As a loving pet owner, you probably enjoy treating your dog as much as the next person. When our little Westie sees the treats coming out, he sits to attention immediately and, quite literally, starts smiling from ear to ear. We’re sure we get more pleasure from it then he does though!
When training your dog, you must find good-quality treats that are low in calories to ensure that they’re not taking on too many for the day. Although, with hundreds of choices around, it can be hard to find the best dog treats for training. Below are five treats that we have tried and tested ourselves.
Best Dog Treats for Training: Brief Reviews
For most people, their dog is their best friend. If it’s the same for you, then, obviously, you want to ensure that they live long and healthy lives alongside you. For that, you’d want to make sure that what you’re feeding them is nutritious, safe, and high-quality.
To help you out, we decided to share with you our top five favorites when it comes to nutrient- and protein-packed treats. Below, we explain what we like about each of them and why we think they deserve to be on this list.
Founded over 20 years ago, Zuke’s aims to provide healthy snacks to help keep your dog going. The founder, Patrick, started researching into what his dog’s body needed for good health and energy and then made the first Zuke’s snack out of his garage back in 1995.
It’s easy to see that Zuke’s has been born out of love for dogs. This is the reason why it is one of our most trusted dog treats brand today.
Here are some of the product highlights that we believe secure this dog treat onto our list here:
- All-Natural, Premium Ingredients
As the name suggests, Zuke’s treats contain only premium, natural ingredients. It is a nutritionally dense dog treat sourced using the finest ingredients in the USA. It comes with no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Real chicken is the number one ingredient in these soft, chewy treats. These have a guaranteed analysis of 10% crude protein, as well as added cherries and turmeric to boost the nutrients and antioxidants that your dog is receiving. This will help them through an active and healthy training session.
- Small Size, Small Calories
These treats are perfect for smaller dog breeds like West Highland Terriers! At less than three calories per treat, you don’t even have to worry too much about giving him quite a few of these throughout a longer training session.
- Lots of Flavor Choice
Another thing we love about these treats is the variety of flavors it’s available in. Even if you have a fussy pooch, you’re sure to find something he likes here with roasted chicken, duck, salmon, rabbit, and pork. The peanut butter and oats flavor also receive outstanding reviews and feedback!
Check out the guaranteed analysis of each pack to see the difference in protein and fiber content, and mix the flavors up to give your dog more varied rewards for training.
This comes from a great company that cares about dogs and their health just as much as you do. The use of top-quality ingredients with very low caloric content means that you can treat your dog guilt-free when training, or otherwise. We also like the resealable bag that this product comes in, which helps to keep the treats fresh.
These treats do contain some processed grains for nutritional value, so if your dog is sensitive to grain, then you should avoid these treats.
- Has very low caloric content
- Uses all-natural ingredients
- Comes from a fantastic brand
- The most budget-friendly choice on this list
- Available in a good choice of flavors
- Packaged in a resealable bag
- Not suitable for dogs with grain allergies
- Too chewy for very young pups
Wellness Natural Pet Food has a fantastic heritage in the pet food market. Since the 1990s, it has been helping revolutionize the pet food industry by providing delicious pet food with simple, natural ingredients.
Working with animal nutrition experts, veterinarians, and scientists, this brand is committed to your pet’s overall wellness so that you can enjoy a longer and healthier life together.
Although these treats are marketed to puppies specifically, we think they’re great for any small dogs, and perfect for any dog when it comes to training and rewarding.
- All-Natural Ingredients
This is another product that boasts all-natural ingredients with no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. The ingredients list doesn’t contain too many items, and they are all recognizable, nutritious ingredients and natural additives.
This lamb and salmon flavor also has at least 14% crude protein guaranteed per treat, which is a really decent amount for this type of dog treat. The chicken flavor contains even more fiber.
- Grain-Free, Low-Calorie Treats
These bite-sized treats are also grain-free, which is fantastic if you have learned that your dog has a sensitivity towards grains. They are also wheat- and dairy-free, so if you’re particularly worried about allergens, then this is a great snack to try.
At just four calories per treat, you can use these treats to train your puppy or dog without worrying about giving him too much.
- Wellness Guarantee
The Wellness guarantee that you get with every purchase means that if you or your pup isn’t happy with the product, then you can return the unused portion to the shop with the receipt, and you’ll get a full refund.
We love the all-natural approach taken by Wellness, and by making the product grain-free, it is more widely accessible to all dog owners with small pups. Although there are only two flavors, we love that they are well-balanced and well-thought-out flavor combinations that provide optimal nutrition in each bite.
Although these treats are made in the USA, the ingredients are globally sourced. We would prefer if the ingredients were sourced in the USA too, which would indicate stricter controls over suppliers, support local producers, and guarantee freshness. They also only come in smaller pack sizes and are slightly pricier than many treats on this list.
- Made with all-natural ingredients
- Does not come with too many calories
- Higher protein content than Zuke’s
- Grain-free, dairy-free, and wheat-free
- Comes with a satisfaction guarantee
- Packaged in a resealable bag
- Ingredients not sourced in the USA
- Slightly on the pricier side
- Only available in smaller pack sizes
The connection they share with pets is what has inspired Cloud Star to produce top-quality, wholesome food and treats since 1999. This brand also donates to non-profit organizations that promote the human-animal bond.
Tricky Trainers is one of several treats that Cloud Star produces to provide just the trick to train your dog.
