Training is an important part of introducing puppies to the world. New puppy owners are responsible for teaching how to behave in the home, outdoors and with others. When it comes to puppy training, treats are a must-have reinforcement tool, acting as a reward for good behavior.
Most dogs undeniably have a strong love for food, so the temptation of a treat will persuade them to remain attentive and respond correctly to commands. Soon enough puppies will learn that when they perform the desired behavior, they will earn a treat. This process is known as positive reinforcement.
Before using training treats, the most important factor to consider is which food is best for encouraging a response from your pup. Taste, for example, is essential. After all, a command is only worth responding to if the treat is tasty! We have hand selected the most mouth-watering, nutritional and fast to eat treats available, so you can start puppy training straightaway.
- 1 The Best Puppy Treats for Training: Reviewed
- 2 So Which Option Is Best? Our Winners
- 3 Buyer’s Guide: What Makes a Good Food Treat for Puppy Training?
- 4 Tips to Follow When Rewarding With Treats
- 5 Final Thoughts On How to Choose the Best Puppy Training Treats
What are the basic tools to use for puppy training?
There are many tools that owners can use for puppy training. Clickers, target sticks, treats, leashes, collars or harnesses and crates are just a few named examples.
What are the benefits of using treats for puppy training?
While there are numerous ways to reward puppies for a job well done, food treats are by far the most convenient and effective way to motivate puppy behavior. Finding the right excitable treat for your puppy may involve a little trial and error.
How can I find the best puppy treats for training?
As well as the taste, there are many features to look out for when selecting the perfect treat for your puppy. These include treats that are fast to consume, small in size and soft in texture. We explore this in further detail in our buyer’s guide below.
The Best Puppy Treats for Training: Reviewed
This section of the article explores some excellent puppy treats intended for training purposes. With so many products available on the market, we have narrowed these down to the 5 most popular options.
To help you further, we have broken the products down into key features and points of interest. Below we have listed 5 of the best puppy training treats that you and your puppy will be sure to love.
1. Hill’s Ideal Balance Grain Free Dog Treats
Hill’s Ideal Balance is one of the leading manufacturers for creating tasty and nutritious foods for dogs. In fact, the company are so confident that buyers will love their product that they offer a 100% money-back guarantee.
These soft-baked natural dog treats are made in the USA, using raw ingredients from countries with reliable safety procedures. Countries include United States, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and many European countries.
- Weight: 8oz
- Age Range: Puppy – Senior
- Food Type: Soft & Dry
- Flavor: Beef & Sweet Potatoes (also comes in Chicken & Carrots or Duck & Pumpkin)
High-quality meat is always the number one ingredient. With a variety of flavors to choose from, your pup will always be interested in training. These nutritious treats are grain free made without corn, soy or wheat. The formula does not contain any artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. The soft treats are shaped like little bones, which can easily be torn into smaller portions for training.
The smell is enticing enough to lure your puppy in, while not too overwhelming for your nose. Adult and senior dogs also love these treats, so you can continue to buy these for the rest of your pup’s life.
2. Full Moon Organic Human Grade Training Treats
These organic dog treats are United Stated Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved, meaning that the product has met specific requirements and produced through approved methods. With this certification in place, buyers can feel confident to safely feed these to puppies.
- Weight: 6oz
- Age Range: Puppy – Senior
- Food Type: Soft & Dry
- Flavor: Chicken (also comes in Duck flavor)
Each treat contains less than 3 calories, so puppies can be rewarded for longer. In addition, these treats are soft so are well suited for senior dogs too.
All the ingredients are fit for human consumption, meaning that the treats are made to the same requirements for human edible food. The recipe includes all natural ingredients including real organic chicken. It is grain free with no corn, wheat or soy and contains no artificial flavors, preservatives or colors.
3. Pet Botanics Training Reward
These USA-made popular treats from Pet Botanics boast an impressive low 1.6 calorie per treat. Not only will these be kind to your dog’s waist, but perfect for repetitive training.
Owners can afford to supply more puppy treats without compromising their dog’s weight and health. Treats already come in the perfect size for training rewards and each bag contains approximately 200 treats.
- Weight: 4oz (also available in 4oz 2 pack, 10oz or 20oz)
- Age Range: Puppy – Senior
- Food Type: Soft & Moist
- Flavor: Chicken (also comes in Duck & Bacon, Salmon, Bacon and Beef flavors)
With so many flavors to choose from, your puppies will always be enticed to focus on training. Meat is always the first ingredient to contribute to a puppy’s protein intake. This is another grain free product, making it ideal for those that may suffer from allergies or grain sensitivities.
