Published Jun 15, 2022 1:00 PM
The pet store can overwhelm well-intentioned dog owners as they peruse the packed aisles searching for the best dog training treats. You may find yourself standing in an aisle wondering if you should stick with the traditional peanut butter flavor or something more exotic like duck or salmon.
Treats play a pivotal role in developing an effective line of communication with your four-legged friend. Training is one of the most important steps in bringing home a new puppy or teaching your beloved dog a new trick.
With solid leadership and training, you can communicate effectively with your pup, which will make life easier and happier for both of you. The best dog training treats provide a delicious reward that will reinforce good behavior while providing solid nutrition that won’t turn your pooch into a couch potato.
How we chose the best dog training treats
We wish we could say that we sampled them all for the benefit of the dogs. However, we left it to the dogs themselves to choose their favorites. After decades of personal experience with dogs, talking with dog trainers, and combing through dog owner reviews, Zuke’s Mini Naturals stood out among the competition as the best overall dog training treat among our sample group. Not only is Zuke’s based in the U.S., but the company originated from a dog owner wanting to provide his best friend with the very best product. However, dogs may have individual preferences and your vet may provide some very valuable insight about what to use, so definitely consult a professional with any questions and explore various categories and products till you find the one that matches your pet.
Things to consider before buying the best dog training treats
Before stocking up on multiple training treats for your new puppy or dog, you’ll want to test out a few flavors and textures beforehand. Some dogs may have taste preferences, sensitive stomachs, or simply are not food-driven. Start by finding a similar flavor to their everyday kibble and expand and build taste profiles. From there, keep in mind the following things:
Size & texture
When it comes to training treats, size matters. It is not only more convenient to have multiple small treats in your hand, but it leads to better overall timing and consistency when training. In addition, if you’re training for an extended period, those treat calories add up. So tiny, bite-sized treats are more effective at reinforcing positive behavior than stumbling to find a sizeable bone-shaped treat in your pocket.
Fortunately, with the growing popularity of healthy savory treats, you don’t have to settle for traditional peanut butter or bacon flavors anymore. Instead, add a little variety to your dog’s diet and introduce duck, chicken, salmon, or rabbit flavors into their lives. In addition, there are organic or all-natural ingredient options to choose from, so you can give your dog the very best. And just because you have a bigger dog doesn’t necessarily mean you need larger treats.
Training a new puppy can take anywhere from 6 to 12 months. If you are training regularly, it can become quite costly. While ensuring you pick healthy treats, you should also know the overall cost. During initial training steps, try to find treat bags with a large quantity per bag. Average prices for dog treats range from $5 to $15, depending on the quality and ingredients. Finding the best dog delivery service may be handy as you research costs and treat varieties. Having a regular supply of dog food and treats at your fingertips will come in handy.
The best dog training treats: Reviews & Recommendations
As you look through our picks for the best dog training treats, remember that every dog will be different, so adjust and modify your dog’s treats as you learn more about what they like. If your dog ends up hating the treats you bought, you may be able to give them away on a local marketplace site. Or, if they’re unopened, animal shelters will often take them. Don’t let them go to waste!
Best overall: Zuke’s Mini Naturals
Why it made the cut: Delicious, soft, and small, making it ideal for teaching basic commands or more challenging tasks.
- Less than three calories per treat
- Made in the USA
- Great for all breeds and life stages
- Behavior training
- Six flavors to choose from
- Not recommended for humans
With all-natural ingredients and flavors such as salmon, duck, rabbit, and peanut butter, you’ll likely find something your dog likes, even if they’re particularly picky. Zuke’s Mini Naturals’ best feature is built right into the product’s name. The small size allows you to train with your puppy or dog without worrying about overfeeding.
Try cutting them in half if you are training a tiny puppy and want to conserve your training treat supply. While the treats may have a robust, savory smell that may be off-putting to owners, your dog will enthusiastically love the tasty treats. In addition, the mini treats are the ideal size to put in your jacket pocket or training pouch while you head outdoors for continued training.
