Do you have trouble finding great training treats for your dog? In today’s post, I share which dog treats work best for my three dogs in training.
Strata’s Favorite Dog Treats
Strata is by far the easiest dog to find treats for. He will eat almost anything with a smile on his face and song in his heart. He wasn’t always this way! As a young puppy, he was so picky and I was always offering him new things. Once he hit about 8 months old, his “sheltie stomach” kicked in and he started eating anything and everything, including fruits and veggies!
Strata has some food sensitivities, so anything with feathers (not just “conventional poultry” but also duck, ostrich, etc.) is out. Previously, we thought his sensitivities included beef, but recently we’ve reintroduced it without a problem. We generally stick to the protein sources of fish, lamb, and pork for his dog treats.
Strata’s favorite treats are…
- Fruitables Skinny Minis soft treats. A warning: they’re not that soft – we cut them with a knife!
- Bravo freeze-dried treats, particularly Mariner’s Medley, which is their cat treat blend. The small bits are perfect for him, since he gains weight easily.
- Grain-free dog kibble. I rotate through different brands and formulas, but currently we’re using Merrick‘s pork and sweet potato recipe.
Spark’s Favorite Dog Treats
Unlike his uncle Strata, Spark has no food sensitivities. He’s just picky! I was hoping he would outgrow it too, but so far he has not. At home, he’s less picky and will work for kibble, cheese, hot dogs – the usual.
When we train in unfamiliar or distracting locations, I have to pull out the “big guns” for him, which are:
- Tripe. Occasionally I use canned tripe, but for the most part, he’s happy with K9 Natural Lamb Green Tripe which is freeze-dried.
- Pork jerky from Dog Gone Jerky. I picked this up at a dog show when he was a puppy and it’s one of the few commercial treats he’ll still consistently eat. It’s a little greasy, but cuts up easily and he loves it!
- Cat food, which I covered in-depth in one of my last blog posts.
- Happy Howie’s lamb roll. This stuff is great – it is not crumbly at all, and the ingredient list is much healthier than most of the other dog food roll brands.
Finch’s Favorite Dog Treats
Ah, Finch. My little weirdo. First, the sensitivities: the little guy cannot have any beef. It elicits an allergic reaction in him within hours – swollen ears, red eyes, the whole nine yards.
Finch is also prone to ear infections, and we’re still trying to sleuth out what bothers him. Right now his vet and I are pretty sure it’s environmental (specifically, a big tree in my neighbor’s yard), but to stay on the safe side Finch eats grain-free and we avoid anything sugary.
Finch is also strange in that he strongly prefers crunchy treats, which is extremely unusual. Finding a high-value treat for Finch’s TACT training had been really challenging, and we discovered one by accident when Finch was about 8 months old. My brother spilled a box of Fruit Loops on the floor and Finch started hoovering them up.
We kept using the Fruit Loops while we experimented with other treats that were more nutritious. Here’s what we settled on…
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Freeze Dried Raw lamb formula. There are pros and cons to this stuff, for sure. Pros: Perfect size, light color which contrasts well against most floors, comes in a relatively large bag (14oz!), and it’s a complete meal so I don’t have to worry about “unbalancing” his diet. Cons: expensive as all get-out, and the powder combines with dog drool to glue your fingers together. To me, it’s totally worth it.
- Other freeze-dried raw products, like the Bravo treats we give Strata.
- Peanut butter, which we put in a squeeze tube for ease of use. This is the lone exception to Finch’s “no mushy stuff” policy. As you can see, he’s always been a PB enthusiast:
A big huge flaming “learn from my mistake” factoid: much of the store-bought peanut butter has corn syrup in it! Here I am, trying to be a good dog owner, feeding a grain-free diet… while giving him corn syrup 1-2x/day for his pills, in his Kong, during training sessions. UGH. His allergies improved significantly once I switched to fresh-ground PB from Whole Foods with no additives whatsoever.
How About You?
I hope learning about what works well for my pups gives you some new ideas to try with yours. If you have a suggestion for one of these guys, let me know – I’m always on the hunt for new treats to try!
(Many thanks to Katie Rogers at Smiling Wolf Photography for the pic of Spark!)