What are the Healthiest and Best Training Treats for Dogs?

When it comes to training your dog, choosing the right treat to motivate your pet can be the key to success.

However, with so many different training treats on the market, it can be challenging to pick the best one for your dog.

a German Shepherd Border Collie reaching for treats
A cute German Shepherd Border Collie mix dog is jumping up for a biscuit.

Keep reading to discover more about the best dog training treats depending on your pet’s life stage and get your questions about training treats answered.

Top 5 Picks for Best Training Treats for Dogs in 2021

  Training Treats for Dogs Our Rating
Best Overall Training Treats for Dogs Natural Balance Mini Rewards

  • Chicken is the main ingredient 
  • Contain less than 5 calories per treat
  • Easy to chew and can be broken into small pieces for little pets
4.5
Best Budget Training Treats for Dogs Bil-Jac Dog Treats (Chicken Liver)

  • Super soft and tasty chews made from real chicken and chicken liver
  • Can be easily pinched into smaller bits for puppies or small dogs
  • Packaged in a double-zipper, resealable convenient pouch
4.5
 

Best Training Treats for Puppies

Wellness Soft Puppy Bites (Lamb and Salmon) 

  • Made from high-quality lamb and salmon 
  • Specifically formulated for dogs under one year old
  • Contains a natural source of DHA and Omega 3
4.5
Best Training Treats for Adult Dogs Natural Balance Mini Rewards

  • Chicken is the main ingredient 
  • Has less than 5 calories per treat
  • Easy to chew and can be broken into smaller pieces for little pets
4.5
 

Best Training Treats for Senior Dogs

Wellness CORE Marrow Roasts Hearty Beef Recipe Dog Treats 

  • Tantalizing biscuits boast a soft marrow center 
  • All-natural recipe free from wheat, wheat gluten, corn, soy, artificial colors, and flavors
  • Packed with vitamins and minerals, calcium, iron, and zinc
4.5

Best Training Treats for Dogs by Life Stage

Dog treats come in all shapes and sizes and serve different purposes. Some treats are specifically for distracting dogs, others are used for pets who chew or lick, and some help keep your dog’s teeth clean. 

Below we’ll take a closer look at some of the best training treats for dogs, whether you’re trying to teach your new pup to go potty or attempting to get an old boy to learn some new tricks.

Best Training Treats for Puppies

a Pomeranian looking up standing near a packet of treats
Meet Nala, a fluffy Pomeranian asking for treats – Image source

Congratulations on your new puppy! Your first dog training session can be exciting and challenging.

While your puppy may adore you, he won’t necessarily just do everything you ask him to. However, with the proper tasty puppy training treats, training your pup will be a breeze!

1. Wellness Soft Puppy Bites (Lamb and Salmon) 

Wellness Soft Puppy Bites Lamb & Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Dog Treats

Our rating: 5
Top ingredients: Lamb, Salmon, Chickpeas
Type: Chews

Soft and chewy all-natural dog treats made from a high-quality grain-free lamb and salmon recipe.

Made in the USA and specifically formulated for dogs under 1 year old, these treats combine pure meat protein with a wholesome blend of fruits and vegetables.

They’re suitable for daily training and teething dogs.

Pros:

  • Contains a natural source of DHA and Omega 3 for cognitive development
  • Made with no meat by-products, corn, wheat, dairy, artificial colors, and flavors

Cons:

  • Some pups simply wouldn’t try these treats

CHECK PRICE HERE

2. Zuke’s Mini Naturals (Chicken) 

Zuke's Mini Naturals Chicken Recipe Training Dog Treats

Our rating: 5
Top ingredients: Chicken, Rice, Barley
Type: Treats

Small-sized chicken flavor chewy treats made in the USA from all-natural ingredients.

Offering your pet less than three calories per treat, these treats come in another five exciting flavors and can be purchased in either a six or 16-ounce bag. 

Pros:

  • Corn-, soy-, and wheat-free
  • Have a strong, enticing scent, ideal for training purposes

Cons:

  • Moist treats that need to be stored with care to prevent drying out

CHECK PRICE HERE

Discover some more of our best dog treats for training puppies here.

