Dog Treats

Best Dog Training Treats for Positive Reinforcement: Buyer’s Guide for 2020 and Product Recommendations

dog with a reward

Whether you need to retrain an older dog or you need to train a puppy, using positive reinforcement is crucial. All dogs love treats, which is why they’re commonly used to reward good behavior or if a dog performs a command correctly. Dog training treats can make the whole training process so much easier while helping to build your dog’s confidence. The right treat can make your dog eager to please you and will have them even looking forward to their next training session.

I’ve created this buyer’s guide and included product reviews in order to help you find tasty treats that your pup will love, that are healthy for them, nutrient-dense, and designed to encourage positive behaviors in the future. Below, you’ll find a comparison chart that lists each of the treats that have made it onto my list. This will help you choose the best product for your dog, based on their age, food preferences, and overall quality.

Dog Training Treats Comparison Chart

Product Flavor Calories Nutritional InfoRating
Zuke's Dog Treats


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Salmon 3Vitamins and Minerals
Buckley Trainers Dog Treats


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Peanut Butter 4Grain and Gluten-Free
Blue Buffalo Treats


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Chicken 4.5Omega 3&6 Fatty Acids
Chulu Natural Dog Treats


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Beef4Corn, Wheat,
and Soy-Free
Crazy Dog Train-Me! Dog Treats


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Bacon 4Vitamins and Minerals

Zuke’s Natural Treats for Dogs


Our Rating: (5/5)

These training treats contain just three calories each and contain wholefood berries, salmon, and herbs. The formula is free of soy, wheat, and corn. The treats themselves are soft and chewy, so they’re perfect for dogs with dental issues, small breeds, and puppies. The addition of turmeric and cherries add important vitamins and minerals, and antioxidants that your dog needs in order to thrive.

Pros

  • Salmon flavored
  • All-natural recipe
  • Includes vitamins and minerals
  • Low price

Cons

  • Very strong fish scent

Conclusion

These treats are low in calories, so they’re a great choice if you’re looking for a healthier option and one that also comes loaded with important vitamins and minerals. These salmon flavored treats are loaded with flavor and sure to entice even the pickiest dog.

Buckley Trainers All Natural Grain


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

These grain-free and gluten-free dog treats only contain four calories each and feature the type of all-natural formula that most dog owners are looking for. Grain is commonly found in dog food and treats and it’s used as a filler. Unfortunately, many dogs are allergic to grain, which can cause GI upset, rashes, and more. These dog treats are perfect for pets with a grain allergy, sensitive stomach, dogs dealing with weight issues, and puppies and adults. The soft, chewy texture allows your pet to consume the treat quickly, and easily, so they’re a great treat to use for training purposes.

Pros

  • All-natural
  • Gluten and grain-free
  • Perfect for dogs of all ages
  • Soft chewy texture

Cons

  • Crumble very easily

Conclusion

These low-calorie treats are a great buy, whether you’re looking for treats for a puppy or older dog. The rich, protein-packed formula is sure to please any dog, while the reasonable price will be a huge plus for pet owners.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Trail Treats


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

These chicken flavored treats contain Omega three and six fatty acids, which are designed to boost coat and skin health. These are grain-free, high protein, soft dog training treats that are perfect for breeds of all ages and sizes. These treats are moist, soft, and contain four and a half calories each.

Pros

  • Perfect for all breeds and ages
  • Grain-free
  • Contains omega three and six fatty acids
  • High protein

Cons

  • Can cause gas

Conclusion

These high protein chicken treats will give your dog the incentive they need to please their owner, contain ingredients designed to boost coat and skin health, and feature a grain-free formula, which makes them perfect for dogs with food allergies.

Chulu Real Beef Soft Chews


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

These soft, moist bites are made with one hundred percent real beef and are perfect for breeds of all ages and sizes. The formula is wheat, corn, and soy-free, high in protein, and low in fat. These treats can be used for training or as a way to hide medication. The jerky flavor and rich beef aroma will definitely encourage your dog to sit down and pay attention to your every word. These bites are offered at a low price and are a good choice for dogs with sensitive stomachs and skin allergies.

Pros

  • Made with real beef
  • Low in fat
  • High in protein
  • Soy, corn, and wheat-free

Cons

  • Treats may be too small for larger breeds

Conclusion

These tiny treats are moist, easy to chew, and loaded with flavor. Despite the soft texture, they won’t crumble in your pocket and come with a resealable pouch, so you can take them with you, wherever you and your pup go.

