Dogs

Best Dog Treats For Puppy Training

May 4, 2022

Best Dog Treats For Puppy Training

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The first few days with your new puppy are often spent cuddling on the couch and getting to know his personality. Once the initial excitement has faded, however, it’s time to get down to business.

Training and socialization are two of the most important jobs you have as a dog owner.

Without proper training, you won’t be able to control your dog and that lack of control could put both of you at risk. A well-socialized dog gets along well with people and other dogs and has the ability to adapt in unfamiliar situations.

Experts agree that the most effective training method for puppies is positive reinforcement. With a few tasty treats in hand, you can teach your dog to do just about anything.

In this guide, we’ll explain the basics of positive reinforcement training and teach you what to look for in training treats. We’ll also provide recommendations for the best dog treats for puppy training.

Compare Best Dog Treats For Puppy Training

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

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

Best Value
Shameless Pets Lobster Roll(Over) Soft Baked Dog Treats

2. Shameless Pets Lobster Roll(Over) Soft Baked Dog Treats

Premium Pick
Ziwi Good Dog Rewards Air-Dried Beef Dog Treats

3. Ziwi Good Dog Rewards Air-Dried Beef Dog Treats

Best Jerky Treats
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Trail Treats Chicken Jerky Treats

4. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Trail Treats Chicken Jerky Treats

Best Crunchy Treats
Cloud Star Crunchy Tricky Trainers Cheddar Flavor Dog Treats

5. Cloud Star Crunchy Tricky Trainers Cheddar Flavor Dog Treats

Best For Sensitive Stomach
Zuke’s Mini Naturals Peanut Butter & Oats Recipe Training Treats

6. Zuke’s Mini Naturals Peanut Butter & Oats Recipe Training Treats

Type
Soft
Type
Soft
Type
Air-dried
Type
Jerky
Type
Crunchy
Type
Chewy
Flavor
Lamb
Flavor
Lobster
Flavor
Beef
Flavor
Chicken
Flavor
Cheddar
Flavor
Peanut butter
Top 3 Ingredients
Lamb, salmon, chickpeas
Top 3 Ingredients
Sunflower meal, lobster, potato
Top 3 Ingredients
Beef, beef heart, beef kidney
Top 3 Ingredients
Chicken, sugar, salt
Top 3 Ingredients
Dried cheddar cheese, pearled parley, oat flour
Top 3 Ingredients
Peanut butter, barley, rice
Calories Per Treat
4 kcal
Calories Per Treat
20 kcal
Calories Per Treat
5.2 kcal
Calories Per Treat
Variable
Calories Per Treat
2.5 kcal
Calories Per Treat
2 kcal

Before we get into the details of our recommendations, let’s take a closer look at the subject of puppy training and what kind of treats are the best option.

Intro To Positive Reinforcement Training

Think about the chore you hate the most. You put off doing it for as long as possible but, if someone offered you a reward for doing it, would you take it? Most likely.

Positive reinforcement is a popular method among dog trainers for one simple reason: it works.

All any dog really wants is your love and attention. Food lands pretty high up on the list too. The way positive reinforcement training works is by using rewards to encourage your dog to repeat a desired behavior. By pairing the reward with a verbal or visual cue (like the word “sit,” for example), your dog learns to associate the cue with the behavior and with the subsequent reward.

An example of positive reinforcement training might go like this:

  1. Kneel on the floor in front of your dog about arm’s length away.
  2. Pinch a training treat between the fingers of your dominant hand.
  3. Place the treat in front of your dog’s nose, but don’t let him take it.
  4. Clearly and firmly say the word “Sit.”
  5. Immediately move the treat forward toward the back of your dog’s head.
  6. As your dog lifts his nose to follow the treat, his bottom should lower to the floor.
  7. Tell your dog “Good” and give him the treat as a reward.
  8. Repeat the sequence several times until your dog gets the hang of it.
  9. Once your dog has learned to pair the command with the behavior, you can start phasing out the food reward, using the praise word instead.

