I get asked all the time from our foster dog adopters, what are the best dog treats for training? I have several go-to brands that I like to recommend. These brands are known for their high-quality, limited ingredient training treats.
Avoid dog treats full of food dye and other ingredients you can’t pronounce. Ever since we learned our dog Ginger has food allergies, I’ve become an ingredient label reader. And let me just say, it’s been an eye-opening experience.
You’d be amazed at some of the ingredients of some dog food brands. I have read all the labels for each of the training treats listed below to help you save time.
Another interesting fact I learned recently, is that any ingredient listed after SALT, is less than 1%. You’d be surprised at how many dog food companies list that they are full of fruits and veggies, yet those ingredients are listed last on the list! I actually try to avoid salt all-together, in my opinion it’s an unnecessary ingredient for our dogs.
Avoid any packaging that says, “chicken flavor” or “bacon flavor”. This is usually a warning sign that it contains NO chicken or bacon. Read the label to be sure before buying.
If the first ingredient is sugar, run far far away and fast. The first ingredient should always be the protein, or fruit in the case of the Fruitables treats.
I feel your frustration… it’s hard to find treats when your dog has food allergies. As I mentioned above, our dog Ginger does have allergies, so we watch everything she eats. Many of the treats I’ve listed below are very limited ingredient, but every dog is allergic to something different. Please read my post: Top 20 Hypoallergenic Treats, Food, and Bones for Dogs with Allergies
Let’s get right into it, here are my top 19 dog treats for training. Most of these brands have several different protein options. So if I listed beef or salmon, just click on the item and you can search for other options.
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My absolute favorite for our dogs. One of the few options that I can feed Ginger and not worry about her allergies. I like the mini’s for agility training, but also use the crunchy treats for occasional training moments.
Crunchy Flavors Available: Pumpkin & Blueberry, Bacon & Apple, Pumpkin & Banana, Pumpkin & Apple, Pumpkin & Cranberry, Sweet Potato and Pecan, Strawberry Yogurt, Vanilla Yogurt, Coconut Yogurt,
Soft Skinny Mini Flavors Available: Pumpkin & Berry, Apple & Bacon, Grilled Bison, Chicken, WatermelonCheck Price
These are literally one ingredient treats. They are easily broken into smaller pieces if desired. They are usually stinky, but that’s good for training!
Proteins Available: Chicken Breast, Beef Liver, Turkey, Salmon, Lamb, Cheddar Cheese, Ocean WhitefishCheck Price
Freeze dried and available in many different unique proteins.
Proteins Available: Minnows, Rabbit, Chicken Hearts, Beef, Duck, Salmon, Beef Tripe, Turkey Giblets, Tripe, Chicken BreastCheck Price
Zuke’s has great natural ingredient dog training treats. I recommend the mini’s because they are small and perfect size for training.
Flavors Available: Peanut butter and oats, Duck, Chicken, Pork, Salmon, RabbitCheck Price
Another great source for freeze-dried treats. While they aren’t one-ingredients, the other items are all healthy for your dog.
Proteins Available: Lamb Liver, Chicken Breast, Lamb Heart, Beef HeartCheck Price
Steward Pro has single ingredient and multi-ingredient freeze-dried dog treat options.
Flavors Available: Beef liver, Chicken liver, Chicken breast, Duck liver, Lamb liver, Turkey liver, Beef with berries and flaxseed, Chicken with berries and flaxseed, Turkey with berries and flaxseed.Check Price
Six ingredients, that’s it. A great option for training treats for your dog!
Proteins Available: Venison, Beef, Chicken, BrushtailCheck Price
Very limited ingredient with an interesting option of the green mussels.
Flavors Available: Green Mussels, Lamb, Beef, ChickenCheck Price
Wellness has a variety of choices when it comes to dog treats. Look for the small soft treats, these work best for training. Stay away from the crunchy or jerky style treats as they take too long to consume while training.
Flavors Available: Lamb & Salmon, Chicken & Carrots, Beef & Turkey, Lamb & Apples, Turkey & Duck, Turkey & Pomegranate, Chicken & Lamb,
Freeze-Dried Options: Salmon, Chicken & Venison, Turkey, Chicken & Lamb, Beef, BoarCheck Price
Merrick isn’t at the top of my list, but they are still a pretty good option. I don’t like the fact they add sugar and salt in their treats. So be aware of how much your dog is consuming.
