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Best Dog Training Treats

Dog training treats are great tools for helping to teach your dog various behaviors and skills. They not only serve as a great way to provide positive reinforcement, they also help to motivate your canine and capture his attention.

But some dog training treats are better than others, and you’ll want to select the best possible treats to enjoy the best possible results. You’ll also want to be sure that the treats you provide are healthy and safe for your dog, and that they won’t lead to health problems.

Below, we’ll discuss these issues and more, as we tried to provide some guidance for selecting the best available dog training treats.

The Importance of Training Your Dog  

Although it is sometimes challenging, basic obedience training is something that every owner must provide to their dog. You needn’t train your pet to jump through hoops or perform circus-like tricks if you don’t want to, but all dogs should be trained to sit, lay and walk in the heel position, among other things.

Obedient dogs tend to enjoy more frequent trips to the park and are usually given the chance to accompany their owners on adventures (which may be nothing more than a trip to the pet store) more often than their poorly trained counterparts are. Obedient dogs are also easier to take to the vet or groomer than those who behave like hooligans are.

But training your dog is not only important to ensure your dog behaves well in public or when greeting visitors in the home, it is also important from a safety perspective. You may, for example, be faced with a broken-leash scenario, in which case your dog’s obedience training may mean the difference between life and death.

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Training Big Breeds 

While training is important for all dogs, it is particularly important for big breeds. Not only are big dogs more difficult to control, they are also capable of injuring people or other dogs more easily than small dogs are. And big dogs needn’t be angry or aggressive to do so – simple rambunctiousness can lead to toppled toddlers and trodden upon terriers.

Because large dogs can be much more difficult to train than small dogs, it is absolutely critical that you begin training sessions early. Many people make the mistake of waiting until their dog is several months old to begin a training regimen, but you can start teaching your puppy simple commands at only 7 or 8 weeks of age.

Things to Look for When Buying Dog Training Treats

It is important to note that there are several different types of treats and each is intended for a different purpose.

Most treats fall into three different categories:  

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    ​Those primarily intended as a tasty snack
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    Those which are designed to give your dog something to chew
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    Those which are specifically designed to be used for training

Because they are used for different purposes than the other types of treats, dog training treats must satisfy a few key criteria, which are not necessary for other types. Some of the things you’ll want to seek in dog training treats include:

They Should Be Relatively Small

Small is a relative term, but training treats should usually be on the small side, relative to treats given for chewing purposes or other reasons. This is because you’ll need to give your dog a lot of treats during the course of the training session, but you don’t want to stuff your dog in the process. Accordingly, bite-sized treats are the preferred option.

Additionally, you’ll want your dog to be able to consume the treats quickly so that you can keep up a brisk pace while training. You don’t want to be waiting for your dog to chew and swallow – you want your dog to chomp down a few times and swallow easily.

They Must Be Very Palatable

Dogs tend to find most treats tasty, but when you are trying to conduct training sessions, and you intend to use treats for motivation and reinforcement purposes, you want your dog to love the treats you select.

It can be difficult to determine the relative palatability of a treat before you give it to your dog, so it is often wise to try out several different options and review the experiences of other owners before making your choice.

They Must Be Easy to Store, Transport and Handle

You’ll need to handle and carry dog training treats when working with your dog, so it is always preferable to select treats that keep well at room temperature and do not cause your hands to become messy.

Use care to avoid treats that may become deformed in hot weather or those that are coated in sticky or slimy substances – even if your dog finds them delicious. Similarly, it is important to avoid using potentially dangerous (if delicious) items, such as pieces of raw meat. Doing so may cause you and your dog to fall ill.

They Must Be Made with Healthy Ingredients

Training treats must be made from dog-appropriate ingredients, and they should satisfy most of the same criteria that you consider when picking a dog food.

For example, you’ll want to select treats that are not made with artificial additives, they should only contain properly identified meat meals and meat byproducts and they should be made in the United States, Canada, Western Europe, New Zealand or Australia, where food strict safety rules and practices are enforced.

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The Five Best Dog Training Treats

There may be a lot of different dog training treats on the market, but some of them are far better than others for your dog. Start your search for the perfect dog training treats by considering the five products listed below.

