Whether you’re potty training or honing your dog’s acting skills with the most convincing “Play Dead” in existence, chances are some high-value training treats will do the trick (a little pun intended). There are a couple things I look for in a quality treat: size (close to a pencil eraser is ideal; you don’t want to pack on unnecessary calories!) and taste (IMO, soft & chewy is better and more palatable than a crunchy treat).
A third and arguably most important factor is whether your dog actually likes it. It’s not a bad idea to grab two or three different bags with a variety of flavors. If your dog turns his nose up at any of them, just donate to your local shelter! Volunteers (and dogs) LOVE a little enrichment, and a pup with good manners is a big plus for adopters.
If it sounds gross to you, it probably tastes like a slice of heaven to your dog. My dog adores the liver-flavored Tricky Trainers, and she is NOT a food-motivated canine. I will confidently make the statement that dogs who are not enticed by food are the most difficult to train, so finding a treat they go bonkers for is so, so important, and it makes training fun!
These treats are wheat, corn, & soy free and low in calories, and at 14oz per bag they’ll last you quite a while. Pro tip when training: stop your sessions before your pup gets bored or frustrated. Quick 5–10 minute bursts are great and ensure your eager pupil STAYS eager and ready to learn.
A 1lb bag of these drool-worthy snacks will go a loooong way in obedience school. Zuke’s training treats are small and moist with lots of flavor—the ultimate enticer! They come in several flavors, including peanut butter, salmon, chicken, duck, and even rabbit, which is great if your pup has food sensitivities to more common ingredients. They’re also free of wheat, corn, and soy for the grain-intolerant.
As a bonus, these and other training treats are the perfect size for treat-dispensing toys and puzzles to help keep dogs’ minds occupied between training sessions.
I’ve yet to meet a dog who doesn’t enjoy a soft, chewy treat, but they never fail to surprise me. Wellness offers a crunchy and soft option for training treats, but these grain-free chicken and carrot-flavored bites get rave reviews from humans and puppies alike.
These little snacks contain DHA for healthy brain development in the younger whippersnappers, plus antioxidant-rich blueberries, flaxseed for healthy skin, and veggies like peas, spinach, and broccoli. Not to mention crunchy treats provide a little extra “brush” for healthy teeth and fresh breath.
Made in the USA (like all the treats on this list), Mini Yumzies are grain-free and the perfect size to train with. They may as well be a bag of “roll-overs” or “go-potty-outsiders,” because that’s exactly what they’re meant to do for you and your dog. While you’re working that fantastically smart puppy brain, you can also feel great knowing these treats contain Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coats.
One of my pup’s favorites! No Grainers are 100% grain, wheat, corn, and soy-free, and come in a mouth-watering Hickory Bacon flavor. The best thing about this bag is that it’s monster-sized: 2 entire pounds of training treats goes an insanely long way, and they’re shaped like kidney beans if that kinda thing matters to you. Note: The alternate BBQ chicken-flavored treats in the Amazon link above are larger jerky treats, not ideal for frequent training use.
Kudos to Natural Balance for offering a variety pack option on Amazon! That’s exactly the kind of taste testing you should be trying with a new pup who doesn’t yet know his likes or dislikes. The chicken, duck, and lamb flavors come in 4oz bags at no more than 5 calories per treat, and they’re great for (and beloved by) dogs of *all* ages.
When it comes to high value, freeze-dried treats are one totem higher on the pole of deliciousness. I love that Stewart’s treats come in an easily resealable tub, and freeze-dried treats by nature are easy to break in pieces if you’d prefer something smaller. Right now they’re available with single-ingredient beef liver treats in up to a 21oz container.
Turkey is probably one of my favorite ingredients in any dog treat or food, because it’s so uncommon that it’s almost impossible for a dog to have an allergy to it (boo, allergies!). These Natural Pup training treats are small enough to give during quick training sessions, but they can still be broken in half so you get a little more longevity out of your bag. They’re also wheat and gluten free, and contain zero artificial flavors or preservatives.
Fruitables smell so good even to a human nose, and they were a hit when I was active in the pet specialty supply shop game. These tiny, low-cal bites come in a WIDE variety of flavors, including but not limited to pumpkin & berry, grilled bison, apple bacon, watermelon, and sweet potato & pecan. Is your
dog’s mouth watering yet?
These travel-friendly bags come in several flavors and are great for bringing along to puppy school or out and about. They claim to “shorten the learning curve,” which is pretty appealing when you’re thinking about potty or leash training. And with only 1 1/2 calories per treat, you can feel comfortable your pup won’t start packing on the pounds.
When in doubt, buy a few different flavors from a few different brands! If you’re really looking to cut calories, and if your dog is super motivated by their own kibble, just portion out some of their daily meals to use as treats. They’ll be happy, you’ll be happy, and hopefully they’ll learn a little something along the way.