NOTE: If your puppy doesn’t sit immediately, you may need to teach him the behavior in stages. Reward him when his bottom lowers even slightly toward the ground for a few repetitions then try a few with a pause before the reward to help him get the idea.

The tricky thing about positive reinforcement is getting your dog to do what you’re trying to train him to do. Some commands line up well with natural dog behaviors like sitting or lying down – you just have to learn how to lead your dog to perform the behavior until he learns to associate it with the command.

So, once you’ve taught your dog to associate a specific command with a specific behavior, how do you ensure that he keeps doing it? That’s where training dog treats come in.

Choosing The Best Dog Training Treats

The key to success with puppy training is to find a food reward your puppy absolutely can’t resist. You want your dog to really WANT that treat.

For some puppies, dog food works well but other puppies will be more interested in something meaty with a strong aroma. It may be a good idea to choose a treat that contains a different primary protein than your puppy’s primary diet, just to make sure it’s extra appealing for training purposes.

Look for a training treat made with nutritious ingredients like real meat, animal-based fat, and wholesome grains or veggies.

Treats shouldn’t necessarily make up a significant part of your puppy’s diet, but it never hurts to give him a boost of added nutrition from high-quality ingredients. Healthy fats like salmon oil, for example, provide omega-3 fatty acids like DHA which are essential for cognitive development. Animal-based protein is highly nutritious and organ meats are packed with vitamins and minerals.

While healthy ingredients are the priority in puppy training treats, you should also consider the size, calorie content, and texture.

Ideally, training treats should be bite-sized. What qualifies as bite-sized might differ for large versus small dogs, but generally speaking the smaller the treat the better. It should be big enough to capture your dog’s interest but not significant in terms of his total food intake for the day.

Calorie content should be low as well. The best dog training treats fall in the 2 to 5 calorie range per treat. There’s nothing wrong with bigger treats as long as you’re able to break them up into smaller pieces.

In terms of texture, you may need to try a few different treats to find out what your puppy really likes. Many training treats are soft and chewy, making them gentle on puppy teeth, but there are certainly crunchy options out there for the puppies who prefer them.

Now that you have a basic understanding of positive reinforcement training and what makes for an effective training treat, check out our top picks for the best options on the market.

Our Top Picks For The Best Dog Treats For Puppy Training

The following dog treats are top-rated products that have earned a reputation for flavor, quality, and effectiveness.

Overall Best
1.

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

Product Info

  • Type: Soft
  • Flavor: Lamb
  • Top 3 Ingredients: Lamb, salmon, chickpeas
  • Calories Per Treat: 4 kcal

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 15%
Crude Fat: 12%
Crude Fiber: 2%
Moisture: 30%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 21.43%
Fat: 17.14%
Fiber: 2.86%
Carbs: 58.57%
Pros
  • Fresh, protein-rich lamb as the first ingredient
  • Chewy texture easy for puppies to enjoy
  • Contains just 4 kcal per treat but easily broken up
Cons
  • Can become a little crumbly
  • Not ideal for puppies with fish allergies
With over 2,000 reviews on Chewy and twice as many on Amazon, these Wellness puppy training treats are well-loved by dog owners. They offer a soft, chewy texture with rich flavor from lamb and salmon.

These healthy dog treats aren’t just appealing to dogs from a training standpoint – they also promote various aspects of your puppy’s wellness. Packed with antioxidants from sweet potatoes and blueberries, these treats support immune health. Flaxseed provides skin- and coat-supporting omega-3 fatty acids while salmon oil acts as a natural source of DHA to support cognitive development.

Wellness Puppy Bites are square-shaped and contain just 4 calories per treat. Because of their soft texture, however, they’re easy to break into pieces which makes them the perfect low-calorie treats.
Best Value
2.

