a highly desirable outcome (the yummy treat).

Repeating this "good behavior - tasty treat" cycle will reinforce the behavior and most dogs will learn in a relatively short period of time.

So... if you want to train your dog to "come", or "roll over", or do any new trick on command, you need some high value dog training treats ready to reward the dog.

What Makes Good Dog Treats for Training?

Since dog training treats have to be given out repeatedly (particularly with puppies - sometimes you may need to reward over 50 times in a short half-hour training session!), training treats should be:

  • Small: Size is important when it comes to choosing dog training treats. Since we have to dole out a lot of treats during a training session, we should choose a treat that is small (no bigger than a penny) and low-calorie so the weight of the puppy/dog can be maintained at a healthy level.
  • Nutritious: This is a no brainer - as we will be giving the treats to our dogs frequently, the treats have to contain natural, healthy ingredients beneficial to the dogs' health.

    If you choose to buy treats for training, avoid getting cheap "colorful" ones that may look (and smell) yummy, but which use sub-standard ingredients (think "animal by-products", fillers such as corn gluten meal, sugars, chemical preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, etc.)

    All these bad ingredients bring in little or no nutrients; instead they could lead to obesity, dental issues, and other health problems down the road.

  • Highly Palatable: "Palatability" is a subjective matter - while Fido may find chicken palatable, Rover may prefer cheese... Therefore, find a treat that is highly palatable to YOUR dog.

Here are a few commercial dog treats for training that meet the above criteria:

Homemade Dog Training Treats

You may wonder if homemade dog treats for training would work.

Sure it would - but you may have to try making several types of treats to see which one(s) your dog likes the best.

My dog is easy - she loves all foods, so she is easy to train and easy to please! However, some dogs are more finicky when it comes to food, so be prepared to try different recipes and ingredients. Remember, the higher the value of the treat, the more eager and faster your dog will learn!

Some suggestions of homemade dog treats for training:

  • Veggies and Fruit: The easiest training treats to make are chunks of uncooked fruit and veggies (that are safe for dogs).

    Some safe veggies for dog training treats include apples, carrots, and broccoli. Just cut them up into bite-sized pieces and you are ready to go. Berries such as blueberries and strawberries are good treats as well. The good thing about using fruit and veggies is that they are low-calorie and you can give a bit more to the dog.

  • Cooked Meat: Dogs like meat-based treats, so you can either pouch some chicken breasts and chop them up into bite-sized pieces, or make chicken jerky (see this recipe). Of course, you can use other meat such as turkey, lamb, beef, etc.
  • Homemade Biscuits: You can also use homemade biscuits as training treats. Most recipes on this site make good training treats - you only have to make them smaller.

How about cheese? Some people use chunks of cheese as a training treat for dogs since most dogs LOVE cheese. However, since cheese is rather high-calorie, and too much cheese may cause tummy upsets, I would only use cheese sparingly as a "super high value" training treat (e.g. when my dog has learned a difficult new trick).

GR with a rolling pin

Fido's Recommendations

Here are just a few recipes from this site that I LOVE and can be used to make great training treats for puppies and dogs: