There are many ways to train a dog. But using puppy training treats is one of the quickest, easiest and tastiest ways of communicating your approval for a job well done.
What counts as a puppy training treat? It’s a very broad category, ranging from pre-packaged products sold in pet stores and veterinarian offices to cereal or a piece of fruit straight from your kitchen. As long as it suits your puppy’s dietary needs and restrictions, any dog-appropriate foodstuff can be a treat to reinforce good behavior.
Since they are meant to be special rewards, pre-packaged treats are more expensive than regular dog food. A small 4-ounce package of treats can cost $4 to $10, whereas a 5-pound bag of kibble can go for the same price. Depending on your training schedule, that bag of treats could be empty in less than a week, and the costs of these treats can quickly add up.
Pre-packaged training treats are convenient for many reasons. Their generally small size is perfect for repeating commands without overfeeding your dog, and also makes them great for taking on the go. Some premium treats contain beneficial nutrients that can be used to supplement your puppy’s diet even when not training.
What Are the Best Dog Training Treats To Use?
Even though it seems dogs don’t discriminate much in their choice of snacks, there is such a thing as low, medium and high-value treats. Knowing when to use each is key to successful training.
Low-value treats can be something like a piece of kibble: not very smelly (in a good way) or flavorful, but still interesting enough to be a training reward for easy commands.
A high-value treat, on the other hand, usually has a strong smell and is packed with flavor. These treats, usually made of whole meat such as liver, are highly prized by pups and can motivate them to master difficult commands or behaviors.
These high-value treats are helpful when teaching your dog one of the most important “tricks” they’ll need to learn: coming back to you when called, regardless of the distractions around them.
Puppy Training Treats Buying Guide
It’s always important to consult with your vet before adding training treats to your dog’s diet, especially if your dog has any dietary sensitivities or allergies. Once you’ve cleared it with a professional, consider the following points when shopping for treats:
• Ingredients. A short and easy-to-read ingredients list is a good sign that your chosen treats won’t contain any “mystery” or unwanted ingredients, such as artificial additives or allergens.
• Treat size. The size of the treat you should use depends on a couple of factors: the size of your puppy and the type of training they’ll be doing. Smaller treats are good for short, repetitive commands (sit, stay, etc.), while larger treats are better for reinforcing positive behaviors such as staying in their bed/kennel.
• Smell. Pungent, stinky treats are especially appealing to puppies and are considered “high-value” treats. While you won’t always need them for basic training, stinky treats are good for training in places with several distractions, like the park. A balance of low- or medium-value treats and very high-value treats go a long way in successful puppy training.
The Best Puppy Training Treats of 2023
Best Overall: Zesty Paws Dog Training Treats
List Price: $13.97
Elevate your dog's training sessions with Zesty Paws Dog Training Treats, the perfect reward for your furry companion's hard work and good behavior. These training treats can make your dog’s training sessions more effective. The result is an experience that is enjoyable for both you and your dog. Packed with flavor and nutrition, these training treats are an ideal motivational tool to help your pup master new tricks and commands. Plus, you can reinforce positive behavior, too.
You might be wondering what sets these treats apart from the rest, and the answer is their irresistible taste. Even better, the taste is made possible because of the wholesome ingredients in the treats. Some of the ingredients include chicken and salmon, which ensure that your dog receives plenty of protein alongside various essential nutrients. Plus, they're free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives, making them our top choice.
- Made with high-quality ingredients
- Small in size and convenient to eat
- Powerful motivator to reinforce positive behavior
- Some dogs may have allergies or sensitivities
Most Flavorful: EBPP Chicken Jerky Dog Treats
List Price: $24.26
The Emmy's Best Pet Products Chicken Jerky Dog Treats are a great, safe option for training treats. The natural chicken jerky treats are made with premium and organic chicken strips, giving your dog a delicious and nutritious flavor. These treats are made with limited ingredients for the most natural flavor. These treats ensure your pup remains healthy and hearty; they are grain-free and contain no additives, preservatives, corn, soy, or gluten.
Your furry friends will love the taste and the nutrition since these treats are high in protein and low in fat. The 8oz bag ensures you always have a training treat on hand for your dog. These treats are filled with flavor and nutrition, your pup will love them, making them our top pick.
- Subscription option available for convenience
- No bad smell from the ingredients
- Easy to break into small bites for puppies
- The edges may be sharp
Runner up: Petlab Co. Salmon Bites
List Price: $13.44
The Petlab Co.'s Salmon Bites are great for puppy owners looking to train their furry friend. Formulated with top-quality, premium salmon sourced in the US and worldwide, these crunchy treats are packed with essential minerals and vitamins for your dog! These training chews contain antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and B Vitamins – perfect for your pup’s overall health and well-being. These tasty snacks are delicious and nutritious.
Moreover, you can combine these salmon treats with probiotic chews to enhance the effects. Together, these two health supplements can work wonders for your dog’s digestion, skin, and coat. All Petlab Co. products are exclusively manufactured in the USA – so you know you’re getting the highest quality treats with the freshest ingredients.