Shameless Pets Lobster Roll(Over) Soft Baked Dog Treats

Product Info

  • Type: Soft
  • Flavor: Lobster
  • Top 3 Ingredients: Sunflower meal, lobster, potato
  • Calories Per Treat: 20 kcal

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 14%
Crude Fat: 6%
Crude Fiber: 8%
Moisture: 18%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 17.07%
Fat: 7.32%
Fiber: 9.76%
Carbs: 65.85%
Pros
  • Made with a single source of animal protein
  • Sold in 3-pound bags for added value
  • Sustainably sourced and made with upcycled ingredients
Cons
  • Should be broken into pieces for training
Training can take time, even if you work diligently at it. The last thing you want is to run out of treats during a training session and find yourself back at the pet store again. If you’re looking for a high-quality training treat that offers great value and convenience, consider a 3-pound bag from Shameless Pets.

Shameless Pets is a planet-friendly pet product company that uses sustainably sourced ingredients. They also make use of what they call “upcycled” ingredients which are simply misfit and surplus ingredients sourced from North American suppliers. By using these ingredients, Shameless helps reduce food waste.

These Lobster Roll(Over) dog treats are made with lobster as a single source of animal protein and just a handful of other ingredients. They’re packed with protein and flavor, plus they have a strong aroma that’s sure to motivate your dog during training.

This recipe is sold in 3-pound bags, so they’ll last quite a while. The only downside is they are fairly high in calories at 20 calories per treat, but you can easily break them up into smaller pieces.
Premium Pick
3.

Ziwi Good Dog Rewards Air-Dried Beef Dog Treats

Product Info

  • Type: Air-dried
  • Flavor: Beef
  • Top 3 Ingredients: Beef, beef heart, beef kidney
  • Calories Per Treat: 5.2 kcal

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 38%
Crude Fat: 30%
Crude Fiber: 2%
Moisture: 14%
Ash: 12%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 44.19%
Fat: 34.88%
Fiber: 2.33%
Carbs: 4.65%
Pros
  • Rich in species-appropriate animal protein
  • Made with 96% muscle meat, organs, and NZ green mussels
  • Completely free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Higher in fat and calories than other options
Your dog’s nutrition is important, especially when he’s still growing and developing. If you’re willing to spend a little more on a premium dog training reward, these air-dried treats from Ziwi are a great option.

Ziwi Air-Dried dog treats are packed with premium ingredients and formulated to deliver species-appropriate nutrition. With fresh beef as the first ingredient, these treats are loaded with flavor and healthy protein. Numerous beef organs like beef heart and beef liver, plus New Zealand Green Mussels, provide supplemental protein as well as essential nutrients.

These treats are a little higher in calories than some on this list and the fat content is significant. This is likely due to the air-drying process which removes moisture from the raw ingredients.

While these treats are pretty pricey and a little higher in calories than may be appropriate for some puppies, they’re an excellent source of supplemental nutrition.
Best Jerky Treats
4.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Trail Treats Chicken Jerky Treats

Product Info

  • Type: Jerky
  • Flavor: Chicken
  • Top 3 Ingredients: Chicken, sugar, salt
  • Calories Per Treat: Variable

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 50%
Crude Fat: 2%
Crude Fiber: 2%
Moisture: 38%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 80.65%
Fat: 3.23%
Fiber: 3.23%
Carbs: 12.9%
Pros
  • Single source of protein and one main ingredient
  • Very low in fat, moderate calorie content
  • Easy to tear into pieces for training
Cons
  • Calorie content per treat may vary
The key to successful training is finding a high-value treat your puppy absolutely can’t resist. While some puppies are happy to munch on crunchy or chewy treats, they can get old after a while. Jerky, on the other hand, has an appealing taste and texture puppies can’t get enough of.

These chicken jerky treats from Blue Buffalo are packed with species-appropriate animal protein and made with all-natural ingredients. They contain just chicken, sugar, and salt which makes them a single source of protein and highly digestible.

In addition to plenty of protein, these treats are rich in essential fatty acids. They’re completely free from by-product meals and artificial additives as well as fillers like corn, wheat, and soy.

