Updated: Feb 15
How to Decide on the Right Dog Treats...
Who doesn’t enjoy a good treat? I’m a foodie after all, and looking forward to a treat at some point in my day definitely helps motivate me. And, I know my dogs feel the same way because they get very excited when they hear me ask, “Who wants a treat?!” But, just like humans, dogs can be picky eaters, showing preferences to certain treats, foods, and flavors over others. And, just like humans, they may love food and not know when enough is enough! In my family, I have one of each type: my 60-pound Sheepadoodle, Charlee, will eat anything in front of her (except maybe celery), and my 18-pound Coton-tzu, Cody, will turn his nose up to anything if it’s not a fresh, healthy vegetable. They definitely have minds of their own and are definitely smarter than people may think.
Dog treats are used most commonly to help motivate dogs to recognize correct behaviors when training them, especially as puppies. Overall, dogs can be pretty easy to train, but you can’t expect them to obey all of your commands right away without some kind of reward, which can potentially add up to a lot of treats. Also, when you just want to spoil them a little because just looking at their faces melts your heart, an extra dog treat here and there seems fair, right?
Ok, so what should you be looking for when choosing dog treats? Here are a few things to consider when treating your dog. It’s just like choosing for yourself. Dogs are considered family after all.
Always check the ingredients of dog treats. Avoid anything with added ingredients like sugar or sodium or artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Simple, easy to read ingredients are key.
There is a wide range of dog treats on the market. You can find products ranging from single-ingredient treats, like freeze dried beef, to treats made for dogs with dietary restrictions or allergies, such as dairy-free or grain-free. You can also find treats that are made from who-knows-what and have been sitting on the shelf for who-knows-how long. Your best bet is to look for treats with a limited number of ingredients (ones you can read) and no artificial fillers, by-products or additives. Please, take time to read the ingredients.
In a training session, for example, a treat for each correct behavior can quickly add up and make your pup’s tummy full. Also, it can pack on the pounds! Let’s be honest, I am guilty of offering treats when they’re just looking at me with their puppy dog eyes. I am going to guess I'm not alone on this.
That’s why dog-training treats are usually small and contain only a few calories per piece. And you don’t have to use specifically labeled training treats, but whatever you do use should be small or cut up into smaller pieces. Baking homemade treats (or using unbaked or baked Dough ReMia’s Doggie Dough) cut into small pieces works really well when training because you can control the size and thickness of each treat.
The size of your dog matters, too, since a treat that seems tiny for a 100-pound dog is going to be more than sufficient for a 5-pound dog. One size does not fit all when treating dogs. Again, you can custom size your dog treats to what works for your dog(s) using Dough ReMia’s prepared dough. Choose from a variety of different sized cookie cutters depending on what works best for your dog’s height and weight. I know from experience that Cody will not take a large treat because it’s too overwhelming for him unless I break it into more manageable sized pieces, but Charlee will swallow any treat in one bite!
The majority of training treats are either soft or crunchy, so you’ll need to figure out which your dog likes best. Older dogs seem to prefer a softer treat while teething puppies may prefer a harder treat. If baking your own treats, consider the baking temperature and time. Bake low and slow to dehydrate treats to dry them out and naturally preserve them. They sell all different types of treats at stores. You may need to experiment to see which your pup likes best.
Think of treat value as the difference between being offered celery or ice cream — the ice cream is probably going to tempt you more than the celery, but it could also depend on your mood that day, too.
Dogs are more likely to work harder for a high-value treat, such as a piece of bacon or a bully stick, more than they will for a low-value treat, such as a small piece of kibble. But again, it really depends on your dog. I know Cody is extremely picky and would do anything for a carrot or cucumber, while Charlee prefers a piece of chicken or steak from our dinner plates! I know this is true because of the way they beg, stare with those adorable puppy dog eyes or kick with their paws for different foods and turn their heads or walk away to others. Dogs can be food snobs, too at times.
Of course, high-value treats lose their value when you feed them too often. I mean, I couldn’t eat cheesecake everyday for a year… or could I? It would eventually lose its luster because it can become boring. So alternate between treats or add a variety of mix-ins such as parmesan cheese, crumbled turkey bacon, or a sprinkle of cinnamon if baking your own.
5) Human Foods as Treats
As from previous examples, some people use morsels of human food as treats for their fur babies.
If you go this route, choose safe options for dogs, like small pieces of chicken, little cubes of cheese, bacon, or frozen string beans or cut up apples and carrots. Stay away from foods full of sugar, sodium, artificial ingredients, fillers and by-products.
Baking your own treats using human-grade ingredients is always a great option because you know exactly what is going into your treats and dog’s stomach, and the best part is that they are made fresh. There are a variety of recipes for baked and non-baked dog treats. Read my first blog full of easy to make no-bake dog treat recipes. Also, Dough ReMia’s Doggie Dough is made with 100% premium, human-grade ingredients. No bowls or mixing required. All you need to do is shape & bake (or serve as is!) People seem to enjoy them, too (Shhh!) Why not share the love?
6) Other Ways to Reward or Treat your Dog
Again, like some humans, some dogs simply aren’t motivated by food. But there are definitely other ways you can reward your dog.
If your dog is a people pleaser, they may be satisfied with a hefty dose of praise each time they get something right. If your dog loves to snuggle, a simple hug or scratch behind its ears can do the trick, too. Also, dogs who love to play are highly motivated by a quick play session with a favorite toy like fetch, tug-o-war or a walk alongside their BFF.
In other words, treating your dog is highly personal and dependent on your pup’s preferences. Like humans, they have a mind of their own. No matter how you look at it, it’s important to treat your dog well!
*Obviously we are biased to Dough ReMia’s Doggie Dough. They are made with healthy, human-grade ingredients and are easy to prepare so that your pup can enjoy them fresh, daily. Also, they are perfect for dogs of all sizes. Each dough is 1-pound and yields many treats. They are extremely versatile, and can be served as is, frozen, or baked. Have fun and mix it up with add-ins like parmesan cheese, bacon, or some of your dog’s other favorite flavors. You are in control fo the shape, size, thickness, texture, etc. We've made sure you do not need to worry about ingredients- we use only the best! Dough ReMia's Doggie Dough is are here to help you TREAT your dog even BETTER! To learn more visit us at www.doughReMia.com or on IG @dough_remia