Successful Dog Treats for Training:
Get Their Attention and Help Them Learn

By: Sarah Gardner

Finding the perfect dog treats for training has always been something that I find challenging, especially since I've started Nose Work training with my dog Lady.  I prefer soft treats for training sessions so that she can digest them quickly and move on.  However, if it's too soft it'll crumble and drop onto the floor - not only is that messy, but I'll get a 'fault' if that happens at a Nose Work trial.  

On the other hand, if the treat is too hard, it'll take her too long to chew. This can take up my search time, and we only get 1-3 minutes to search the area!  Even if I do get the consistency right, if the treat is too bland she won't put that much effort into searching for the odor to get the reward at all. So you see my dilemma?

Nose Work Trial Search"Me and Lady at a Nose Work trial"

For me, the perfect dog treats for training need to be medium consistency (not too soft and not too hard) and be extremely tasty!  Luckily, I have found some awesome treats that meet that criteria below, but before I share that with you, let me explain why it is always best to use treats for training a puppy or an adult dog.

Why We Use Dog Treats For Training

Giving your dog treats while training him is a method known as positive reinforcement. It is the most useful technique to let your dog know which behaviors you approve of and which you do not. I find rewarding your dog this way enables you to establish more clear communication with him, it strengthens your bond, and it allows all of your family members to be a part of the training process.  A win-win!

While everyone is aware of how essential dog treats are, we still don’t always know enough about them. Because of this, I want to provide you with more insight into them, focus on their benefits, what kind of treats to use and which problems you may occur along the way.

Dog learning to do a 'high five' trick...

The Advantages of Using Dog Treats For Training

Dogs resemble little kids in many ways – they need something to be focused on and something to keep them busy. Dog treats are primarily used to grab your dog’s attention quickly and keep him focused.  Before we get into the best dog treats for training, let’s concentrate on some more benefits that such treats offer.

Although cute and cuddly, dogs are predators by nature and that is why food serves as a great motivation for them. Many people still think that different forms of punishment are an excellent way to train a dog, but these methods have proven to be quite inefficient and can make problems even worse, especially when it comes to aggressive or fearful dogs.

That is why you should most certainly refrain from punishment and turn to rewards. Even if your dog is not aggressive or fearful, they can still have some behavior problems such as boredom or excessive energy. Providing them with treats will make them focused during training, and will thus burn off significant amounts of energy. 

A owner teaching her dog the'watch' command. While the dog has a bone on his nose.

How Dog Treats Solve Common Training Issues


Dog Treats For Training

When a dog figures out that training leads to some form of a reward, they start seeing this process as playtime, which makes it more fun and easier for both the dog and their owner. It will help to increase their eagerness to behave and learn new things significantly. 

Moreover, not only will you succeed in making your dog more obedient and teach him some useful tricks, but it will also help you create a stronger relationship with him. Giving your dog treats will make him establish and maintain his trust in you. Much like people, dogs will be willing to work more eagerly if they are praised and rewarded. 

When thinking about what kind of treats to choose, you should always opt for soft dog treats that are tasty and easily digestible since, like their fellow humans, they can start feeling sleepy when they are full. 

Potential Problems

Furthermore, some dog treats aren’t practical for training a puppy, as they take too long to eat, are not tasty or exciting enough, or are just too difficult to handle. That is why you should always take time to discover what suits your dog’s preferences and their body best, and be sure to read the labels, since some treats may contain harmful ingredients. You can find more information on dangerous dog treats here.

In conclusion, training should be equally educational and fun, and dog treats are the best way to achieve that. Let your puppy know when he is a good boy, and it will pay off in the long run! 


Homemade Dog Treats For Training

What makes a specific dog treat perfect for training? They need to smell good and taste extra yummy, so your dog will be dedicated while your training him. It is always better to have small sized treats so that you can get them out quickly and easily. 