Because the size of these jerky treats varies, it’s hard to say how many calories each treat contains. It’s recommended that you break the jerky into small pieces to make it more appropriate for training.
Best Crunchy Treats
5.

Cloud Star Crunchy Tricky Trainers Cheddar Flavor Dog Treats

Product Info

  • Type: Crunchy
  • Flavor: Cheddar
  • Top 3 Ingredients: Dried cheddar cheese, pearled parley, oat flour
  • Calories Per Treat: 2.5 kcal

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 16%
Crude Fat: 14%
Crude Fiber: 5%
Moisture: 12%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 18.18%
Fat: 15.91%
Fiber: 5.68%
Carbs: 60.23%
Pros
  • Bite-sized and low in calories, 2.5 kcal per treat
  • Crunchy texture appealing to dogs
  • Made with a limited number of ingredients
Cons
  • May not work for dogs with dairy sensitivities
While chewy treats are a popular choice, some puppies prefer a little crunch. These cheddar flavor crunchy treats from Cloud Star are packed with cheesy flavor and come in a small size which makes them perfect for training.

These treats feature dried cheddar cheese as the primary ingredient, supplemented with pearled barley and oat flour. Because they don’t contain common proteins like beef, chicken, and fish, they might be a good choice for puppies with food sensitivities. They do, however, contain dairy which could be an issue for some puppies.

In addition to being bite-sized and crunchy, these treats are very low in calories. With just 2.5 calories per treat, you don’t have to worry about overloading your puppy with calories.
Best For Sensitive Stomach
6.

Zuke’s Mini Naturals Peanut Butter & Oats Recipe Training Treats

Product Info

  • Type: Chewy
  • Flavor: Peanut butter
  • Top 3 Ingredients: Peanut butter, barley, rice
  • Calories Per Treat: 2 kcal

Guaranteed Analysis

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Crude Protein: 5%
Crude Fat: 6%
Crude Fiber: 2%
Moisture: 30%

Dry Matter Basis

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Protein: 7.14%
Fat: 8.57%
Fiber: 2.86%
Carbs: 81.43%
Pros
  • Bite-sized treats perfect for training
  • Free from common allergens like chicken and beef
  • Rich in protein, healthy fats, and fiber
Cons
  • Contains some plant protein concentrate
  • Made with some whey
Easily one of the most popular training treats on the market, Zuke’s Mini Naturals come in several appealing flavors like peanut butter & oats, chicken, and beef as well as more novel flavors like rabbit.

All Zuke’s Mini Naturals recipes contain fewer than 3 calories per treat. They’re perfectly bite-sized and have a chewy texture your puppy will love. These treats are made in the USA with high-quality ingredients and they’re completely free from low-value fillers like corn, wheat, and soy.

Zuke’s Mini Naturals provide a rich source of protein and healthy fats for your growing puppy as well as dietary fiber to support digestion. Because they’re free from common allergens like chicken, beef, and fish, these treats could be a good choice for puppies with sensitive digestion.

It’s worth mentioning that these treats do contain some plant protein concentrate in the form of potato protein and dairy in the form of whey. If your dog is sensitive to dairy or grains like barley, it may be best to choose another option from this list.

Final Thoughts

The best puppy training treats are those that your puppy will enjoy that also support his overall health and nutrition. One puppy may prefer different treats than another, so it’s worth buying a few different kinds to try until you get a feel for your dog’s tastes.

Keep in mind that treats should only make up about 10% of your puppy’s daily caloric intake. Even treats made from high-quality ingredients won’t be nutritionally balanced, so the majority of your dog’s diet should come from an AAFCO-approved puppy food.

If you’re worried about feeding your puppy too many treats, you can always use pieces of his kibble. Throw a mixture of treats and kibble into your treat bag too make sure your puppy gets the nutrients he needs with a few extra tasty bites to keep him engaged.

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Kate Barrington is avid pet lover and adoring owner of three cats and one dog, her love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. She has been writing about pet care and pet products since 2010
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