I am going to help you pick out healthy treats for training your dog and how to use treats effectively for both their benefit and yours.

Should you use food treats or not?

Some people have said that using food treats is deceptive and that the dog will get the wrong idea. However, most would agree with me in that this is, indeed, the best form of reward your dog will recognize in the beginning. Of course, there are slight precautions to take when using food as a reward and I will explain that further on. Your dog will recognize several forms of reward for a job or task well done. These can be anything from a pat or scratch on the head, a brisk but gentle hug to a quick game of fetch. These rewards will help form that special bond between you and your dog. I feel though that food treats will get a greater response and help your dog accomplish the tasks much faster.

Food treats – store bought or household?

Household treats can be anything from carrots, cut up hot dog, small pieces of cooked chicken to pieces of ham or even cheese cubes. Store bought treats vary so greatly from regular dog biscuits, in many flavors, to branded treats from Nutrish and Blue Buffalo and many others out there. Both will work just fine.

Bribery versus reward – how to use treats

Bribery is when you let the dog know beforehand that you have a treat for him. Sure, he may perform the command, but only to get what he knows you have, the treat, and not for the command itself. He will only obey the command because he sees the treat. Now, by keeping the treats in a pocket or fanny pouch, he doesn’t know right off that there is a reward for performing the command. It will be harder to train them for the command by showing them the treat first because all he wants is the treat. If you don’t show it to them prior, they will, more likely, learn the command for what it is rather than for the treat. It will also be harder to wean them off the treats, which you will eventually want to do. Let’s say you want to use playing fetch with his favorite toy as a reward during the training session, you do not want to play too long or it will be harder to get his mind back on training. You can alternate the treats with the games as reward if you want. This will also help, in that, his treats should not exceed ten percent of his daily food intake or he will have a weight issue later on. This is another reason why you will eventually want to wean him off the treats as well.

Size of the treat – Does it matter?

It really does matter and here is why. You will want to use smaller treats because not only will the dog get the taste, but also chew it and swallow it faster. This also makes the digestion easier too. You will notice that if you use store bought training treats, they come in small chunks. The same holds true if you use household food for the treats, the meats should be cut into smaller pieces and, if you use veggies or even pieces of fruit, they should also be small and quick to chew. You can use string beans, broccoli florets or baby carrots. It should follow naturally, that the smaller the dog or breed, the smaller the pieces. Also, make sure they have plenty of water as this will not only aid in the digestion, but your dog will surely want it after a good session and workout.


Hopefully, here, I have given you some information on some healthy treats and other ways to reward your dog during training periods. These will work especially well as a puppy, when his brain is still developing, but also as an adult dog as well. Yes, an adult dog is not completely out of the picture or realm of training. I have helped to train an adult German shepherd using these techniques with great success. Make sure his treats are healthy and used to reward, not bribe, and you will end up with a very obedient and appreciative pooch. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to submit them.

12 Replies to “Healthy dog training treats-how to use them effectively”

  1. Very interesting website. I haven’t seen too many on Pets and especially dogs.

    Reading your about me page, its pretty clear you are fairly passionate about Dogs.

    I see you had a dog, but now have a cat, what sort do you have

    You certainly seem to know your stuff, do you get your info from newsletters or from other pet sites you may visit.

    I had a bad experience with a labrador once, which makes me wary of dogs, so we have a cat instead

    But overall, you seem to know your subject area, pretty well and it made enjoyable reading

    1. Well, thank you Dave. Surprised to see someone I know. Yes, I am passionate about all animals, but dogs in particular, since I don’t have mine any more. Now that we have a house of our own, I plan on getting another one to raise and train properly as I did with my first. I get some knowledge from other sites and some outside research, especially the two articles on cancer and epilepsy. My dog had to be put down due to epilepsy. The others are mainly from first hand experience and a vet I know. The cat is your basic domestic short hair tabby. I’m sorry to hear about your experience with the Lab. Thank you for commenting. It means a lot coming from you!

  2. Wow! This is na amazing technique that you have got here. Brirbery is very much different from a reward base system. I like this and will definitely give it a try. This technique you offered has also been used by organization as means of getting the most out of their employees, reward systems tend to activate some level of deligence to service. 

    1. Thank you so much for your comments on this article and hope you might enjoy some of my others as well. I truly believe this reward vs bribery does work very well. I have to laugh, but you’re right, some companies employ this very same technique with their employees. Thanks again for your comments.

  3. hello Joseph,

     this is quite an amazing review you’ve got here on dog training treats and how to effectively use them, being a pet owner I have indeed look for several ways to persuade my dog into doing certain things and to also reward him when he does them.. stumbling upon this article of yours is indeed a lifesaver for me thanks for giving such information on some healthy treats and other ways to reward your dog during training periods..

    thanks for sharing, I look forward to share it on my blog

    1. Thanks for your comments on this article, really appreciate them. You say you stumbled on this article, where did you see it, if I may ask. I have first hand knowledge on two different breeds of dogs and their training. I’m so glad you found this article helpful and hope you would enjoy some of my other articles as well. Thank you again so much!

  4. Hey nice article you have there, your thoughts are indeed invaluable. Some dogs will work for praise if they find it rewarding enough. Others will work for play if they find it rewarding enough. Almost all dogs however will work food. Food taps into a primal need and instinctive desire. So food is possibly the best reward to give to your dog for a job well done, though you should always mix it with praise and play too 

    1. Thank you so much for your comments on this article. I really appreciate them. As I mentioned, you could mix treats with general praise and play as well so as not to get your dog used to just treats and may learn the commands even better and obey them without being rewarded, which is what you ultimately want. Thanks again so much for your comments. You may want to check some of my other articles as well.

  5. Great article on healthy dog training treats! I like all the treats you have suggested but my dog gets sick from dairy. I had to find her a special treat so she eats carrots, sardines or dehydrated fish. Thanks for sharing such valuable information.

    1. Have you tried the hot dog bites or chicken along with the veggies? I found they worked very well for me in the training of the German Shepard I mentioned.

  6. Joseph,

    I’ve always used treats to train my dogs, through the years. Some might say they disagree with treats, but I don’t believe that punishment is an option when it comes to training. I’ve seen a lot of dog trainers use whistles, or harsh commands, which in turn just make the dog think they’re in trouble versus the opposite. Dogs want to please us any way they can, so giving them a command and following it with a treat tells them they did a good job. After extensive use of this back and forth, they eventually want to do the command in the hopes they get a reward.

    But yes, you are right that eventually you do want to ween them off the treats. Simply giving them a command should have them listening after extensive training.

    Thanks for sharing this information!


    1. Hi Katrina, yes, I agree that they should be slowly weened off them as you say. The command should be enough if they were trained well enough. Then I would give them just as a treat and not a reward for anything. Also, given at different times of the day so they don’t expect them, or even the same time, like when you get home from work to show them you missed them all day. As always thank you so much for commenting and sorry for my delayed response 🙁

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