Proteins Available: Beef, Rabbit, Salmon, Chicken, TurduckenCheck Price
A great freeze-dried dog treat option.
Flavors Available: Chicken, Wild Alaskan Salmon, Beef, Beef & CheeseCheck Price
This is a new one to me and can’t wait to try it. They are very small bites, making it perfect for agility training! They also have jerky treats, so don’t use those for training.
Proteins Available: Salmon, Duck, TurkeyCheck Price
Super small bites making it great for training.
Proteins Available: Organic Chicken, Duck, SalmonCheck Price
Walk About has some very unique protein options, making it a great option for dogs with allergies.
Proteins Available: Kangaroo, Rabbit, Alligator, Duck, Goat, Brushtail, QuailCheck Price
Just as the name states, all they sell are fish treats.
Proteins Available: Sea Fish, Squid, CalamariCheck Price
What stood out most for me on these treats are that the fruit ingredients are listed BEFORE the salt. This means there is more than 1% of these fruits, which is a rare find in dog treats.
Proteins Available: Beef, Venison, Wild Boar, Salmon, Rabbit, Duck, Chicken, Alligator, Lamb, Tuna, PheasantCheck Price
PetKind caught my eye because green tripe is listed as the first ingredients. What is green tripe you ask? Honestly, I’ve heard of it before, I knew it was considered a healthy super food. But what I didn’t realize is that Green tripe, in its raw, natural state, is the stomach lining of ruminant or grazing animals such as cattle, sheep, bison and oxen.
Flavors Available: Green Beef Tripe, Green Bison Tripe, Green Lamb Tripe, Green Pork TripeCheck Price
These are on the larger side, so you’d have to break them apart to be good for training.
Flavors Available: Beef, Mango & Turmeric; Chicken, Cranberry & Chamomile; Turkey, Sweet Potato & Cinnamon; Chicken, Berries & Ginger; Chicken, Coconut & Vanilla; Chicken, Coconut Milk & Chia Seed; Pork, Pineapple & ThymeCheck Price
Although this is labeled as freeze-dried dog food, it’s great to use a training treats too!
Proteins Available: Beef & Tripe, Chicken & Liver, Venison & Liver, Beef TripeCheck Price
To be honest, there was a time I thought I would never use treats for training my dog. But I’ve learned over the years that treats are a great way to train a dog to love learning.
Make sure whatever treats you choose; they are small and can be easily and quickly chewed. You don’t want to interrupt quality training time with your dog chomping away at big crunchy biscuit. Plus, he will end up gaining a lot of weight if you feed him too many!
Which brings me to another great point… if you are doing a lot of treat training, make sure to cut back on his regular kibble feedings. The last thing you want is an overweight and unhealthy dog.
If you’ve ever taken a dog training class, you probably heard the trainer reference high-value treats. A high-value treat is one that YOUR dog can’t get enough of. It’s a treat that your dog will do anything for, drop what he’s doing and run to you.A high-value treat is one that YOUR dog can’t get enough of. It’s a treat that your dog will do anything for, drop what he’s doing and run to you.
Think of your favorite food, is it chocolate, ice cream, pizza, or maybe lobster. Whatever it is close your eyes and start thinking about this food. Does your mouth start to water, are you craving this food now? This is the reaction you want your dog to have.
Find what your dog loves and use that treat only for training. It may take a few trial and errors, but that’s okay… it could be chicken, beef or maybe a smelly freeze-dried fish treat. Whatever it is, this will help you get your dog to listen to you much quicker.
I highly recommend buying 3-4 different brands and/or flavored and test which your dog values the most. Rotate and switch flavors throughout time to keep them exciting.
I would love to know if you have a favorite brand of dog training treats. And what are your dogs favorite? Leave a comment below, it could help someone else looking for something new…
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You love your dog, he is your family and you'd do anything for him, right? Then you owe it to him to learn his language.
Debi McKee is a mom of three kids, two dogs and the creator of Rescue Dogs 101... where she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She also volunteers for a local dog rescue and Humane Society.