The healthy recipe contains a mix of super fruits, herbs and anti-oxidants including blueberries, cranberries and green tea. There are also added omegas to promote smooth skin and a healthy coat. The soft moist texture creates a delicious and meaty aroma, and will not crumble in your treat pouch or pocket. This product also comes in a reclosable zipper to keep treats fresh and ready for the next training session.
4. Blue Buffalo BLUE Bits Training Dog Treats
Blue Buffalo training dog treats are soft, moist, healthy and nutritious rewards. Each meaty piece is packed with a high-quality protein source (e.g. salmon) and omega-3 and 6 fatty acids to promote a healthy skin and coat, and support cognitive development in puppies.
There are no chicken or poultry by-product meals. Furthermore, this product is made in the USA with ingredients sourced in the USA.
- Weight: 4oz (also available in 9oz or 16oz)
- Age Range: Puppy – Senior
- Food Type: Soft & Moist
- Flavor: Salmon (also comes in Beef, Chicken and Turkey flavors)
Each training treat comes in a heart-shaped size that is easy to tear into smaller pieces. They are made from the finest natural ingredients and are free from corn, wheat and soy. These treats are great value for money for the amount you receive in a bag.
5. Wellness Crunchy Puppy Bites
Unlike the other products we have reviewed so far, these treats are specially formulated just for puppies under 1 year old. These sniffable rewards can motivate any pup into action. They are crunchy, perfectly sized and made with premium chicken.
- Weight: 6oz
- Age Range: Puppy
- Food Type: Crunchy (also available in Soft)
- Flavor: Chicken & Carrots
As well as for training purposes, these treats are great for everyday treating too. This is because they contain all natural premium ingredients with no corn, soy, artificial colors or flavors.
Treats are packed with all the nutrients necessary for a pup to grow up intelligent and strong such as protein, antioxidants, fruits and vegetables. These treats also contain a natural source of DHA, which helps to promote healthy brain development.
So Which Option Is Best? Our Winners
All 5 of the products we have extensively reviewed are brilliant examples of good puppy training treats. However, if you were to only invest in one of the treats listed, which one should you choose? Below, we explore our favorites.
Our Top Rated Puppy Training Treat: Hill’s Ideal Balance Grain Free Dog Treats
- Hill’s Ideal Balance is one of the leading and trusting manufacturers.
- Treats are made in the USA using ingredients sourced from countries with reliable safety procedures.
- Due to its soft-baked texture, it is great for dogs of all ages. This means that puppies can continue enjoying this food throughout their lifetime.
- Comes in a variety of healthy and nutritious flavors to keep your pup motivated in training.
- Has a tempting aroma but not enough to overwhelm your nose – a win-win situation for both you and your pup!
Although this product is our clear winner, it is important to note the qualities of some of the other puppy treats.
Training involves many repetitions, which generally means providing more rewards. This is ideal with Pet Botanics Training Reward due its impressive low calorie per treat. A single bag will also last a while since it contains 200 treats.
Treats that are specially formulated for puppies should also be considered, such as the Wellness Crunchy Puppy Bites. Specifically, they contain special ingredients to promote healthy brain development. This is important for puppies and is less likely to be found in products suitable for dogs of all ages.
Overall, all the products listed in this article were worth reviewing and are great treats for puppy training.
Buyer’s Guide: What Makes a Good Food Treat for Puppy Training?
When it comes to finding the best puppy treats for training, there are a number of features that you should keep in mind. Puppy treats should be created from high-quality ingredients, be fast to consume, small in size and have a soft texture. Some types of puppy training will also benefit from treats that are slow to consume.
The first thing to do when choosing a food treat is to review the ingredients list. Meat or fish should be the first ingredient, rather than a by-product or filler such as grain.
Small in Size
Small treats are important for swift and smooth training sessions. Pea-sized treats are plenty, even for larger breeds. Pieces can be even tinier for small dogs. Sometimes commercial treats can be excessively large. If this is the case, cut them into smaller pieces before the training session begins.
Smaller treats are quick to consume and less likely to cause obesity. When training is new or intensive, puppies are likely to be consuming handfuls of treats every day. This is not problematic if treats are small because fewer calories will be consumed. Moreover, pups will not be full and can continue training till the session is over.
