K9 of Mine
Let others know!

5 Best Dog Treats for Training: Get Fast Results From Fido!

Last Updated on:

Not all dog treats are created equal. Some treats are made for long-term chewing and are good for things like crate training. Others treats clean dog’s teeth or keep them entertained as they chew and lick.

Today, we’re talking specifically about the best treats for training. While pig ears, jerky, and stuffed Kongs are all great, we’re focusing on treats that help you train your dog and teach him to be a class act canine!

What Makes A Good Dog Training Treat?

These treats have a few specific parameters to meet:

1. Size Matters, So Think Small

When it comes to dog training, you’ll want to pick treats that are very, very tiny.

Imagine giving your child a cupcake every time she went to the bathroom, another when she washed her hands, and another whenever she said “please” and “thank you.” Your child would quickly gain weight, get sick, or at the very least fill up with food (and have no room for the meatloaf you slaved over all day)! Instead, you might reward a child with chocolate chips.

Dog training works the same – if you give your dog an entire bully stick every time he sits, you’re not going to have a very effective training session. Using smaller treats will help keep your dog in shape and excited to train, without filling him up or slowing down training.

2. Quick & Easy to Swallow

Stay away from crunchy or chewy treats for training purposes. Waiting for a dog to finish chewing slows down training – instead, stick to soft treats that are easily swallowed.

This is why trainers don’t often recommend training dogs with traditional dog biscuits – they take some time to eat.

Pro Trainer Tip: Soft, small treats are key to fast, safe training!

dog training treats3. Super Portable

Yes, your dog might love miniature meatballs. They’re healthy, small, and soft (and insanely tasty).

The downside is that they fall apart in your pocket and stain your jacket, so they might not be the best training treat, especially for walks.

If you wouldn’t put the treat in your pocket and don’t have a treat pouch, it’s not a good option.

4. Health & Nutrition

It should go without saying that nutrition matters for treats, too. Keep an eye out for all-natural ingredients, and aim for treats made in the USA that are USDA-inspected.

If your dog has specific dietary needs, such as needing special hypoallergenic dog treats, talk to your vet about which are the best treats for training your dog.

Finally, be sure to reduce the size of your dog’s dinner if you’re giving a lot of treats! You don’t want to fatten your pooch up too much!

5. Stinkiness – The Smellier, The Better!

Smelly treats often are yummy treats.

When you’re working on difficult tricks or training in distracting situations, you want the treats to be attention-grabbing. While some dogs will work for kibble or Cheerios, save the really good, stinky stuff for training.

Pro Trainer Tip: The more challenging your goals, the better the treat should be. Stinkiness for humans is often a good indicator of tastiness for dogs!

dog treats for dog trainingWhat To Avoid: Many commercial dog “cookies” or milk-bone type treats are not appropriate for training. They’re too big, and the crunchiness can even make them a potential choking hazard.

Cookie treats take too long to eat and are cumbersome. Finally, they’re not stinky or tasty enough for high-level training. While they’re a fine treat for hanging at home, we do not recommend using milk-bone type treats for training.

Training Treat Selection Tips: Finding Treats Your Dog Will Adore

Choosing the best dog treat for training your dog will go a long way in transforming your pup into the ideal canine citizen.

  • Check Ingredients. Be sure to read through ingredients on your dog’s treats. Try to avoid too many chemical-sounding ingredients, fillers, by-products, meals, grain products, or any allergens for your dog.
  • Experiment With Different Treats. Some dogs will do anything for freeze-dried liver. Other dogs prefer tiny apple bits. Get to know your dog’s tastes, and cater your treats to your dog’s personal preferences.

Try making a list of a bunch of your dog’s favorite foods, and rank them. This way, you can really pull out the big guns when you’re working on tough training situations, and use the mediocre treats for easy training sessions.

  • Keep It Interesting & Use Treat Variety. If your dog doesn’t know what’s coming out of your hand next, he’ll work harder. Just like slot machines are addicting for humans, offering a variety of different treats keeps your dog addicted to training. I often mix hot dog, kibble, and chicken in my treat bag. It keeps dogs interested and prevents them from getting too sick of any given treat!
  • Be Flexible. Believe it or not, dogs can get bored of food. Even if you have a list of your dog’s favorite foods, and regularly switch it up to keep him engaged, preferences can change. If it seems like chicken doesn’t hold the same magic anymore, go back to experimenting with other treats.
  • What Works For Both You & Fido. Picking the right treats is about what your dog likes, but it should also be within your budget and fit your nutritional goals for your dog. I personally train my dogs using hot dog and string cheese (it’s cheap and super effective), but if your dog is normally fed only organic free-range bison, this may make you cringe. Find what works for you and your dog.

Pro Trainer Tip: Consider getting a treat pouch to hold those tasty morsels! Small, chewy, stinky treats often don’t work well inside jacket pockets. Save yourself some grief, and get a treat pouch. Plus, a treat pouch is a much better – and more effective – accessory for dog training than a scary-looking (and painful) shock, prong, or choke collar!

Help! My Dog Isn’t Treat Motivated!

What if my dog isn’t treat-motivated? To any owner with a food-obsessed canine, the idea of treats not being able to motivate your dog sounds crazy! However, it does happen. Some dogs just don’t find treats rewarding – and that’s ok.

Does your dog like toys? Praise? Cuddling? Find what your dog likes instead, and give those as rewards for training successes.

You can even teach a dog to like food by giving him food, and then rewarding him with a toy afterwards! He’ll quickly learn that treats are good, because they predict playtime.

Why Should I Use Treats For Dog Training?

Treats make training fun and easy. While it’s totally possible to train dogs without treats, it can be much more difficult. Treats are an easy way to tell your dog, “YES! That’s what I want you to do! Do it again!”

liver dog treatsOnce your dog learns that all he has to do is sit when you say “sit,” and he earns liver, you’re golden.

