This post is written by guest author, Britt Kascjak, from Shed Happens.
Training treats are often used as an incentive when teaching your pup new tricks and behaviors. The key is to find something that your dog is willing to work for, providing them with the right motivation. However, not all treats are created equally. So, we’re going to discuss how to choose the best HEALTHY training treats for your dog.
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Did you know that January is National Train Your Dog Month?
Many dog owners decided to kick off the year with a dog-focused New Year’s resolution.
They vowed that this year would be the year that they would teach their pup that new trick or basic obedience skill.
One of the most important factors of training (if you ask your dog) is deciding on how you are going to reward your friend for a job well done.
However, it is also important to consider your pup’s overall nutritional health.
The general rule of thumb is that treats should make up, at most, 10% of your dog’s daily calories.
How do you maintain regular training sessions without exceeding the recommended 10%?
Choose smaller, bite-sized options, stick to healthy lower-calorie treats and consider trying some non-food reward alternatives (which I will discuss below).
Also, be sure to adjust your dog’s meals accordingly to avoid overfeeding.
Today I’m going to share my list of the best healthy training treats for your dog as well as some non-food rewards that your dog will love.
If your dog becomes bored of their reward, they may be less responsive to training.
You can prevent this from happening by using a variety of different options and changing it up occasionally during your sessions.
Check Out These Healthy Dog Training Treats:
Icelandic+ Combo Bites
A great single-ingredient option, Icelandic+ Fish Treats are not only a great motivator but also offer several great health benefits for your dog. Packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, these treats will promote a shiny coat and healthy skin.
The small size of the ‘Combo Bites’ treats are perfect for training purposes. Plus, with no preservatives, additives, or supplements, you can use these treats as rewards without worrying about what you’re giving your dog.
Moose Pup Nuggets
Made from wild Alaska salmon and fresh spinach, Drool Central’s Moose Pup Nuggets are also a great training treat option to consider. Spinach is often overlooked when selecting healthy ingredients for dogs, but it does contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, B6, C, E and K, folate, calcium, iron, potassium, and more!
These treats are made fresh in the United States and are free from artificial flavorings/seasonings, artificial coloring, refined sugars, processed fats, and artificial preservatives. They are also free from wheat and corn, made instead with Alaska-grown barley flour.
Charlee Bear Original Crunch
Another smaller, bite-sized treat option is the Charlee Bear Original Crunch treat. Weighing in at less than 3 calories per treat, these delicious goodies are a great option to reward your pup while keeping their calorie intake in check.
In addition to being a healthy choice for your dog, they are free from soy, corn, and artificial flavors or preservatives. The Original Crunch treats are designed to be ‘Pocket Perfect’. This means that you can throw them in your pocket when heading out for a training session without worrying about them leaving smells and stains or crumbling into little pieces.
Only Natural Pet RawNibs Tripe
Made from 100% pure raw, freeze-dried beef tripe, Only Natural Pet RawNibs Tripe dog treats are a great option for those seeking a grain-free product. In addition to being grain-free, they are also free from fillers and preservatives making them a healthy option packed with protein.
Not only are these a great source of protein, but tripe is also often credited as being a ‘superfood’ for dogs. It will provide your dog with amino acids, essential fatty acids, and digestive enzymes, all beneficial in keeping your dog happy and healthy!
If you’re looking for a great option to increase your training time without adding to your dog’s calorie intake, consider using pieces of their regular dog kibble as treats. Not only are they the perfect size to be used as training treats, but it will also allow you to engage in longer training sessions without worrying about giving your dog too many treats.
Consider turning one of your dog’s meals into a training session. This is a great way to provide mental stimulation while avoiding overfeeding your dog. It is also an effective solution to slow down a dog that is eating too quickly at each meal.
Human Foods That Works as Training Treats
Many dog trainers believe that the best training treats available are actually simple human foods from your own refrigerator. A popular training treat used by trainers is a small piece of cooked chicken, turkey, or another meat of choice. Be careful to only feed meats that were cooked free from salts and spices and avoid meats high in fat.
There are also many dog-safe fruits and vegetables that are packed with nutritional value. Some popular options include carrots, apples, green beans, and bananas. When choosing these options, don’t forget that even fruits and vegetables should be fed in moderation!
Homemade Dog Treats
If you enjoy baking, you may want to make your own dog training treats. Doing so will allow you to control every ingredient that goes into your dog’s treats, ensuring that they are getting nothing but the best. For those dog owners that are trying to navigate food-related allergies, making your own treats may be a great way to give yourself peace of mind.
There are many different recipes for homemade dog treats available online including frozen treats, dog biscuits, and more. Remember to make your treats in small bite-sized portions if they are to be used for training purposes.
Finally, while food is a powerful motivator for dogs, it’s not the only option to reward your dog during training sessions. Some dogs aren’t as food oriented as others and may actually respond better to non-food reward options.
The biggest driving force for most dogs during training is simply to please YOU. Therefore, simply offering your attention and acknowledgement can be a great source of motivation. This includes praising your dog as well as giving them strokes and affection.
Another great option that works with many dogs is to use their favorite toy and some playtime as a reward. Squeaky dog toys are often a great motivator for dogs that are driven by a love for play, allowing you to continue training throughout the day without adding to your dog’s calorie intake.
Whatever reward you choose, remember that training time is a great bonding opportunity for you and your dog. Have fun and enjoy your time together!
Do you have a favorite training treat that I didn’t mention? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
About the Author: Britt is a proud pet mom, sharing her heart (and her home) with her ‘pack’ which includes her husband John, their 2 dogs Daviana and Indiana and their 2 cats Pippen and Jinx. She has been active in the animal rescue community for over 15 years, volunteering, fostering and advocating for organizations across Canada and the US. In her free time, she enjoys traveling around the country camping, hiking, and canoeing with her pets.