Product Review: General Criteria for Training Treats

From time to time, I’ll be doing some product reviews of specific products with you, because if I find something really great, I sure don’t want to keep that good news all to myself!  You’d better believe I’ll want to get the word out! But I have specific criteria that I look for in treats that I use, so here’s my general checklist.

A sampling of several different kinds of treats

Some of the really key things I look for:

  • Natural, Quality Ingredients
  • Location of manufacturer
  • Stink
  • Size of the Treat and Ease in Breaking it
  • Availability

Natural Ingredients

I’ve found that most dogs really go for treats that are simple and natural.  With all of the scares and publicity surrounding dangerous treats, I look for things that are healthy and natural.  I find that even though dogs can’t read the ingredients list, they always seem to really appreciate a high quality treat.  More meat….less filler of grains, or other “stuff” that I can’t pronounce!

Location of Manufacturer

Because of the whole recall issue, and the fact that some dogs have become very sick or died, I’m careful to know where a treat is made.  It doesn’t have to be made in the USA for me, but I definitely stay away from any food or treat that has ingredients coming from China.


I know that this is a weird thing to seek out in a treat, but it gets back to what dogs love.  They really love treats with strong, stinky smells!  And, when I’m training through distractions, if the treat is really stinky, and I’m putting it right in front of Rugby’s nose….he’s all in when it comes to focus on me!  Score!

Size of the Treat

This one is a huge make or break for me when it comes to treats.  First of all, if the treats are huge, I can’t do much training, because the dog’s tummy fills up too quickly.  Secondly, dogs in America are largely overfed.  Many owners I work with equate love with treats, so they over-feed their dogs.  When I’m training a dog, all I’m looking for is to give them a taste of something….a tiny bite the size of an eraser on the end of a pencil.  Tiny!  That way, I can offer jackpots for outstanding performances, and I’m not filling up the dog’s tummy too quickly.  Many treats aren’t tiny, so I also look for ease in breaking the original piece into those tiny bites.  I don’t want to have to get a hammer out to chisel treats into the right size for training.


This one is probably less important to me, but more important to my clients.  Some of my very favorite training treats aren’t easily found unless you order online.  For some of my clients it’s terrific because they order online all the time.  For others, if they can’t find it locally, they’re not going to use it.  Unfortunately, some of the very best treats come from small companies who don’t sell their product in the big box pet stores.  When I use a training product that a specific dog LOVES, that client really wants to find it for their own dog, even if it means ordering online.

Different types, flavors, textures
Different types, flavors, textures

Treat Values

Keep in mind, that it’s always a great idea to have a few different types of treats, all having different values of appeal to your dog. When the work is easier, you can use a lower value treat, such as dog food kibble, or a standard little dog biscuit.  However, when you’re asking him to focus on harder work, you’ll want to offer him a better value treat so that he feels as if he’s being fairly paid.  It’s also much easier to get and keep his attention and focus when he’s crazy about the treat you’re using.  Higher value treats are going to have more meat ingredients and have fewer fillers.

No matter what, any treat that you want to use is of no value whatsoever if your dog doesn’t like it.  Be sure you’re training with food that your dog really likes!



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