Why do we use treats during dog training?
Rewarding your dog’s behavior with a treat is one of the most effective ways to reinforce positive behavior. Let’s face it, our dogs love to eat! Whether they’re eating their kibble, a dog biscuit, or even an ornament, dogs love to hoover down anything that’s in front of them. Healthy dog training treats are no exception!
We recently wrote about the benefit of using high quality dog treats when training your puppy or dog. Training with high quality dog treats is not only important, but necessary. This is particularly true if you’re crate training your dog or getting them used to their playpen.
However, not all dog treats are made the same. Surely you’ve heard about recent reports about unsafe dog treats coming from China. Or how the red dye in some dog treats is bad for your dog!
What to look out for in dog treats?
Is the product made in the USA?
Dog treats made in the USA are of much higher quality and held to much higher standards than ones made overseas. You’ll probably end up paying a few cents extra, but it’s well worth it
Does the dog treat contain red dye?
If the dog treat contains red dye, it’s best to avoid the treat altogether. Red dye has been known to cause gastrointestinal problems and seizures, among other things, in your dog.
Does the dog treat contain actual meat or just meat-by-product?
While research has shown that there isn’t anything wrong with meat-by-product per-se, it’s best to just buy treats that contain whole meat, such as chicken, beef, or fish.
Does the dog treat mostly contain grain?
Just like with humans, grains can be both good and bad for dogs. Grains are a great way for your dog to receive their essential calories, but in excess, can lead to weight gain. If your dog’s kibble contains a lot of grain, then you’re going to want to avoid this in their dog treats.
Always read the label!
Make sure you always read the label before you purchase your dog treats. If you can easily understand the ingredients, then odds are you’re looking at healthy dog training treats.
If you cannot easily understand the label, put the dog treats back on the shelf.
Are bully sticks safe?
Short answer: Yes
Long answer: It depends
Like any other dog treat, it’s important that you understand what’s going in your dog’s body. Bully sticks are considered to be a safe dog food. However, like dog treats, it’s important that you know where the bully stick was made and if there’s anything in the bully stick other than meat.
If you are unable to find these answers, do not give the bully stick to your dog.
Also, while healthy bully sticks are a great treat for your dog, make sure you monitor your dog’s consumption of them. If they just ate a full meal and are now chewing through a 12” bully stick, it’s probably best to take the bully stick away until later.
What are some healthy dog training treats?
Ok so now that you know what to look for in your dog treats, we present to you 5 of our favorite healthy dog training treats!
Zuke’s Mini Naturals Dog Treats!
These are our favorite dog training treats for reinforcement training. When we say reinforcement training, we mean when we’ve already initially trained our dog to do something, such as sit, and now we are rapidly reinforcing the behavior.
Zuke’s Mini Naturals Dog Treats are made in the USA, low in calorie, no grain, very high in meat content, and easy to chew. Our dogs absolutely LOVE them.
They make great training treats because of how easy to chew they are. Our dogs chew and swallow them within a second. This makes them great for rapid reinforcement training.
These are what we used when we began clicker training our dog. They also proved handy when we began crate training!
Old Mother Hubbard Crunch Classic Natural Dog Treats
Old Mother Hubbard has been making high quality dog treats since 1926. They are very good at what they do. They make a wide assortment of dog treats, ranging from biscuits to soft and chewy training treats. We love giving our dog a crunchy P-Nuttier biscuit when he’s been a good boy.
One of our favorite things to do is to take a hallowed femur bone, fill the middle with Kong Stuff’N Easy Treat (Peanut Butter), and then stuff 2 Old Mother Hubbard P-Nuttiers on either end. When you stuff the P-Nuttiers way in there, nice and tight, it makes it a real challenge for your dog to get them out and get to the Kong Peanut Butter spread. This occupies our dog for HOURS on end. It’s amazing for when you’re looking to have a lovely, distraction-free night with your significant other!
Fruitables Crunchy Dog Treats
Full disclosure – These smell amazing and you will be tempted to eat them yourself. Try and resist though, because they’re for your dog!
Fruitables Crunchy Dog Treats are excellent healthy dog training treats. Your dog will go wild for them. They’re soft enough so your dog can chew them down in less than a second. They’re low in calories and only made from natural ingredients right here in the ole US of A!
They are one of the few pumpkin dog treats on the market that we trust for our dogs. You really cannot go wrong with Fruitables Crunchy Dog Treats!
GREENIES Dental Dog Treats and Dog Chews
Okay so these aren’t necessarily dog training treats, but they definitely deserve a mention. GREENIES Dental Dog Treats and Dog Chews are ESSENTIAL for every dog owner to have.
GREENIES brand products reduce tarter and plaque on your dog’s teeth, keeping their mouth nice and healthy. We have always given our dog’s GREENIES Dental Dog Treats and Dog Chews and we have never had a problem with any of our dog’s teeth. Our veterinarian always compliments our puppies on their beautiful smiles!
They are, of course, pet safe and made in the USA!
We find them to be so essential that we even setup a subscription with Amazon, so that a new box arrives at our doorstep every other month. It’s great!
90% Lean Ground Beef!
What? Yes! Go to your local grocery store, buy some 90%+ lean ground beef, cook it up in your frying pan, drain it, let it cool, and voila, you have a great, easy, healthy dog training treat!
Seriously, thoroughly cooked ground beef (or chicken or turkey) is great for your dog. Just make sure that the meat is thoroughly cooked and you only give them a reasonable amount each time you train.
The beef is very easy for dogs to chew through and they will always be wanting more.
The best part is that you know what’s in the dog treat (beef) and where it came from!
The only downside is that you have to do some cooking and the ‘treats’ won’t last very long, so you have to use them within a short period of time.
However, if you run out of conventional dog training treats, some cooked ground meat is a great choice!
It’s very important that you only give train with healthy dog training treats. Pet safety should always be at the forefront of your mind. Take the extra minute to look at the label and make sure that the treats are safe for your dog. Easy rule of thumb – if you wouldn’t be willing to eat the treat, then you shouldn’t give it to your dog!
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