1. Crazy Dog Train-Me! Training Reward

Crazy Dog Train-Me! Training Rewards are delicious dog training treats, which come in two different sizes and four tasty flavors. Made with real meat and manufactured in the USA, these treats have all the characteristics you could want in a dog training treat.  

Price: $$$$

Features:

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    ​Real meat is the first listed ingredient
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    Made without BHA, BHT or Ethoxyquin
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    Low-fat, low-calorie design won’t spoil your dog’s dinner

Ingredients: Pork liver, barley flour, potato flour, sucrose, bacon, potato starch, glycerin, wheat bran, gelatin, rice flour, flax seed, salt, natural smoke flavor, garlic powder, potassium sorbate, mustard, iron oxide, citric acid, mixed tocopherols, rosemary.

User Reviews: Most owners were quite pleased with Crazy Dog Train-Me! Training Rewards and explained that their dog loved the way they tasted. A few owners even noted that these treats were easy to break in half, which means that you can get twice the value you’d expect from each bag.

A few owners did find the smell of these treats to be off-putting, but others were not troubled by this issue.

Bottom Line: Crazy Dog Train-Me! Training Rewards are healthy and convenient dog training treats, which most pets seem to love. They have just about every characteristic you’d want in a training treat and, as they contain only 1.5 Calories each, these treats are a great choice for dogs on diets, small breeds and puppies.

2. Zuke's Mini Naturals Dog Treats

Zuke’s Mini Naturals are corn-, soy- and wheat-free dog training treats, which are available in seven different flavors. Made in the USA and formulated with cherries and turmeric, these treats are sure to tempt your pet’s palate and motivate him during training sessions.

Price: $$$

Features:

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    ​Contain less than 3 Calories per treat
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    Tender, meaty texture dogs love
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    Fortified with vitamins and minerals to support your pet’s health

Ingredients: Chicken, ground rice, ground barley, malted barley, vegetable glycerin, tapioca, cherries, natural flavor, gelatin, sunflower oil, salt, lecithin, phosphoric acid, turmeric, sorbic acid (preservative), ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), Vitamin E supplement, zinc proteinate, citric acid (preservative), mixed tocopherols (preservative), rosemary extract.

User Reviews: Most owners spoke highly of Zuke’s Mini Naturals Dog Treats, and reported that their dog seemed to love the taste. However, several owners complained that these treats had a particularly offensive odor (by human standards – dogs don’t seem to mind). Additionally, the treats appear to dry out very quickly, so you’ll need to use them fairly quickly.

Bottom Line: Zuke’s Mini Naturals are full of healthy and delicious ingredients, and most owners will be pleased to give their pet such wholesome treats. However, they are not easy to break in half for very small dogs or puppies, and they have relatively brief shelf lives.

3. Pet Botanics Training Rewards

Pet Botanics Training Rewards are small dog training treats, designed to be easy for owners to carry and delicious for dogs to eat. Made in the USA and formulated with real pork liver, these 3-calorie treats are a great option for your dog’s training needs.

Price: $

Features:

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    ​Moist pellet formula prevents crumbling
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    Fortified with vitamins and minerals to support your dog’s health
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    Made with several botanical ingredients, such as blueberries and dandelion

Ingredients: Pork Liver, Pea Flour, Potatoes, Dried Whole Eggs, Glycerin, Sugar, Brown Rice, Barley Flour, Tapioca Flour, Bacon, Sweet Potatoes, Natural Smoke Flavor, Lecithin, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid), Sodium Lactate, Salt, Flax Seed, Lactic Acid, Carrageenan, Palm Oil, Phosphoric Acid, Salmon Oil, Zinc Propionate (A Preservative), Calcium Propionate (A Preservative), Molasses, Caramel Color, Garlic, Mustard, Iron Oxide (A Color), Carrots, Natural Chicken Flavor, Green Tea Extract, Cranberries, Peppermint, Chamomile, Rosemary, Dandelion, Blueberries, Yucca schidigera

User Reviews: The majority of owners who tried these treats were very pleased. Owners loved the ingredients used in the recipe, while dogs simply appear to love the taste. And, while some dogs may prefer crunchier treats, most owners reported that their dog loved the texture of Pet Botanics Training Rewards.

