Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Training Treats Tips and Tricks

I get asked all the time about what kind of treats I use for training and what kinds they should buy. There's a huge market for dog treats. Aisles and aisles of them at the pet store. I personally don't use commercial treats very often. 

I prefer using healthy treats and since my dogs are small/medium it's hard to find treats at the pet store that are small enough and actually appealing to them. Most of the time I cook my own treats or save left over meat from dinner and freeze it. Their favorites are chicken and beef. I also like to use Natural Balance food rolls. Very occasionally they will get hot dogs and cheese and sometimes I will even dehydrate treats for them. 

Treats on the dehydrator trays, beef and chicken

Pet store treats that I do buy include: charlie bears, bil jacs and wellness treats. Every once in a while we will pick up some healthy biscuits, too.

Recently a friend of mine made a ton of salmon treats and sent me some and my dogs have been loving those!

They don't get high value stuff in every session but I will pull it out for the more complicated stuff like training heel work, any kind of behavioral modification (counter conditioning/desensitization) or if I want to make a trick video and need them to be extra excited and having their heads in the game and I also use them when we go off leash hiking and working on recalls. etc.

For every day training sessions that are not complicated I will use their meals. They are fed a kibble diet and they will work for a lot of their food. Sometimes I will add stuff to their kibble to make it more interesting. I use a little natural balance and some water or broth or chicken juice. 

I do wear a bait bag when I'm out and about with them. It's the easiest way for me to deliver treats but they will also work without it. They are not dependent on the bait bag or treats being there for behavior to happen. My favorite bait bag is the Doggone Good one.

I always tell people to use what their dog likes but to keep in mind that some treats are higher value than others and you might need different treats for specific situations. In example, I wouldn't use kibble in a training class or the beach but at home it works just fine. In highly distracting environments you need high value treats. I also recommend switching up treats and not using the same stuff all the time. I've been known to bring several different kinds of meat with me when I'm in a seriously distracting environment. You always want to keep them guessing so they never know what they are going to get. It keeps things interesting that way. 

If anyone has any questions feel free to ask! 


  1. I mix up a bag of doggie trail mix!

  2. Nice post! I've always thought about dehydrating some treats for the dogs - I wish we had room left for one :) For now we use a lot of freeze dried treats that are 100% (whatever ingredient) - cheese, chicken, liver, etc. I also have a few others that are tiny little training treats that work well when I can't use the freeze dried ones (they are super flaky and don't work well when needing to deliver quickly by tossing through the air to train certain tricks).

  3. Good post - thanks for sharing that bag, I've been looking for a good one, I will check it out.

    1. Thanks!! Yeah, out of all the bait bags I've been through the Doggone Good one is my favorite!

  4. We have begun to dehydrate apples, bananas, and sweet potatoes for the boys. We can enjoy them too. Have you ever dehydrated carrots? I just wonder if they work well because they are a favorite.

  5. Great post! Because I'm mean, I often put a piece or two of hotdog in a bag of cheerios. They go nuts for them, and much healthier and less messy than straight hotdog.

    1. That's a really good idea!! I couldn't put hotdog in with cheerios, though. Mine don't like cheerios because they get stuck in their carnassials like glue! It's so weird!

  6. Small mini treats are the best for training. Smelly treats helps out too :-) Golden Woofs


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