Training a dog using positive reinforcement often calls for the use of dog treats. The best dog training treats are small, soft, and something your dog really enjoys. Keep in mind that treats should only account for a small portion of your dog's diet. Too many treats may lead to obesity in dogs and other health problems. The following are some great ideas for treats you can use to train a dog:
1. Table Food
Most of the time, it is not recommended to give your dogs scraps from the table. You may want to make an exception when you teach your dog an emergency recall. This command is used to make sure your dog will come immediately in an emergency situation, such as when he is about to run in front of a moving car. In this instance, non-toxic foods such as roast beef, steak, ham, and turkey may work as a great motivator to ensure your dog responds to the emergency recall when you need it most.
2. Hot Dogs
Hot dogs are a quick, inexpensive treat. Dogs who aren't motivated to work for other types of treats will often work for hot dogs.
Here's how to turn hot dogs into the perfect training treats:
- Cut hot dogs up into small pieces about the size of a pea.
- Cook the hot dog pieces in the oven or microwave until they are very well done. This will make them dry rather than greasy when you're holding them.
- Keep cooked hot dogs in sealed containers or baggies in the refrigerator until you are ready to use.
Hot dogs are not ideal for every dog. If your dog is overweight, has a sensitive stomach, or has any other health issues, it's a good idea to talk to your veterinarian before you give him hot dogs.
3. Cheese Sticks
String cheese is more than just a snack for your child's lunchbox. It also makes a great dog treat! It is soft and most dogs find it appetizing. The individual packaging makes it easy to carry with you to use whenever you want to work on training a dog. Since it only takes a small nibble of a treat to motivate most dogs, you can break off small pieces of cheese to reward your dog. Just keep in mind that cheese and other dairy products don't always agree with a dog's stomach. You may want to discuss using cheese as a dog treat with your veterinarian.
4. Packaged Training Treats
If you check out the dog treat aisle of your favorite pet supply store, you'll find that there are a number of companies making dog treats that are perfect for dog training, such as Cloud Star Tricky Trainers.
If you are in doubt as to whether a treat will work for training, here is what to look for:
- Treats that are no larger than a piece of kibble.
- Treats that are soft and moist.
- High quality ingredients.
Many of the pre-packaged treats come in a variety of flavors, so you are bound to find something your dog likes.
5. Natural Balance Treat Rolls
Natural Balance Treats come in a roll, and you can break off small pieces to use as you train. It is soft, all-natural, and most dogs love it. This type of dog treat is ideal because it provides the perfect balance between good nutrition and a taste your dog loves which will motivate him to work.
If you are working on training a dog before his mealtime, he may be hungry enough to work for his dinner. Keep a handful of his kibble handy, and use it to reward him when you get the behavior you want.
The downside to using dog food is that some dogs won't find it rewarding enough, especially if there are lots of other distractions around. It's also crunchy so it may take him a few minutes to chew which can slow down the training process.