What’s in a Training Treat? Why Treat Type Matters
Updated: Jan 6
Most people know to use a training treat when teaching their dog a new trick, but do you know which type is best? Not every dog will like every treat, so knowing what works best for you will help ensure a successful experience. There are several varieties available, including soft and chewy treats, crunchy treats, and longer-term chews. Read on to see which type is best for you and your dog’s needs.
Uses for Training Treats
While treats are useful for more than just training, they are most commonly used during training sessions. You can use different treats to reward your dog for behaving calmly, as a way to enrich their environment, or to keep them busy. Treats come into three general types: Soft and chewy, crunchy, and long-term.
Soft and Chewy
A Soft and chewy training treat encompasses several types. Examples include soft chews, freeze-dried liver, and other easy to break apart items. Hot dogs and pieces of boiled chicken are also considered soft and chewy treats.
Good for: Soft and chewy treats are great for regular training sessions. They are easily eaten by your dog so you can give several training commands without having to wait a long period of time in between. They are also easily pulled apart into tiny morsels so your dog isn’t too full by the end of training, and you can control the portion size when giving them.
Bad for: While great for quick snacks during training, these treats aren’t great for long-term distractions. These treats can also go bad or smelly if left in a chew toy or if they get damp.
Crunchy treats, such as Milk Bones or other biscuits that snap apart or crumble are a good regular treat to give. If you can break them small enough, they can also be an easy to give training treat.
Good for: These treats are excellent for giving as a snack or just as a general reward. Since they are more shelf-stable, these treats are also great to stuff into a Kong or other chew toy. This gives your dog a challenge and keeps their brain active with an enriching activity.
Bad for: While these treats can be used in training, they can be harder to break up into smaller to give pieces and can leave behind a lot of crumbs in your pockets. However, if you need something that is more shelf stable while working in a hot environment or outdoors for a long period of time, they may be a better option.
Long-term chews, such as Greenies, Nylabone, and other edible chews are great for enrichment and distraction. They’re a useful reward to give after a training session, or when working on your dog being calm and quiet for a period of time.
Good for: These treats are excellent to give under supervision when you want to keep your dog occupied for a while. They are also great when stuffed into a Kong or other chew toy for an added challenge post-training.
Bad for: These aren’t great treats for training since they take so long to eat! They can also be messy and break into pieces or crumbs, or can fill your dog up in between meals. You want to use them as an in-between treat, rather than during your training session.
Now that you know the various types of treats on the market, try out a few varieties to see what your dog likes best. You should have on hand a few of each type for use as a training treat, as well as some to give as rewards during and after training. Your dog will be sure to wag his tail after getting one!