Treats and hand-feeding dogs are also useful for bonding. Your dog will come to trust you and enjoy working with you if you’re a constant source of good things.

Finally, giving your puppy treats by hand is a good way to teach your puppy bite inhibition. If your puppy is overly zealous when taking a treat, you can teach him how to be more careful.

It’s extremely important that puppies learn how to be careful with their teeth around humans. Giving your puppy regular treats makes that easy to train!

5 Best Dog Treats For Training: Our Favorites

Ready to get training? We’re detailing the best dog treating for training below – these are four-legged fan favorites, so try these out and see how they work for your pooch!

1. Hot Dogs

best dog treats for trainingAbout: My personal choice for best dog training treats are plain old hot dogs. I cut them into teeny, tiny bits – smaller than a penny. They’re soft, stinky, tasty, and cheap.

For dogs with specific diets, I’ll chose turkey franks instead. While they may not be the classiest treat available, their cost and effectiveness makes them hard to beat!

Price: $

Pros: hot dog is cheap, stinky, and soft. It can be cut into any size, and many dogs love it. It’s hard to beat as a cheap option, and it doesn’t need to be cooked like other human meats. Because it’s made for human consumption, ingredients should be safe and filler-free.

Cons: hot dog can be a bit messy in treat pouches, and often isn’t made from environmentally-friendly sources. It can’t be put in pockets, and requires lots of slicing and dicing to be the right size.

2. String Cheese

About: String cheese is another human-food favorite that also works great on dogs! No reason to buy expensive freeze-dried liver for dogs that will go bonkers for string cheese! Like hot dog, it’s soft and can be cut to any size. It’s more transportable but less stinky.

Price: $$

PROS: string cheese is cheap and easily bought in large quantities. It comes in prepackaged bits, so it’s easy to measure how much you’ve used. It’s a tasty option, and you know exactly what the ingredients are.

CONS: many dogs get bad cheese farts, so be careful! String cheese is also less stinky than hot dog, making it less appealing for some dogs. It also must be cut down to size.

3. Rocco & Roxie Gourmet Jerky

Rocco & Roxie Gourmet Jerky Dog Treats Made in USA - Slow Roasted, Delicious, Tender AND Healthy 6' Jerky Sticks Treat - Choose Beef, Chicken or Turkey - 16 oz. Bag … (Beef) About: This healthy, natural Rocco & Roxie Gourmet Jerky is definitely more expensive than hot dogs and string cheese. It’s a lot chewier than other options and must be broken into tiny bits. It comes in several flavors, and doesn’t leave stinky residue.

Price: $$$

PROS: this is a great, healthy, wholesome option. It’s grain-free and doesn’t stink up your hands. It’s relatively soft for jerky, and many dogs love the taste.

CONS: This option is more expensive and will go quickly. It’s not as soft or stinky as hot dog, and it’s difficult to tear into the right sizes for good training.

4. Bil-Jac Liver Dog Treats

(3 Pack) Bil Jac Liver Dog Treats, 20 Ounces Each About: These Bil-Jac Liver Dog Treats, made with chicken liver, are a big hit with dogs. They’re soft enough to be pinched into smaller pieces for training small dogs or puppies, and dogs love the taste.

Price: $$

PROS: these treats are tasty, stinky, small, and soft. They can even be molded to fit into puzzle toys to keep dogs entertained for hours! They’re a pretty reasonable price, and very effective for training. Their main ingredients are chicken liver and chicken.

CONS: Bil-Jac Liver Treats are still a bit more expensive than hot dog, and aren’t quite as stinky. They do contain some chicken by-products, flour, added sugar, and other fillers, so keep this in mind if your dog has dietary restrictions.

5. YumYum Puppy Savory Beef Bites

Dog Treats Savory Beef Bites (8 Ounce), All Natural USDA Inspected Freeze Dried Beef - No Gluten, Grain and Wheat – Dog Training Treats and Pet Supplies About: Want to spoil your dog? Look no further than these Yum Yum Puppy Freeze-Dried Beef Bites. They’re soft, nutritious, and yummy. The price is a bit high for regular training purposes, but keep them around to really show your dog you love him! While they aren’t cheap, each bag contains about 200 treats, so you’re getting a good amount for your dollar.

Price: $$$$

PROS: this company donates a portion of its proceeds to animal shelters, which is a nice added bonus. These treats are all-natural and healthy, soft, and high in protein. They’re made in the US and are a good size for training, though they might have to be torn down for small dogs.

CONS: some owners may find these treats to be too expensive for regular training. However, they’re great to have on hand for those tough, demanding tricks!

What does your dog go bonkers for? Does your dog do backflips for a certain treat? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Last update on 2019-01-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

About the Author Kayla Fratt

Kayla Fratt is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant through the IAABC. She has worked in private dog training, group classes, and shelter behavior modification work for most of her adult life. She now works as an online dog behavior consultant with Journey Dog Training.

follow me on:

Leave a Comment:

1 comment
jim morus says April 9, 2018

Our standard poodle thinks the Bil Jac treats are the best but the store ran out. We tried several that didn’t suit him well, puppy farts were terrible. He is also pretty fond of Purina Moist and Meaty dog food as treats. three varieties, no gas either. One looks like ground meat, inconvenient to carry around. One looks like little cubes of beef he likes them a lot and 6 bucks or so gets you six little bags of them. We recently saw a new variety with what looks like bacon and soft kibble he flips over the bacon like pieces. I can’y say I would use it as food but he loves it as a treat.

Add Your Reply

 join our pup pack!

Get tons of great dog training tutorials, canine gear guides, hot news about the latest doggy discounts, & more - all delivered to your inbox!


By signing up you agree to our terms