Everybody likes a treat, be they dog, cat, or human. But, unlike humans who will eventually learn to speak a language and will need decades of schooling for the chance to become functioning adults, dogs only need some patience and doggy treats so that you can tell them when they are doing good and when they are not.
Treats are not just common food for pets but should be an exceptionally tasty and enjoyable treat that they will smell from afar and would be willing to listen to get. Learning about right and wrong, as well as the concept of delayed gratification, is necessary for the life in any community, and is the reason why you need to make your dog obey commands and wait patiently for the treat. Thankfully, finding the best dog training treats is much easier with the internet, as you will be able to match the treats to your dog’s specific needs.
Similar to when picking out the best dog food for your furry friend, there are multiple factors to consider with treats. Some of the issues depend on your dog, but others depend on your own situation, feelings, as well as training style.
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Best Dog Training Treats on the Market Today
Although the list of good treats is somewhat extensive, and if your dog has very specific dietary needs you should consult your vet if there are some niche options that you need to use, there are only a few that could be called the best treats for training your dog. For this short review, we have separated what is considered to be the best, from the one that is also focused on your budget, as well as the best one if you have a very young puppy.
What are Dog Treats?
Dog treats can be considered dog food, but they are not just any old kibble to put in your dog’s bowl. Treats are specifically designed to have a richness of texture and flavor for the dog, making them the canine equivalent of soul food. And this is a good comparison to remember as nobody is supposed to make soul food their primary source of nutrition. Treats should be a reward for a job well done.
Making the best dog treats for training is slightly tricky as the manufacturer needs to be careful to make the treat both healthy and enticing for the canine. The old joke that the best things in life are either illegal, immoral or make you fat is pretty accurate in this case as well, as giving too many treats can lead to obesity and many other medical problems. Best dog training treats are usually filled with nice and juicy protein that will make your dog love them but will contain vitamins and minerals as well. Still, even for the best of the best, make sure to use them sparingly. Proper use of doggy treats will make your dog much more willing to obey orders, making it easier for you to train in the long term.
Why are Dog Treats Used?
Dog treats are used as a training method where you will reward your canine companion every time they obey a command or do the task you want. This is done using Pavlovian conditioning, where you use a strong biological stimulus to teach a response. In this case, you are using food, and quite tasty food, letting the dog make a connection between doing the trick and eating the treat.
Current behavioral research, as well as pet training experience, has shown that using a treat is much more beneficial than punishing the animal. Any physical punishment can only breed resentment, and you should use it as rare as possible, and preferably never. Making your dog connect doing good with a reward will also make it more responsive to your other commands or general mood, making it easier to train. Any physical punishment will make the dog connect you and pain, making it afraid. And, as we know, fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering.
Techniques for Training with Treats
Every pet owner who wishes to become a dog trainer should do a great deal of introspection. Before you are able to teach your dog how it should react to situations, you must know how you will act and if your psychology is more focused on assertiveness and dominance or on love and affection. This is not a fixed state, but a spectrum, and you should always have a general idea where you yourself fall on this spectrum.
Once you know what you are, you can act. If you are naturally dominant, your dog will sense that and try to fit in. In the case that you are both assertive and aggressive, you should use these character traits to teach your dog obedience. Short leash with upwards restrictions and treats only at the end of the training.
Being an alpha dog doesn’t mean being cruel, and actual cruelty will come back to bite you quite literally, but means that you should be strict and fair with your dog.
This is the polar opposite from the first one, and it is made for people who will feel chest pains every time their little furry friend begs for food with their watery puppy eyes. This training technique is usually for people who have suffered a lot of stress, so don’t be stunned by the fact that army veterans and convicted felons typically fall into this category. When doing this, play with your dog as much as you can, pet them for every progress and give them a treat every time they do a good job. Quite quickly you will see that the dog will respond even without treats, as they will do it out of sheer love and devotion.
The leader of the Pack
Last but not least, this method is a mixture of the previous two and is a perfect option when it comes to working dogs that are also pets. To be the leader of the pack, you will need to work hard and play hard. When you are training, be strict and demand obedience, and when you finish, you can shower your dog with praise and cuddles. This change in attitude will teach the dog that when you are serious that they need to obey, but they will still love you and be devoted to you.