Crazy Dog Train-Me!


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

Low in calories and made from all-natural ingredients, these treats are a perfect training tool for dogs of all sizes and ages. Beef is the number one ingredient, so these treats are high in protein, but low in fat. The bites also include added vitamins, so they’re a great option for pet owners who are looking for a healthy treat alternative that can help to supplement their pet’s diet with essential vitamins and minerals.

Pros

  • Added vitamins and minerals
  • High in protein
  • Low in fat
  • All-natural formula

Cons

  • May cause constipation

Conclusion

These treats contain eighteen percent protein, added vitamins, and come in a resealable package. The soft and moist texture is perfect for puppies and older dogs, while the bacon flavor basically makes these treats irresistible to any dog. They’re a great buy for training purposes, can be used to hide medication, and feature a low caloric content that makes them suitable for dogs who are overweight.

Dog Training Treats Buyer’s Guide

Training a dog can be time-consuming and very challenging. Treats are used to help a dog owner during this difficult time. There are a number of treats to choose from, but if you’re looking for treats that are healthy and won’t cause weight gain and a product that you know your dog will love, then there are some factors to consider before you buy. Not all treats are created equal, so you’ll need to do a little research in order to find a product that your pet will love.

Benefits of Dog Training Treat

feeding happy dog

Every dog loves treats, but not all treats that you come across are going to be healthy for your pet. Some contain additives, fillers, and dyes. Others may contain grain, which can be a problem for dogs with sensitive skin or GI problems.

  • The right treats will be soft, tasty, and nutrient-dense. In order to avoid weight gain, treats should not make up more than ten percent of your dog’s diet. If you give your dog too many treats it can lead to obesity. The treats should also only be given as a reward when your dog has carried out a command successfully, otherwise, the treats will lose their effectiveness, especially if your dog knows they’ll end up getting a treat for doing nothing.
  • Giving your pet a treat for listening to a command will give you results faster. Many trainers recommend using treats as a form of positive reinforcement during training since this will not only encourage your dog to behave properly, but it also works to build their confidence and can even have them looking forward to more training in the future.
  • If your purchase treats that are loaded with vitamins, and other important nutrients, then you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you’re actually adding another healthy food source to their diet.
  • Using treats will make training your dog a cinch. You’ll notice a difference in your dog’s willingness to listen to commands, their behavior, and their eagerness to please.
  • Treats are more healthy for your pet than table scraps, and less likely to cause weight gain if given in moderation.

Other Features to Look for

Sure, the treats you give your pet should taste good, but there are also other important things to look for, such as treats that are soft, easy to eat, and nutrient-dense. Adding treats to your pet’s diet can be a very positive thing in terms of encouraging obedient behavior and adding important nutrients to their diet, such as vitamins and healthy fat sources and lean proteins.

Easy to Eat

The treats should have a soft texture, especially if you’re dealing with puppies, who are prone to gobbling their food down. You want to avoid treats that a dog can choke on if eaten too quickly. The soft texture is perfect for puppy teeth and the teeth of older dogs who may have trouble eating food with a harder texture.

Size

Choose treats that are small, since this means they’ll have fewer calories, and will also be easier to eat. Since the treats are smaller, and less calorie dense, you can give them more during a training session, without worrying about negatively impacting their appetite or causing weight gain. If you’re giving treats for smaller breeds, then a small size will also be important since these dogs can easily choke on treats that are meant for larger breeds.

Strong Odor

You want to use treats that your dog finds irresistible. Not all dogs prefer the same type of treats, but you’ll have a better chance of your dog gobbling up a treat if it has a stinky odor. In most cases, stronger smelling treats will be a big success for all your dogs in the home.

Variety

As I mentioned, not all dogs will prefer the same treats. Like humans, dogs do have a food preference. So, if you have more than one pet in the home that you’re training, make sure you keep a few options on hand. If you only have one dog in the home, it’s still a good idea to keep more than one treat option available, since dogs can get tired of a certain treat. This can cause the treat to lose its effectiveness during training. Purchase a few different types and switch them up daily, if possible.

Types of Dog Training Treats

jack russel

Is your dog overweight? Do they have dry skin or bad teeth? There are many different types of treats to choose from. Like people food, you’ll find that there’s dog junk food and healthy options available. If your dog has dry skin or sheds excessively, then look for treats that contain healthy fats, which can do wonders for their coat health. If they have bad teeth, find treats that can help to remove plaque from the surface of their teeth. If they’re overweight, then look for treats that are labeled as weight management. If you don’t feel that your dog follows the healthiest diet, you can also purchase treats that contain vitamins and minerals that are crucial for a healthy thriving pet. Of course, these treats should also be given in moderation. Make sure you read the product’s daily dosage instructions in order to avoid giving your pet too many.

