The Best Training Treats For Puppies, According To An Actual Trainer
What to look for (and avoid) when buying puppy training treats.
Treats are crucial when it comes to training your puppy, since positive reinforcement is the most effective way to get her to actually retain the things you’re teaching her.
Of course, you want to find the best treats for puppies so your BFF will be excited to learn “sit,” “stay” and anything else you can think of.
The Dodo spoke with Iris Ulbrich, a behavior consultant and owner of Trust Your Dog in Los Angeles, to find out straight from a trainer which puppy training treats are best.
How to find the best training treats for your puppy
When it comes to finding the very best puppy training treats, there are certain things you have to consider, like:
“A trail mix of treats is usually best,” Ulbrich told The Dodo. Basically, this means having a combination of low-value, medium-value and high-value treats on hand.
(A low-value treat is something like a piece of her normal kibble, and a high-value treat is something she just can’t resist.)
According to Ulbrich, you should try mixing them all together in a treat bag so your pup stays interested even if you don’t toss her the best of the bunch.
“The treats will start smelling like each other,” Ulbrich explained. “The pup will always hope for the best treat when you reach into the training bag but will settle even for kibble.”
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It’s important to mix those treats together in one bag (if you don’t want your pocket to smell like puppy snacks), but you should also have a few pieces of your puppy’s favorite treats — the ones she would do absolutely anything for — in a separate compartment.
“In a different compartment, keep the ultimate kryptonite for the really tricky situations in training, or for when the puppy is quite tired, but you want ... to get that one last successful behavior out of them,” Ulbrich said.
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The best ingredients for puppy training treats
You want to make sure the treats are good for your puppy because she’ll be eating a lot of them.
“The more natural the ingredients, the better,” Ulbrich said. “Freeze-dried treats, human-grade treats, low sodium and as few additives as possible are recommended.”
Be sure to keep calories in mind, too, since training requires a ton of treats.
“It’s a bonus if the treat has a lovely, pungent smell to it,” Ulbrich said.
That smell is going to keep her excited, focused and eager to learn.
The best size and texture for puppy training treats
“Small treats that don’t need a lot of chewing are great,” Ulbrich said. “Human-nail-sized treats for the quick, instant gratification when the puppy does well [are] more than sufficient.”
And when it comes to puppy training treats, dry snacks are the way to go.
“Since you will most likely be using a training bag, I don’t recommend using wet treats, especially when you are trail mixing the treats,” Ulbrich explained.
What to avoid in puppy training treats
“Anything too big, too chewy, too crunchy or too dry is usually counterproductive,” Ulbrich said.
That’s because those kinds of treats can keep your puppy from staying focused during a training session.
“If treats are too big, the puppy will be full after a few repetitions and [lose] motivation,” Ulbrich explained. “If they are too crunchy and it takes too long to chew, training success and progression might be a bit slower.”
The best puppy training treats
Since you need low-, medium- and high-value options for puppy training, Ulbrich has recommendations for each treat type.
“For a low-value reward, I recommend premium kibble, such as Orijen,” Ulbrich said. “[It’s] great to mix in with actual treats.”
When it comes to medium-value training treats, Ulbrich suggests Buddy Biscuits. “They are perfectly sized soft chews and affordable medium-value treats,” Ulbrich said. “Puppies like all flavors.”
Another great medium-value puppy training treat similar to Buddy Biscuits are the Blue Buffalo Blue Bits, which are softer and enriched with DHA that helps support cognitive development. Pet parents have rated these treats highly because their puppies can’t seem to get enough.
Pet parents also love the Pet Botanics Training Reward treats, which have over 14,200 five-star reviews on Amazon. The formula is healthy and packed with vitamins and nutrients, and they’re so tasty your puppy will learn new cues in no time.
For high-value treats, Ulbrich recommends going the freeze-dried route. “Freeze-dried, single-ingredient treats such as Stella & Chewy’s [are] loved by most dogs,” Ulbrich said.
With the right treats, your puppy will have the basics down in no time!