Finding the right dog treats when training your dog is important if you want to work with positive reinforcement. What are the best treats for dog training? Find out here what you need to know about your dog’s treat size, nutritional composition, and preferences!
Dog treats are an important part of dog training because they are one of the most important positive reinforcers besides the rewards of playing. Dog treats are perfect for motivating the dog – however, the motivation of the dog rises and falls depending on the type of treat and the taste of the individual dog. There are several points you should be aware of when choosing a reward for dog training.
1) Your dog’s favorite treats
It is obvious that dogs are more motivated to work for a food reward that they like than for less tasty dog food. Every dog has individual preferences for what he likes. For example, some dogs like carrots, others don’t like them at all.
A recent study found that dogs ran faster for a higher quality treat (sausage) than for lower quality (dry food). Interestingly, the number of food pieces had no influence on the running speed (Riemer et al. 2018).
Tip: So you should find out what your dog likes. Large pieces are not necessary to motivate your dog even more – even pull small pieces of food!
2) The right treats for the lesson in dog training
Some types of food fit better for some exercises than to others. In obedience exercises, for example, the dog owner should quickly give the dog many small handy treats as a reward. Pet Dog Pals has a great list of the best dog training treats. This is not practical with large, unwieldy pieces of food. If the dog is called back, the treat can also be larger. It should be something particularly tasty because coming back is an exercise that should always be 100% sitting and by distraction, the reward is often not so well accepted. This works best when the reward is also extremely good. So add something to it that never exists otherwise, a higher quality reward, such as a piece of tripe.
Food can also be used as a management method, for example, to make a harness or muzzle. With food that the dog can lick off (particularly suitable is liver sausage paté from a tube), the dog can be lured into the right position. You can also use a refillable food tube and fill it with your dog’s taste.
Tip: As a homemade recipe you can use, for example, cottage cheese mixed with tuna, which is brought to the desired consistency with water. You can also store it frozen.
Food can of course also help if the dog needs to be distracted by something (e.g. other dogs etc.) and no training session is taking place. So you can see that when choosing the right treat for dog training, you should also take exercise into account.
3) Variety in dog reward
For many dogs, variety in treats is the right answer. Every dog has its own preferences as to what it likes and doesn’t like. Some dogs always like the same treats the most, others like variety on the menu. If your dog is bored with one type of treat, switching to a different treat can help.
Tip: Make sure you keep a variety of treats in your treat bag and take along treats of different popularity. This way you can vary the reward if he has done something particularly well or adjust the food to the exercises.
4) Dog requirements: hypoallergenic treats Dog
Some dogs only tolerate special food. For dogs with a food allergy, attention should also be paid to the compatibility of the treats. The feed manufacturers of special food for dogs often offer wet food and allergy-friendly treats in addition to dry food. Nevertheless, this makes it possible to differentiate between the rewards and thus provides additional motivation.
5) Ingredients – feed requirement per day!
When you buy treats, pay attention to the ingredients. Since dogs, unlike cats, can also taste the sweetness, sugar is often used from flavor carriers. In addition, sugar also keeps moisture in the food.
Tip: The number of treats should not exceed 10% of the daily energy requirement. If you follow the feeding recommendations of the treat packs, it would usually exceed this recommendation by far. It is therefore essential to make sure that the feed ration is reduced by the number of treats. Otherwise, the risk of the dog becoming overweight is very high.
Which treats for dog training are generally well-received by dogs!
The advantage of fried chicken breast is that the reward is 100% chicken and you can portion the treats yourself into the right size. Of course, home-cooked treats require a little more effort than ready-made industrial treats.
The big advantage of tripe is that they smell extremely bad and dogs usually love them. They can also be easily cut into small pieces. So the training can also take a little longer. Some tripe are made of beef, others are from other animal species, which are easier to chop. It is best to read on the packaging which ingredients are contained and whether they suit your requirements and those of your dog.
Dogs seem to find dried sardines very tasty. They can also be easily halved, making the treats smaller and more suitable for training. Have you ever served these treats to your dog?
If you want to buy your dog a healthy treat, dried meat is a good idea. You can also cut them into small, dog-friendly treats so that you have something to eat longer during training.
Preference list of dog treats for your dog
If you want to find out which treats your dog likes the most, see how eagerly he devours them. Or just do a preference test and give your dog the choice:
Simply place two bowls side by side and put a piece of reward in each one. Then you let your dog go and observe which bowl he eats first. The reward your dog eats first is his first choice and therefore his favorite treat. The preference test is also used in scientific studies. To get a clear evaluation, you have to do several runs, just like in real studies, to get a clear result. It may take a little time for your dog to understand the new “game”.
Make sure you use bowls for the treats and not your hands, because in normal life you always prefer one hand to give treats and your dog is more likely to eat from that hand. You should also offer the bowls with the respective treat type on the left and right. Many dogs prefer to go in one direction and this would falsify your results. Also, try not to influence your dog’s voice or body language. Dogs are very sensitive observers and can react to your gaze and see it as an invitation to go there. If you do this with many different treats, you can create a separate list of your dog’s favorite treats.