Fast to Consume
An important part of teaching pups a new behavior is to keep them attentive and interested. An easy way to achieve this is by providing a high rate of reinforcement. In other words, this means how often rewards are given. For your dog to receive lots of treats in a short space of time, treats need to be ones that can be consumed quickly.
Dogs that can chew on a treat immediately will allow you to move onto the next repetition straightaway. Your dog will remain motivated while also receiving lots of practice. In comparison, a dog that spends many seconds eating each treat can lead to many undesirable consequences. You may end up having to wait longer between repetitions or gain fewer repetitions per training session. In addition, you may need to increase the length of the training session and even possibly lose your dog’s focus.
Treats with a soft texture are easier and faster for dogs to consume, especially compared to crunchy counterparts. Biscuits, for example, can be great for special rewards but time-consuming when teaching. Waiting for your dog to seek every piece that has crumbled to the floor is deducting time away from training.
Slow to Consume
In some cases, you want to look for a treat that will take a while to eat. Teaching dogs to love their crate or helping them to pass the time while you pop out the home are perfect scenarios that warrant a long-lasting treat. Look for chewy treats like dental sticks or a Kong, a toy that can be stuffed with tasty food like peanut butter. These are guaranteed to keep your dog occupied!
For the summer months, freeze the Kong with food as a treat for a hot day.
Tips to Follow When Rewarding With Treats
As well as knowing how to choose the perfect treat, there are also some other considerations to keep in mind. Here are some tips to remember when rewarding with treats.
Use a Mixture Of Both Low and High Value Treats
When it comes to choosing what types of treats, trainers should use a mixture of both low and high value treats:
- Low value treats for average responses (e.g. kibble)
- High value treats for when you need to increase the temptation. This could be high-stress situations, initial or intensive training sessions (e.g. a nutritious and delicious commercially made treat or a human food that dogs can eat, such as cheese)
By having a variety of treats, dogs will continue to be interested in their training. Change it up to a different reward of equal or greater value if you notice your dog’s enthusiasm starting to fade.
The More Treats, the Less Regular Food At Meal Times
Many people can forget that food treats are contributing to a dog’s daily calorie intake. Be cautious of how many food treats your dog is consuming, then adjust the amount of regular food accordingly. By doing so, you are compensating for the treats.
A dog’s health is important for living a healthy, long and fulfilling life. Therefore, an overweight pup would compromise this. Veterinarians recommend treats should never exceed 10 percent of a dog’s diet. To find out more, read this useful article from American Kennel Club.
If you are concerned about giving away too many treats, you can always try to use kibble as the primary training treat. Take a handful out your dog’s breakfast or dinner to use for training instead. As your dog learns to respond to both your verbal and non-verbal signals, you could also advance to training without food treats and focus on merely praise.
Consider Treat Bags or Pouches
Treat bags and pouches are vital for storing and easily accessing the treat of choice. Alternatively, treats can be kept in a plastic bag or in your pockets. However, if you do not fancy reeking of meat and having crumbs your clothing, then consider investing in a treat pouch.
Pouches are also useful for carrying around at all times for spur-of-the-moment training. For instance, reinforcing good behavior around the home. Having non-perishable goodies in your treat bag will allow you to deliver an immediate reward.
Try to look for a pouch that is small, has separate pockets and is machine washable. Separate pockets would be useful for transporting different types of treats, such as low and high value treats. A pouch that is machine washable is handy for keeping clean too – ready to use for the next training session.
Homemade vs. Commercial Treats
Some people may prefer to choose homemade treats, but treats designed specifically for puppies are recommended.
Not only will commercial products save you time and effort, but it will also be almost guaranteed to work well as a training tool. These can be nutritious and incorporated as part of a healthy diet plan. Plus, they can really excite your pup’s taste buds.
Final Thoughts On How to Choose the Best Puppy Training Treats
Picking the right treat for your puppy is the key to successful training. Not all puppies will respond to the same treats in the same way but with a little experimentation, patience and bundles of love, you will find the ones that your pup will work hard to receive.
The best puppy treats that we have reviewed in this article tend to work with all dogs driven by food (which is the majority of the puppy population!). Have you found treats helpful during your training sessions? Which treat was your puppy’s favorite? We would love to hear from you. Paw us a comment down below!