Bottom Line: Generally speaking, Pet Botanics Training Rewards are high-quality and tasty treats, which are also quite affordably priced. While it is slightly disappointing to see sugar listed among the ingredients, these treats are otherwise made with only the best foods.

4. BLUE Bits Dog Training Treats

BLUE Bits Dog Training Treats are premium treats, designed to taste great while also supporting your pet’s health. Made with real chicken rather than chicken meal or chicken byproducts, BLUE Bits are sure to be a hit with your dog, and their impressive omega-3 fatty acid content makes them a favorite among owners as well.

Price: $$$$

Features:

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    ​Packed with nutritious ingredients, including deboned chicken, brown rice and oatmeal
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    Fortified with vitamins, minerals and ingredients rich in omega-3 fatty acids
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    Suitable for dogs and puppies larger than 5 pounds

Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Whole Ground Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Maple Syrup, Vegetable Glycerin, Whole Ground Potato, Gelatin, Salt, Flaxseed (source of Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids), Phosphoric Acid (an acidifier), Natural Smoke Flavor, Salmon Oil (source of DHA-Docosahexaenoic Acid), Sorbic Acid, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Citric Acid, Mixed Tocopherols (source of Vitamin E), Rosemary.

User Reviews: Most of the reviews for BLUE Bits Dog Training Treats were very positive. Dogs seemed to love the taste and texture of the treats, while owners were excited to be able to give their pet treats made from such high-quality ingredients.

Some owners lamented the size of the treats and wished they were smaller, but this shouldn’t be a problem for those with large breeds.

Bottom Line: BLUE Bits Dog Training Treats not only make it easier to train your dog, they allow you to get more omega-3 fatty acids in your dog’s diet too. These treats are a bit on the expensive side, but given the impressive ingredients contained in the recipe, they are well worth the expense.

5. Wellness Natural Grain Free Puppy Training Treats

Wellness Natural produces some of the best pet foods available, and their grain-free dog training treats are made with a similar commitment to quality. Made with real chicken and no artificial flavors, colors or additives, Wellness Natural Grain-Free Treats are a healthy and delicious treat for training your puppy.

Price: $$$$$

Features:

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    ​Lamb-based recipe makes these treats taste great
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    Salmon and flaxseed included to provide Omega-3 fatty acids
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    Soft texture makes it easy to break these treats in two

Ingredients: Lamb, Salmon (A Natural Source of DHA, Docosahexaenoic Acid), Ground Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Vegetable Glycerin, Guar Gum, Cane Molasses, Carrots, Salt, Natural Smoke Flavor, Garlic, Blueberries, Flaxseed, Sweet Potatoes, Apples, Phosphoric Acid (A Natural Acidifier), Sorbic Acid (A Preservative), and Mixed Tocopherols (A Natural Preservative).

User Reviews: The vast majority of owners who tried Wellness Natural Grain-Free Training Treats were very pleased with the product. Most dogs appear to love the lamb-based recipe, which makes these treats perfect for training. A few owners did note that these treats gave their dog excessive gas, but that’s a relatively minor issue.

Bottom Line: Wellness Natural Grain-Free Puppy Training Treats are some of the most expensive training treats on the market, but given their dog-approved taste and impressive ingredient list, they are probably worth the additional expense.

However, it is troubling that this product is labeled as being grain-free, yet it clearly includes two different grains – ground brown rice and oatmeal. These are both nutritious, high-value grains, but owners who are seeking to provide a truly grain-free diet will want to look elsewhere.

Use Caution when Giving Your Dog Training Treats

Be careful to avoid providing your dog with too many treats. Doing so may upset his stomach or – if you make a habit of providing too many treats – it can cause him to gain weight. You can even cause nutritional imbalances by providing too many treats, as it may cause your dog to eat less of his real food at dinner time.

Also, you’ll want to avoid providing too many treats during training sessions, to help reduce the chances that your dog will suffer from bloat. It is also wise to mind your fingers when giving your dog treats – particularly if you own a big canine. Dogs often become very excited during training sessions, and even the gentlest dogs may accidentally nip their owner’s fingers in such cases.  

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Have you found a great dog training treat that has worked for you and your pet? We’d love to hear about your experiences. Let us know the brand you prefer and the flavor your dog seems to like the most.