The best dog treats for training have to have certain qualities and, of course, be delicious. Keep in mind that not all dogs are the same when it comes to treats. Some dogs could care less that you have a treat and some will “wolf” down anything you hand them,even if it’s not food.
Also, the size of your dog makes a difference. A little Yorkshire Terrier will require a much different treat than the Great Dane.
There will always be dogs that defy common sense. Meaning, if I say it takes a dog some time to chew up a biscuit treat, I know that there is a dog out there that will swallow it whole. I think dogs are like kids in that respect. If I say they won’t, they will. :)
Here are the things I look for in a dog training treat.
Consistency - soft
I like a treat to be soft so it is easily chewed and quickly swallowed. Biscuit-type treats that are crunchy usually take some time for the dog to chew. The exception to this would be small kibble-like treats.
Size - small
Treats should be small in relation to the size of the dog. A pea-sized treat would be acceptable for a Chihauhua and a nickel-sized treat would work for a Labrador Retriever. If they are too small your dog won’t be impressed. If they are too big, your dog may have to get a fork and a knife. ;)
Texture - firm, semi-dry
This kind of goes with my soft consistency. A treat that is too wet or juicy would just be messy. This goes for anything greasy, sticky, or slimy. A banana would be a good example of a treat not to use for training. This isn’t to say dogs can’t have bananas, they just wouldn’t make a good treat for training.
Smell - meaty
Or at least appetizing to us. Anything that smells good to us will smell good to a dog. Fishy smelling treats would be good too, even though I don’t particularly like the smell of some the fish-based training treats. I would say that anything meat-based will be the best smelling treat for dogs.
Here are some examples to try out:
Liver works the best if it’s cooked, of course. You can season it if you like with some herbs or garlic and bake it. Boiling it would work out okay too and then you can season it after it’s done. Then cut in up into bite-sized pieces for your dog.
If you have some leftovers, you might want to cut it up and use it for training. I like to look for sales on rump roast at the supermarket and bake it up for treat training.
The firmer the cheese the better. Depending on several circumstances cheese could fall into the messy category. If it's handled a lot it could get warm and sticky and maybe even greasy. Cheese can be placed in a dish to minimize the cleanup.
At one training class that I went to, I learned about this trick from the instructor. He recommended buying turkey hotdogs because they were very reasonably priced. You then slice the hot dog lengthwise, then slice it crosswise. Place the pieces on a paper towel-lined microwave-safe plate and cook on High for 2 to 3 minutes until the pieces were crispy. Blot with another paper towel.
Of course you can always buy some great treats too.
When looking for dog treats for training keep in mind “soft, small, firm, and meaty.” You won’t go wrong with that combination!
use dog treats sparingly if you are trying something new out. Watch
for food allergies (itchy skin or vomiting) and stop using the treats
that cause discomfort. See your veterinarian if these symptoms don’t
stop after discontinuing the treats. After all, we want to keep your
dog healthy as well as good-mannered.
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