Best organic: Full Moon Organic Training Treats
Why it made the cut: Quality, all-natural ingredients with 100% human-grade chicken and duck flavors.
- Less than three calories each
- 175 treats per bag
- Made in the U.S.
- Suitable for all breed sizes
- 100% human-grade
- Additional organic jerky treat options
- 5-ounce bag
- Minimal flavor options
Full Moon is proud to offer soft and organic dog treats. In addition, the treats are 100% human-grade. So while you can chow down on a snack with your pup, you probably won’t want to.
Full Moon dog treats are excellent for any breed or size. Despite the 5-ounce bag size, the treats are savory, soft, and delicious. They eschew glycerin, grains, corn, wheat, and soy, the organic training treats are great for supplemental treats throughout the day.
A single 6-ounce bag contains about 175 treats. Some sites offer them on a subscription basis, which helps bring the price down.
Best for puppies: Pet Botanics Training Reward
Why it made the cut: High quantity of treats per bag is the best value for the initial stages of puppy training.
- Three calories per treat
- Approximately 500 treats per bag
- Three options: Mini, Regular, Grain-Free
- Suitable for all breed sizes
- Easy to carry in your pocket
- Small convenient size can lead to overfeeding
With over 500 treats per bag, you won’t have to keep resupplying your dog treat stash. The Pet Botanics Training Reward treats are great for all breeds and sizes. The small round shape allows you to have complete control of the treat while waiting for your boisterous pup to perform the requested task. In addition, the soft texture is ideal for young and developing puppy mouths. With multiple delicious flavors to offer your puppy, your dog will stay engaged longer and learn new tricks in no time.
The benefit of Pet Botanics is that you can choose between mini or regular-sized treats. So whether you have a small Bichon or a large Bernese Mountain Dog, you can find the best size for you and your pup.
Best protein: Red Barn Protein Puffs
Why it made the cut: These tiny cubes of beef have the shortest possible ingredient list and that’s a good thing when it comes to dog treats.
- 0.5 calories per treat
- 75 percent protein
- High protein content
- Less than one calorie per treat
- Subscription available
Typical reward treats check in at around three calories per treat. These savory puffs come in under one calorie, which makes them a great option for high-volume training or for use with dogs that are overweight.
Each puff contains roughly 75-percent protein, which comes from an ingredient called caseinate common in supplements and food products intended for human consumption. Despite their relatively low-calorie count, the puffed treats provide a solid crunch that will appeal to dogs of all sizes. They’re only available in cheese and peanut butter flavor, but Red Barn also sells a version intended for cats if you have a variety of pets in your house.
Once you’re done training, the puffs can also act as a food topper for adding extra protein to a dog’s diet.
Best for large dogs: Old Mother Hubbard Dog Treats
Why it made the cut: Various-sized appetizing oven-baked dog treats perfect for larger breeds.
- Flavorful oven-baked dog treats
- Established home-style recipes since 1926
- Multiple bone-shaped treat options
- All-natural ingredients
- Suitable for all breed sizes and life stages
- A healthy supplemental snack for diet
- Intended for intermittent training
With nearly 100 years of experience, Old Mother Hubbard is a staple in the dog treat world. All dogs have different flavor or texture preferences and for those larger dogs that love a crunchy, oven-baked treat, this is a clear choice. The variety of all-natural ingredients and flavors—such as p-nuttier, savory mix, or bac’n’cheez—will leave your dog wanting more.
While Old Mother Hubbard treats may not be ideal for extended or repetitive training due to their caloric content, they are perfect for reinforcing positive behavior and overall basic commands. For example, keep a bag by the door to greet strangers or reward basic commands such as shaking, sitting, down, or staying.
Best budget: Buddy Biscuits Training Bites
Why it made the cut: Compact, low-calorie treats that include 500 treats per bag, so dog training doesn’t cost a fortune.