Best Training Treats for Adult Dogs

a Golden Retriever looking at his treat
Meet Moose, a patient Golden Retriever wanting the tasty treat – Image source

Dog training can take over your life if you try to weed out destructive behaviors that have already become established into adulthood.

However, the right treats will help keep your dog motivated and develop good habits. 

1. Stewart Pro-Treat Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Treats

Stewart Pro-Treat Beef Liver Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Treats

Our rating: 4.5
Top ingredients: 100% Pure Beef Liver
Type: Freeze-Dried, Treats

It is said that this dog treat is preferred by dog trainers for over 40 years!

Suitable for all breed sizes, this raw and freeze-dried snack packs a wholesome nutritional value, especially for dogs who prefer high-protein and low-fat kibble toppings.

Pros:

  • Recommended for dogs with food sensitivities since it’s a single-ingredient treat
  • Retained its nutrition, flavor, and enticing aroma because of the freeze-drying process
  • Made without gluten, grains, preservatives, and additives in a USDA inspection facility

Cons:

  • Some dogs aren’t excited about these treats
  • A few owners are complaining about huge chunks

CHECK PRICE HERE

2. Fruitables Skinny Minis

Fruitables Skinny Minis Apple Bacon Flavor Soft & Chewy Dog Treats

Our rating: 4.5
Top ingredients: Sweet Potato, Vegetable Glycerin, Chickpeas
Type: Treats

Low-calorie dog treats with a bacon flavor that’s sure to appeal to your dog’s senses.

Made from wholesome fruits and vegetables, these treats are available in a variety of forms, including jerky, chews, and crunchy bits, to suit your dog’s tastes.

Pros:

  • Contains natural antioxidants, vitamins, and dietary fiber for overall health
  • Baked in a certified organic facility in the USA, these treats contain no gluten, wheat, corn, soy, or artificial flavors or colors

Cons:

  • Some pups turned their noses up at these treats

CHECK PRICE HERE

3. Natural Balance Mini Rewards

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Mini-Rewards Chicken Formula Dog Treats

Our rating: 4.5
Top ingredients: Chicken, Brown Rice Flour, Dried Potatoes
Type: Treats

Chews that feature chicken as the main ingredient and contain less than five calories per treat, this product from Natural Balance is an excellent choice for pets of all life stages.

Produced in the USA, these treats are easy to chew and broken into smaller pieces for tiny pets.

Pros:

  • Made with high-quality proteins and limited ingredients for dogs with dietary concerns
  • Contains no fillers, corn, wheat, soy, or artificial flavors or colors

Cons:

  • Some dog owners complained the treats were too big for training purposes

CHECK PRICE HERE

4. Bil-Jac Dog Treats

Bil-Jac Original Recipe with Liver Soft Dog Treats

Our rating: 5
Top ingredients: Chicken Liver, Chicken, Chicken Meal
Type: Treats

Super soft and tasty gluten-free chews made from real chicken and chicken liver, offering your pup irresistible flavor.

These high-protein treats are ideally sized for all breed sizes, even large dogs! It can be easily pinched into smaller bits for puppies or molded into puzzle toys and require no refrigeration.

Pros:

  • These treats come packaged in a double-zipper, resealable convenient pouch
  • Made in the USA and free from gluten, rendered fat, peas, and soy

Cons:

  • The ingredient list contains chicken by-products, sugars, and fillers

CHECK PRICE HERE

5. Rocco & Roxie Gourmet Jerky

Rocco & Roxie Supply Co. Gourmet Beef Jerky Dog Sticks

Our rating: 5
Top ingredients: American-raised Beef, Rice Protein, Spices
Type: Jerky

Stinky and chewy jerky-style treat that doesn’t leave a greasy residue but does keep your pet coming back for more.

Made in the USA with no artificial flavors or fillers like corn, soy, and gluten, this product comes with a manufacturer’s 100% satisfaction guarantee.