Also, soft training treats are great as it won't take your dog long to eat them, whereas it will take your dog longer to eat a hard treat - saying that they need to be sturdy, so they don't fall apart in your treat pouch. These homemade dog treats for training recipes will entice your dogs to go the extra mile for a taste.


Liver Sponge Cake

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup spelt flour (or all purpose flour)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 pounds of lamb, beef or chicken liver

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Line a square silicone tin with a spray of olive oil (or parchment paper if your using a baking tin) 
  3. Place the liver in a food processor, until it is finely chopped.
  4. Transfer the liver into a mixing bowl, and stir in the flour and eggs using a wooden spoon. 
  5. Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared pan.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until the center is firm. 
  7. Let the sponge cake to cool down. Once cool, remove it from the pan and cut into squares.

Lickable Leftover Jerky Treats

Directions: 

This recipe is a quick and simple homemade recipe, and it doesn't cost you a thing as it is all made from dinner leftovers! In a blender or a food processor, make a paste of tasty ingredients that you know your dog likes. Then put the mixture into a jerky gun and place in a dehydrator for 4-5 hours or until your desired texture.

I would recommend taking the jerky out of the dehydrator, while it is still soft. It will allow you to break the jerky into pieces and use it as dog treats for training. If you let it dehydrate until it becomes hard, it will take your dog longer to eat and won't be as flexible to break.


Blueberry and Apple Dehydrated Jerky

This easy recipe contains limited ingredients. You can customize this recipe to your dog's taste. What meat you choose, how you slice your meat, and the ratios of your marinade is totally up to you. Once they're dehydrated, you can snap them into bite-sized pieces, which make them perfect tasty, healthy training treats.

Ingredients:

  • Your choice of meat (chicken, beef, turkey or liver)
  • Pureed blueberries 
  • Apple sauce, unsweetened 
  • Water

Directions:

  1. Mix the apple sauce, blueberry puree and water in a mixing bowl.
  2. Slice your choice of meat into thin strips and then place in mixing bowl with marinade. 
  3. Place in the refrigerator overnight, to marinade. 
  4. The next morning, place the meat strips onto a dehydrator tray and dehydrate for 6-8 hours.

Store-bought Dog Treats For Training

I have selected my three favorite freeze-dried dog treats for training, that are available on Amazon. I have found these to be the ultimate jackpot training and traveling freeze dried treats. Freeze dried raw meat means the treat will motivate your furry friend, making it much easier to train and even travel with your best friend. These treat also have a bonus of providing your dog healthier teeth and gums, healthier skin and coat, boosted the immune system and increased energy.

PureBites - Beef Liver


PureBites are made with only one ingredient; 100% pure USA sourced and made beef liver and only five calories per treat. These treats are ideal for dogs with health issues, weight issues, diabetic, have allergies, gastrointestinal disorders or are on a restricted diet.

These treats have a little more crunch and are slightly larger than the other two that I have recommended on this page. 

Wellness CORE


Wellness CORE freeze-dried treats are made in the U.S.A from 100% real meat. Reward your dog with these grain-free, protein-packed, freeze dried raw treats! They contain no wheat, corn, soy, artificial flavors or preservatives and can be purchased in a three bag variety or single bags. These treats are low cost and come in four flavors - boar, beef, salmon and turkey. 

I have found that these treats would be suitable for all dogs. There are already cut into small sized cubes, making them great for training. The great thing is they are cost-effective, and you can buy three bag variety.

Freshpet Dog Joy Treats

Freshpet Dog Joys - Dog Treats. Chicken and Turkey Bacon Flavor.

These treats can be found in your local supermarket fridge, in the pet food and treat aisle of the store. Ava, my aunt's dog, and my dog love these treats. They are packed with vitamins and proteins and contain high-quality meats, poultry, and vegetables farmed in the United States. Freshpet makes their treats and food from real all natural ingredients and do not contain any preservatives.

They come in chicken, turkey bacon and beef flavor. The turkey bacon looks like a strip of bacon, whereas the chicken and beef come in the form of a small-sized sausage. Which makes them great dog treats for training. 


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