Training Treats vs. Praise
Both threats and praise have a valuable spot when training your dog, but you should always remember to rank your rewards so not to confuse the dog about what they are doing. When starting the training, use treats often and usually in conjunction with praise and petting. Once your dog has learned the command and does it without you needing to repeat yourself, start phasing out the treats and focusing on the kindness.
You should never exclude tasty morsels entirely and should carry a few every time you go for a walk, but your dog should be able and willing to obey your commands even when you don’t have any and are willing to give only praise.
Best Homemade Dog Treats for Training
While you are waiting for your shipment of doggie treats to arrive, it is possible to make some tasty treats for your dog at home. Although most unprocessed human food is not good for the dog, we humans also eat highly processed meat, in the form of hot dogs.
You can train your room temperature dog by slicing hot dogs into rings and frying them in a pan for a few minutes. Just make sure for the meat to cool down first as your dog will burn itself trying to eat the treat. Finally, this is the perfect way to honestly proclaim your toy poodle a vicious cannibal, be that as it may, a fault of the human naming committee.
Tips on How to Pick out the Best Treats
Not only will your dog grow in size and advance in age as the time passes, but we are pet owners should never become complacent and stop demanding high quality and good standards from the market. Because of this, we should always know how to select the best product on the market and what may be our criteria in the future. For this, we should look to ourselves, and more importantly to our dogs. If they really like some sort of treat, then that treat will always be the right one for them, provided that it is generally up to the health standards. Finally, your veterinarian should always know what sort of treats you are using and should be active in the discussion about what might be your next best doggy treat on the market.
What Ingredients are should You Look for?
Selecting good dog treats has a similar process to choosing good dog food, as you are looking for high-quality protein, fatty acids, and essential oils, some vitamins and minerals, and maybe a pinch of dietary fiber from a fruit or vegetable that is not high in carbs or saturated sugars. The only difference between treats and regular food is that they need to have an extra something that will make the food more exciting than the regular kibble they eat on the daily. Be that wild chicken or bacon, or some other tasty addition; the treats need to smell good. And if they smell good to you, you can imagine how good they smell to the dog’s evolved sense of smell.
Size, Breed, and Age
While every dog is different, and there will always be genetic and environmental factors that will influence what type of dog treats or dog food you should use, there are some general rules to abide by when looking for the best dog treats and what should they have on the inside. Bigger dogs will need more food, but this doesn’t scale directly with their weight.
Further, older breeds of dogs like malamutes, huskies, and German shepherds will need more meat concentration than newer breeds as are most show dogs and will be more susceptible to allergies.
Finally, older dogs need much less protein, and food in general, than younger dogs. A common misconception is that they will need more dietary fiber, but that is opposite of the truth. A bit of fiber is good for all dogs, but too much might stop the intake of magnesium and other vitamins and minerals, making this ingredient detrimental.
Dogs can be allergic in the same way humans are, and if you wish to prevent these allergies, you will need to observe your dog and report any issues to the vet as soon as you notice them. If you find out that your dog is allergic to a certain ingredient or a specific animal protein, you will want to exclude this protein from the dog’s diet and to substitute it with another.
Proteins that your dog is used to are often called common proteins, and the ones your dog is not used to are called novel proteins, but always take into consideration that this could mean different things to different dogs.
Using as Supplements
Some dog owners consider using treats as a way to supplement the nutrition of the dog with vitamins, minerals and other beneficial nutrients, and while this sounds good on paper, it is very bad in practice. The dog should get their complete dietary needs from their regular dog good. While treats do have these components, it is negligible compared to the number of calories in the product, meaning that you might end up making your dog obese, or straining their kidneys.
There are plenty dog treats on the market, but those that can be considered the best dog training treats are few and often change. All dog trainers should be aware of the needs and proclivities of their dog, as well as their goal as a trainer. Regardless of your training style, psychology, or attitude, you will need dog treats to create positive reinforcement and to make your dog obey your orders all the time, and not only when you are calling them for cuddles and belly rubs.