Pros:

  • A single stick can last for some time by being broken up into smaller pieces
  • The first ingredient is slow-smoked beef that offers a delicious smoky flavor to these treats

Cons:

  • May need to be pre-prepared beforehand to the right size for your pet

CHECK PRICE HERE

6. Blue Buffalo Blue Bits Tasty Chicken Recipe Soft-Most Training Dog Treats

Blue Buffalo Blue Bits Tasty Chicken Recipe Soft-Moist Training Dog Treats

Our rating: 5
Top ingredients: Chicken, Oatmeal, Brown Rice
Type: Treats

Blue Buffalo made a doggy snack that’s optimally sized and nutritious for your pooch. Each morsel is packed with high-quality chicken without any by-product meals.

For a healthy coat and skin, this treat has Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, as well as DHA for cognitive development.

Pros:

  • Contains wholesome fibers like flaxseed for healthy digestion
  • 100% free of artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, soy, wheat, and corn
  • Suitable for all breed sizes

Cons:

  • A few dog owners said their dogs didn’t like this treat

CHECK PRICE HERE

Best Training Treats for Senior Dogs

a charming Border Collie smiling
Meet Patsy, a sweet Senior Border Collie – Image source

Senior dogs need treats that are easy to chew, taste good, are gentle on the digestive system, and healthy too!

1. Wellness CORE Marrow Roasts Hearty Beef Recipe Dog Treats 

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Marrow Roasts Hearty Beef Recipe Dog Treats

Our rating: 4.5
Top ingredients: Beef, Ground Peas, Vegetable Glycerin
Type: Biscuits

Soft, savory, grain-free training treats also provide an additional source of nutrition to senior dogs.

These tantalizing dog biscuits boast a soft marrow center and an all-natural recipe free from wheat, wheat gluten, corn, soy, artificial colors, and flavors.

Pros:

  • Packed with vitamins A, minerals, calcium, iron, and zinc for optimum health
  • Made from natural beef with no by-products
  • Only has 11 calories per treat

Cons:

  • Some pet owners complained these treats were too dry and hard

CHECK PRICE HERE

2. Milo’s Kitchen Beef Sausage Slices with Rice Dog Treats

Milo's Kitchen Beef Sausage Slices with Rice Dog Treats

Our rating: 5
Top ingredients: Beef, Soy Grits, Sugar
Type: Chews

USDA-approved dog training treats come in 8 different flavors, with the beef version made to look and taste like miniature sausage slices.

Pros:

  • Made from 100% natural ingredients with no artificial flavors or colors
  • Chicken-free, pea-free, and rawhide-free
  • Can be broken apart for smaller breeds

Cons:

  • Some pet owners said their dogs had stomach problems on these treats
  • Sugar is the third ingredient

CHECK PRICE HERE

Should you use treats to train your dog?

a Cocker Spaniel giving the smirk while sitting on the grass
Meet Rusty, an active Cocker Spaniel on training – Image source

Treats can make dog training fun and easy. They’re a great way to affirm your dog so they know what behaviors to do again.

Treats are also an excellent tool for bonding with your pet, as hand-feeding helps to establish trust.

Aside from promoting good behavior, treats also help teach puppies bite inhibition as they learn how to take treats carefully and how to use their teeth around people.

Why your dog training method matters

In the past, many people relied on negative reinforcement methods to train their dogs. However, they leave behind emotional and physical scars.

Nowadays, positive reinforcement training is the preferred method for training pets, with owners using the promise of play, praise, and treats for affirming desired behaviors.

It has been found that through positive reinforcement, behaviors can be reinforced without any damage to the psyche of the pet or owner.

Treats, of course, being one of the best and easiest ways to reward your pet during training!

Buyer’s Guide: Finding Training Treats Your Dog Will Adore

As you’ll be giving dog treats regularly, look for products that feature high-quality and human-grade ingredients that won’t fill your dog up too much.

a chocolate Poodle licking and wearing teal scarf
Meet Lady, a Poodle waiting for the heart-shaped treat – Image source

Dog Nutrition 101: What kind of training treats does your dog need?

The ingredient list is the main thing you need to look at when selecting the best treat for your pup.

The first ingredient should always be real meat, like beef, poultry, lamb, fish, or another protein-rich source such as peanut butter.