What Else You Should Know About Dog Treats

Most dogs and puppies love getting a treat, but when you use treats specifically for training purposes, you’ll want to use a different type of treat than what you’d give them just for being a good boy. Bulky treats such as pig ears or dog biscuits are not ideal for training. This is because they will take too long to eat them, they can cause weight gain, and they can be pricey. As I mentioned earlier, the size of the treat really matters here. One tiny treat at a time will allow you to give them more during a training session. Make sure the type of treat you give your pet is pea-sized.

It’s also important that you give your pet treats that are high in protein, especially if they’re very active.

How many treats you give your dog during training or throughout the day, will also be important. While there’s no specific number that you should give, most vets agree that treats should not make up more than ten percent of your dog’s daily caloric intake.

Price

You may find it hard to believe, but there are high-priced gourmet treats on the market. If you’re on a tight budget, buying more expensive treats can be a struggle, but if you opt for the low-priced treats, you’re essentially feeding your dog junk food, which can quickly cause weight gain, digestive upset, diarrhea, or gas. Higher priced treats are often low in unhealthy fats, contain important nutrients, and actually taste better than the fake bacon or meat-flavored products that you’ll commonly find at your local pet store. So, if you’re looking for treats that will really help you make some serious progress when it comes to training your dog, be prepared to pay more. In the end, it’s definitely worth it.

Why Are Dog Training Treats a Great Incentive for Training?

siberian husky

By now, you know that treats are used as an incentive for your pet to carry out a command or avoid unwanted behaviors. This type of pet food can be a great way to get your dog to do pretty much anything and it will have a more positive impact than scolding your pet.

Treats are given as a way to teach your dog how to recognize that they’ve done something right. If you give your dog a command such as sit and they do so successfully, they should be given a treat. That’s not to say that you have to reward them every time they follow a command. Over time, you can slowly wean your pet off the treats as they become familiar with what’s expected of them.

Most pet owners are concerned that if they use treats for training purposes, then their pet will only perform for treats. However, you don’t have to keep a pocket full of treats for the rest of your pet’s life. Once your pet has learned a new command successfully, begin the treat phasing out process. Instead of giving them one every time they follow a command, begin giving them one every other time, and gradually decrease how often they get one. Once you get the hang of how to use treats, you’ll find that training your dog is fun and rewarding for both of you. Essentially, the treats you choose for your pup should not add too many calories to their daily diet, should be nutrient-dense, and should be affordable, allowing you to reorder new treats often and keep a variety of flavors on hand in order to tempt even the pickiest dogs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use Dog Food as Treats?

Yes and no. This will all depend on how much your pet loves their regular food. Some dogs are very picky and won’t follow a command during training unless they receive an extra special treat, something they don’t get very often. If you want to use dog food as a training treat, then I recommend using a different brand than what they normally get. You may still not have any luck, so if you want a guaranteed way to get your dog to go by the rules and listen up when you give a command, then I recommend purchasing training specific treats.

Are There Any Healthy Dog Treats?

Yes. As I mentioned earlier, there are many healthy treat options available that are loaded with important nutrients that can have a positive impact on your dog’s skin, coat, and oral health, without causing weight gain or GI upset. If your dog is currently overweight and gaining more weight is a concern, make sure you purchase treats that are specifically designed for overweight pets.

Is it Cheaper to Make Your Own Dog Treats?

No. You’ll have to purchase all fresh ingredients, follow a recipe that contains healthy nutrients, purchase supplements, and ensure that the treats don’t quickly spoil. Basically, it will take a lot of time and money. If you want to ensure you’re giving your pet a healthy treat for a price that’s affordable, then purchase a product from a reputable manufacturer.

Final Thoughts

Buying dog training treats can help you make some serious progress with your older dog or puppy. Training using treats involves a training technique called positive reinforcement. This type of training has been proven more effective than any other method and it can have a big impact on your pup and their progress, whether it’s a dog that’s more obedient or one that’s just generally happier and eager to please. The treats that I’ve included in my guide will help you to teach your dog simple and complex commands, can help to improve their mood, and are loaded with important nutrients that are vital to your pet’s health. The products included here and my buyer’s guide is designed to set you on the right path to training success in just a matter of days.

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