- Soft texture for all breed sizes
- 500 treats per bag
- 7-ounce or 10-ounce option
- Great for repetitive training or dog puzzles
- Suitable for positive reinforcement training
- Only 1.5 calories per treats
- Only two flavors to choose from
While Buddy Biscuits are limited to either chicken or bacon flavors, they offer 500 small treats per bag. That makes them economical in both a budgetary and calorie sense. Buddy Biscuits Training Bites are great for positive reinforcement and obedience training if you have a brand new puppy and are in the thick of training. With small bite-sized chewy pieces that resemble the size of a pencil eraser, you can reward your dog with proper timing and consistency.
Even though they’re small, big dogs may still react positively to the small treats, which is good if you have a dog that’s on the hefty side, which can be the case with rescues or other adopted pooches.
Q: Do you need treats to train a dog?
When it comes to training a dog, treats are one of the most effective ways to retain attention and reinforce positive behavior. Delicious treats combined with an upbeat demeanor or attitude from the trainer is one of the best ways to see quick results while training.
Training is all about consistency and communication. By using high-value treats, you can communicate with your dog to let them know what you desire. Training should be fun for both you and your dog, and the best way to do that is by using delicious treats that will sustain their attention and keep them entertained and happy.
Q: How many training treats can a dog have?
The number of treats will depend on your dog’s age, size, and weight. Overfeeding can lead to a dog becoming obese and, as a result, more susceptible to health issues. While training typically requires a lot of treats, it’s essential to regulate your dog’s overall food intake each day. Fortunately, you can easily monitor your dog’s diet and adjust as needed with the small training treat sizes. During the training process, additional exercise can be beneficial to retain attention and burn off those calories.
If you’re worried about your dog being overfed, a helpful solution is to try cutting the training treats in half. This will help your dog’s daily food intake, but it will make your treats last longer. If you’re ever unsure, the best bet is to ask your vet.
Q: How do I choose dog treats?
Start by purchasing a few different flavors and textures for your dog. You first need to find out what they love the most. For example, once you know they prefer duck over salmon, you can find differently shaped or textured treats with their favorite flavor. Most importantly, you want to match the value of the treat with the value of the command or task you are asking them to perform. Then, during training, make sure not to skimp on the rewards. Or you just might find your dog skimping on conducting a trick or task.
Q: What is the difference between training treats and regular treats?
Training treats typically are low-calorie, with a convenient small size that encourages the behavior or command you desire. Training treats are intended to be used repetitively and enjoyed multiple times in large quantities during the day.
In comparison, regular treats are used for intermittent training and reinforce positive behavior. In addition, regular treats can be used periodically throughout the day to supplement your dog’s diet.
Q: What do professional dog trainers use for treats?
Most professional dog trainers prefer to use small soft circular training treats. Dog trainers stress that convenience is key. In the initial stages of training, the dog needs to build context for what the trainer or owner is asking. By having small bite-sized treats, a trainer can progress through training faster and help the dog develop the context quickly.
The benefit to using soft training treats is the ability to cut them in half by simply using your fingernail. This allows professional dog trainers to modify the size of the treat while monitoring behavior instantaneously. Training is a marathon. Experienced trainers know to use convenient, high-quality treats over long periods to reinforce behavior and ultimately see positive results with this commitment in mind.
Q: What are the best dog training treats?
The best dog training treats are of high value to your dog that will grab their attention and keep them coming back for more. Typically, the best treats to do just this are flavor-packed savory soft chewable treats. Dog owners want to confidently know that they provide the best dog products for their furry loved ones. With our helpful list of the best dog training treats, you can find the brand and style that suits you and your training process.
Final thoughts on the best dog training treats
Training takes time and a whole lot of patience. Some dogs will catch on right away, while others might need a little bit more support. Regardless of your dog’s age or size, training is a great way to build a relationship with your dog and reinforce positive behavior. Our best overall pick to start building trust and a relationship with your dog is by using Zuke’s Mini Naturals treats.