Wholesome fruits and vegetables should also form part of the recipe.

You’ll want to avoid treats that feature heavy grains and filler ingredients like corn or rice that provide little nutritional value.

Also, avoid any chemical-sounding ingredients, by-products, meals, additives, or other potential allergens.

Be sure to consider the number of calories as well. Your dog’s daily treats should make up no more than 10% of your pet’s daily calorie intake.

Consider reducing your dog’s meals to balance out those extra calories they’ll be consuming.

Things to look for when selecting dog training treats: What should dogs have?

When choosing the right treat for your dog, the first thing to look at is the size. Smaller treats are better as you don’t want your dog to gain weight, fill up, or even get sick.

Bigger treats should be able to be broken down into small size chunks or bite-sized morsels. You want your dog to be excited to train but still in shape.

Treats that are too big, too crunchy, or difficult to eat will also slow your dog down during training. Thus opt for soft treats that can be easily swallowed.

You also want your dog’s treats to be easy to store and nonperishable. They should also be portable and easy to carry around in your pocket or a treat pouch or treat bag.

To ensure the quality of ingredients, look for treats made in the USA and are inspected by the USDA. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

a Maltese looking at yellow treat
Meet Louis, a groomed Maltese awaiting his treat – Image source

How can you figure out what treats your dog likes?

Offering your dog up several different treats will help keep him addicted to training.

Not knowing what treat is coming next keeps your pup interested and means that he won’t get bored of a particular treat.

This way, you can use different treats to keep your dog’s focus, avoid distractions, train new behaviors, and better manage your pup’s calorie intake.

You may have heard someone in training classes referring to treats being of low, medium, and high value. This is the value your dog places in the specific treat.

High-value treats are ones your dog loves and are made from extra smelly and deliciously meaty ingredients your pup doesn’t get very often. 

High-value treats are best used when introducing new behaviors.

When you want to keep your pup focused in highly distracting environments, during socialization, for rewarding quick reactions, or when working to counter anxiety, fear, or aggression.

Medium value treats are used more frequently but still contain ingredients that aren’t typically included in your dog’s daily diet, such as peanut butter.

These treats can be given in mildly distracting environments and are best used when maintaining behaviors that have already been learned.

Finally, low-value treats are dry and crunchy and can even be your dog’s regular kibble. These treats are often used when you are trying to fade treats out of training.

What are some human foods that work great for dog training?

Avoid any ingredients that are high in fat and very rich, such as bacon. You don’t want to upset your puppy’s stomach or, worse, lead to developing a disease such as pancreatitis. 

Here are some of the best human foods for dog training:

  1. Cooked lean meat like bits of chicken breast or turkey
  2. String cheese is easily transportable and can be cut into any size.
  3. Your dog’s daily kibble, which is an excellent low-value snack
  4. Peanut butter
  5. Apple slices
  6. Fresh veggies like pumpkin
  7. Hot dogs cut into teeny, tiny bits. They’re soft, tasty, and cheap

What should you do if your dog is not motivated by treats?

Rewards can be anything that helps keep your pet motivated. Treats can be replaced by words of praise, a scratch behind the ear, or throw of the frisbee, or a few seconds with a favorite dog toy.

Find out what keeps your pet motivated other than food, and use this as a training reward! 

Talk to your vet before choosing any new training treat for your dog

a Poochon puppy interested for her cube meat
Meet Nellie, a fluffy Poochon ready for her training treat – Image source

Before you add anything new to your dog’s diet, it is always advisable to chat with your vet. Your vet will be best placed to advise on the best treat for your dog’s health, age, and lifestyle.

While we’ve covered some of our favorite treats above, there are lots more on the market, including some made by well-known dog food brands like Merrick, Pet Botanics, and Blue Buffalo. 

Do you have a favorite training treat? Let us know what works for you and your dog in the comments below!

Further Reading: The best treats for dogs with health issues

  • Best Hypoallergenic Dog Treats
  • Best Treats for Diabetic Dogs
  • Best Dog Treats for Sensitive Stomach
  • Best Calming Treats for Dogs
  • Best Dog Treats for Bad Breath

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