- Small and easy to chew
- Contain minerals and vitamins
- Great for dogs with skin issues
- Small quantity for price
Best taste: Zuke’s Mini Naturals Training Treats
List Price: $7.58
Rewarding your puppy with a big, juicy snack can be tempting during training, but this is rarely a good idea. Zuke’s Mini Naturals are tiny, but full of flavor, helping your puppy to move on quickly from one command to the next.
As a plus, while they’re aromatic enough to be interesting for dogs, they won’t leave your hands smelling for hours like some other dog treats. They’re also only 3 calories each, making them great for training simple, repetitive commands such as sit and stay.
Mini Naturals has you covered if your pup is finicky about treat flavors. It comes in 11 different varieties, including duck, rabbit and peanut butter. Though they don’t contain corn, wheat or soy, they might not sit well with sensitive tummies, so be sure to ask your vet if these treats are good for your puppy. It’s also important to store them properly since they can easily dry up.
- Small yet packed with lots of flavor
- Ingredients suit most dogs without dietary restrictions
- Available in 11 different varieties
- Low-calorie formula is ideal for training commands
- Can dry out quickly if not stored properly
- May not be ideal for dogs with sensitive stomachs
Editor's pick: Simply Nourish Freeze Dried Beef Liver Dog Treats
List Price: $26.95
Training a puppy can be hard sometimes, especially in unfamiliar places with many distractions. These freeze-dried beef liver treats are just stinky enough to catch your puppy’s attention, no matter the situation. Their only ingredient is liver, which makes them a viable choice for almost every diet plan.
These treats are fairly large, so chopping them up for your puppy is recommended before training. Because these are premium “high-reward” treats, they are somewhat expensive at roughly $2.70 per ounce, compared to Zuke’s Mini Naturals’ $1 per ounce. Even so, they’re a healthy option for rewarding your puppy for good behavior.
- High-value, single-ingredient treats
- Large enough to be chopped up for multiple uses
- Good breakdown of protein, fat and fiber
- Formula is free of gluten and grains
- Fairly expensive compared to other options
- Not suitable for use as frequent treats
Best for low prices: Bil-Jac Liver Dog Treats
List Price: $36.56
Liver treats are always a big hit with dogs, but the good stuff can be a bit pricey. Bil-Jac’s chicken liver treats are a budget-friendly alternative for getting your puppy’s attention during training. They’re small enough as is, but they can be pinched into even smaller pieces for smaller pups to gulp down. And while the almost $40 price may seem high, this pick comes with a whopping 3.75 pounds of treats, making it a great investment.
Aside from their convenient size, they can also be molded to fit inside toys — such as the popular Kong brand of rubber toys — for an added challenge. Unlike pricier liver treats, Bil-Jac’s does use some flour, chicken by-products and other fillers, making it important to check with your vet if these are right for your pup.
- Affordable high-value stinky treats
- Large package for long-term use
- Small enough to fit inside Kong toys
- Soft and chewy texture
- May not be suitable for sensitive stomachs/allergies
- May get stuck together in hot environments
Best for sensitive stomachs: Blue Buffalo Blue Bits Soft-Moist Salmon Training Treats
List Price: $4.70
Salmon makes for a tasty and healthy canine meal or treat. Blue Buffalo’s Blue Bits in salmon flavor are small enough to serve as puppy training treats while also being high in nutritious content, particularly Omega-3 and fatty acids. They also contain DHA, which helps with dogs’ cognitive development, especially puppies.
Even though they can supplement your puppy’s diet, they contain grains, which might not agree with some doggy diets. Blue Bits also come in three other flavors (beef, turkey, chicken) for puppies that don’t have sensitive tummies.
- Contains DHA, which supports cognitive development
- Sized appropriately for puppies and large dogs alike
- Comes in four different flavors
- Features a nutritious formula with healthy fatty acids
- Unsuitable for dogs that shouldn’t eat grains
- Package is somewhat small
Best jerky-style treats: Rocco & Roxie Jerky Sticks
List Price: $18.97
Jerky treats rarely fail to catch a dog’s attention, and these treats from Rocco and Roxie are softer and chewier than most, making them a great alternative for puppy training. Unlike many training treats, they won’t leave a strong smell on your hands or make a mess in your pocket if you want to take a few on a walk.
These treats are primarily meat-based and are grain-free, which is good for dogs with restricted diets. Their only inconvenience is that they are hard to tear up into tiny pieces by hand. If you’re going to feed them to an especially small puppy, consider chopping them up in the kitchen beforehand.
- Low-scent and non-greasy for convenient carrying
- Grain-free ingredients for sensitive stomachs
- Slow-roasted to achieve a soft, chewy texture
- Main ingredient is American-raised beef
- Hard to tear into bite-sized pieces
- Best used intermittently
Why Trust Us
Our commitment to the consumer begins with product selection and ends with the last word we write in each article. Each pack of puppy training treats is carefully vetted quantitatively through star ratings and the number of reviews and qualitatively through careful examination of reviews and the features each one has to offer. Leveraging our team of bargain hunters, we’re also always sure to keep your budget in mind while we find the best puppy training treats on the market. Our team of experts is dedicated to accurately depicting the pros and cons of each pack of puppy training treats, translating technical product specifications into information you can understand. We aim to provide you with the most enticing and nutrient-packed treats to keep your dog happy and healthy.