Dog love food, and they love treats. We love it as well. Who doesn’t love a bar of chocolate as a reward for eating his veggies and fruits?
Or any other type of reward. Giving your dog treats is a way for bonding, but also for commanding certain behavior.
With that in mind, what are the best dog treats? Well, we have looked around, read a huge number of reviews, and came up with five dog treats you can safely buy and use.
Let’s be honest, buying treats for your dogs should not be difficult. Even if you do not choose one of the list of top 5 best dog treats, you can find a good option in the store or online.
However, you have to follow some basic principles:
- Go for products manufactured in reputable countries, most notably, US-made treats
- Check the nutrient content, and see if there are any artificial ingredients. The best treats are without any artificial ingredients in it
- If you have a dog that rarely drinks water, go for a product that has higher moisture
- Consider the calories of the product. You want treats that are just addition to your dog’s daily life, not a full meal
What is the purpose of treats?
When looking for best dog treats, you have to take into consideration the purpose of treats. For example, if you need some treats for positive reinforcement during obedience or behavioral training, you are better off with smaller sized bits.
Your goal here is for your dog to associate the desirable behavior, action, or performance with something that is pleasurable. If the snack is not delicious, your puppy will not perform the desired action.
However, if your goal is to provide supplementation to his diet, go for a different type of treats. For example, some owners go for treats to manage particular health condition like hip dysplasia.
In this case, you want treats with ingredients that will soothe the condition.
Last, but not least, if you want to promote oral and dental health, or freshen your pooch’s breath, choose treats designed specifically for that purpose.
Should you give treats to your puppy?
First-time owners often ask if it is OK to give treats to your dog. And it is only logical, they are just entering the canine world and dog ownership.
You can be skeptical. But there are a variety of reasons why you should give treats to your dog.
The first, and most important, is behavioral training. These edible tools are a reward component in positive reinforcement activities.
For example, if you are training your dog to come at your side when you call out his name. In the beginning, the treat is bait or motivator for your pooch to come to you.
Show an open hand with a treat inside, and your puppy will be excited to come. All dogs love food, so whenever they see free food, they come for it. Eventually, your dog will learn to come even without giving a treat.
Treats can also be used to stimulate physical activity, learning new tricks, commands, and much more.
Who doesn’t want to get a reward for good behavior? Remember when you were in elementary school, did you get a reward for high grades? Of course you did.
Natural, human food treats
In addition to the best dog treats you can buy from a store, you can always try something natural. If you are more into being all natural and raw food, dogs can actually consume a lot of the foods we consume.
Here is a quick breakdown of natural treats:
- Unsalted peanut butter
- Cooked pumpkin
- Fresh apples
- Fresh or cooked carrots
- Cheese, especially low-fat options that are high in calcium and protein
- Green beans are crunchy
- Eggs, cooked only
- Chicken, unseasoned and cooked
- Unsalted popcorn
- Frozen sardines
The 10% rule
People love giving treats to their dogs. We think of treats as a way to bond with our pets. And that is a good thing. But we can often get ahead of ourselves.
Always keep the 10% rule in the back of your head. Basically, treats and snacks need to make up 10% of your dog’s daily calories. You want your dog to eat his/her food, not only treats.
How to use treats
There are a right and a wrong way to give treats to your dog. As a general rule of thumb, you should never give treats to reward excited, over-stimulated, or aggressive state of mind.
When giving treats to your dog, always let him smell the treat first. Hold it up away from him, and wait. Dogs can smell from over 25 feet away. You do not have to put the treat under his nose.
Once your dog has the scent, she may be excited and jump around. Show disapproval of such behavior and attitude, and slowly move back or to one side. Wait, and your patience will be rewarded.
Your dog will begin to figure out what he needs to do, in this case, calm himself. Once your dog is calm, give him a treat. Do not use treats to reinforce an excited dog. You need to command a calm and submissive state.
When to give treats?
It is best to give treats in between meals. Always choose a treat that your dog will enjoy. You can save the best and most delicious treats for last.
If you are using treats as a training tool, do not give them right after a full meal. You will not follow commands, and the treats will not work after a full meal. You should also not give treats before or immediately after a meal.
Top 5 Dog Treats
1. Rocco & Roxie Jerky Sticks
There is a reason why these treats are considered best-seller in jerky treats category. The package is an all-natural beef, chicken, and turkey jerky, a package that your dog is sure to devour. They come in 6-inch jerky sticks made of delicious, tender, and slow-roasted meat. Sourced only from credible farms, the sticks are blended with the same secret family recipe that has been around for many years.
There are no artificial ingredients in the formula. That means no gluten, no corn, and no soy. The company guarantees there will be no stomach issues or upsets in your dog.
And the best part is, the sticks can be broken into smaller pieces. In other words, one single stick can go a long way towards satisfying your dog’s treats needs.
For owners who hate being messy, the unique manufacturing process will not leave a smelly and oily residue on your hands.
2. Orijen® Alberta Wild Boar Singles Freeze-Dried Dog Treats
These are made from 100% meat as well, which is a huge reason why they were one of the highest rated treats in 2018. Packed with a 45% minimum rude protein count, these treats are highly caloric. That might be a minus, as you do not want to overfeed your dog with treats.
The treats are gently freeze-dried, a process that maximizes nutritional value. The company sources the meat from naturally raised wild boars, coming in nourishing ratios of meat, organs, cartilage, and bones. In other words, you are giving your dog virtually every nutrient it needs.
In the end, the company gently freeze-dries the product in their own kitchen, without using any cooking or preservatives.
3. Stella & Chewy'S Carnivore Crunch
One of the main selling points of the product is that it is a freeze-dried treat. This is as close you can get to feed your dog with fresh cuts of meat without cooking any meat. Because it is less processed, there are fewer salts, carbs, and unnecessary sweeteners. Even better, there are no processed foods like potatoes and gelatin in the formula.
Speaking of the formula, the ingredients include just beef. That means beef meat, beef organs, and beef bones. There is also a filler in the form of pumpkin seeds. You might not find it on the ingredients list, but this filler is actually quite healthy, as pumpkin seeds prevent parasites and bacteria.
And while some single-ingredient formulas are healthier, they do not pack quite the nutritional punch as Stella and Chewy combo.
Last, but not least, these treats are some of the best low-calorie and healthy treats at the same time. They contain just 3 calories per treat, which means you can give more to your dog during a training session.
One downside is that these treats tend to crumble, but that happens with most freeze-dried treats.
4. Wellness Natural Grain Free Puppy Training Treats
If you are more into biscuits as treats, nothing comes close as these natural grain training treats. Made by Wellness Natural Pet Food, the single bite treats fill the bill.
The ingredients are soft lamb meat and salmon, which means you are also ensuring hypoallergenic protein source. The two ingredients also improve the nervous system health of your dog. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, these treats provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidants properties. Who would’ve thought treats can be so damn healthy?
Soft, chewy, and perfectly sized for puppies, these treats are great for the training of young puppies. Want to switch to wellness and natural treats? Go ahead with the product made in the USA.
5. Zuke's Mini Naturals Peanut Butter & Oats Recipe Dog Treats
With real peanut butter as the main ingredient, these are small and delicious treats ideal for training sessions. In addition to peanut butter, there are wholefood cherries and savory herbs that support healthy lifestyle.
One of the main selling points is how convenient they are. Sturdy enough to carry during long walks, they are also small enough to grab and serve easily. Another selling point is the caloric value. These treats are low-calorie, with just 3 calories per morsel. The low-calorie content makes them easy for those who do not want to go over the 10% daily calorie limit for treats.
The only downside is that unlike freeze-dried treats, these are more heavily processed. After all, there are ingredients like grains and gelatin in the formula that require more processing.