A favorite of The American Kennel Club, the Tricky Trainers dog treats are an excellent choice for training your small dogs.
- All-Natural, Familiar Ingredients
This is another wholesome and nutritional treat product that uses 100% natural ingredients instantly recognizable from your own kitchen pantry. These treats are made in the USA with real chicken livers and come with a guaranteed analysis of at least 10% crude protein.
- Official Training Treat of AKC Canine Good Citizen Program
We love the fact that this brand has been picked by the AKC Canine Good Citizen Program as an official training treat, as recognition for what a great dog training product this is. Established in 1989, this program encourages responsible dog ownership and training across the United States.
- Low-Calorie Treats
Every bite is a fantastic low-calorie treat that contains less than three calories. They are really soft too, so they won’t dry out easily and crumble in your pocket. You can also halve them really easily using your thumbnail to make them go even further. These treats must be so tasty as our Westie still goes crazy for them, even at half its size!
Again, we love the all-natural and, especially in this case, the particularly short ingredient list of this product. We also appreciate how soft each treat is, making it easy to cut in half to go twice as far.
These treats have a liver flavor, like the ones from Zuke. These contain grain, so they won’t be suitable if your dog is sensitive to grains. The brand does, however, offer some grain-free versions of this treat.
- Less than three calories per treat
- Made with an all-natural formula
- Very short ingredients list
- An official training treat of the CGC
- Comes in a resealable bag
- Not suitable for dogs with grain sensitivities
Another great company that supports worthy organizations worldwide, Blue Buffalo shares a great ethos with us, treating pets like family and feeding them like family.
After their family dog struggled with cancer, Blue Buffalo was born. It is inspired to provide super-premium pet food to help combat a wide range of pet health problems.
It is easy to see why Blue Buffalo is among the number one brands selling natural pet food in America. Any list of the best dog treats for training just wouldn’t be complete without these Blue Buffalo Bits.
- Finest, All-Natural Ingredients
These treats from Blue Buffalo feature a favorable, all-natural ingredient list that has been thoughtfully put together to provide optimal nutritional value, as well as protection against common health problems in dogs.
With added extras, such as fish oil, these treats provide even more vitamins and minerals for your beloved furry friend. The guaranteed analysis quotes a 10% crude protein content in each bite.
- Larger Sized Bags Available
These treats are available in a variety of different-sized packs, ranging from a four-ounce pack up to a 16-ounce pack. While these treats are a little pricey, the larger packs can help save you a bit of money. We found some great discounts for these treats online too.
These treats are really healthy and wholesome for our dog, and the heart shape of the treats is a really cute touch. It is available in a variety of flavors, including turkey, salmon, beef, and chicken.
Information online is rather lacking regarding the calorie content of these treats. It’s really low at 3.5 calories per treat, so we don’t know why they don’t make this information more readily available for consumers to find.
- Made with all-natural ingredients
- Has a low-calorie count
- Value pack size available
- Comes from a trusted natural pet food brand
- Difficult to obtain calorie information online
- A little on the pricey side
This is yet another entry from Blue Buffalo. The Wilderness treat’s range of dog food is inspired by the diets of wolves and provides consumers with a particularly meat-rich variety of treats. This gives more choice and variety to suit your dog’s lifestyle and nutrition needs.
These Wilderness training treats are the priciest option on this list, but they’re also much better suited to dogs with more active lifestyles.
- Protein-Packed, All-Natural Treats
Our final entry is another all-natural treat that uses only the finest ingredients money can buy. As a result, it is a particularly protein-rich training treat perfect for more intense training sessions and quickly growing puppies.
The content of meat in these treats against others is particularly high. In fact, a guaranteed analysis of this treat shows no less than 20% protein, which is double the amount of protein than the majority of other treats.
- Grain-Free Nutrition
These bite-size Wilderness trail treats are grain-free. If your energetic dog suffers from a grain allergy, this could be your ideal solution. Also free from wheat, soy, and corn, this dog treat is good for avoiding other allergens too.
We love the fact that this brand offers so much protein per bite. If you are training your dog with high-intensity workouts, this treat will be particularly beneficial against other treats because the extra proteins will help their muscles recover faster.
These dog treats are the most expensive on this list, but to be fair, it is to be expected with the extra meat content and protein that is provided in each bite.
- Contains no artificial ingredients
- Grain-free recipe
- Double the protein content of other treats
- Helps promote healthy skin and coat
- Aids in a puppy’s cognitive development
- Most expensive on this list
Knowing what kind of things make a good dog treat is the key to working out which products you should buy for your pet. Our Westie’s diet is just as important to us as our own so where and how the treats are made are taken into consideration for each new product we try for him.
For food, we especially look at many factors such as the ingredients, the brand, caloric content, and the flavors available. Here’s why we feel each factor is important:
As mentioned previously, what our Westie eats is important to us so that he lives a long and healthy life as part of our family. We always study the ingredients list of any food we buy for him, just like we do when we’re buying food for ourselves. We try to keep his treats as natural as possible; the smaller ingredient list, the better!
We generally try to avoid ingredients that we can’t pronounce, and we research anything we don’t recognize so that we know what is in the food he is eating. When it comes to preservatives, we look for natural options such as vitamins C and E or “mixed tocopherols,” which are an effective and safe natural alternative to chemical preservatives.
Before investing in a new product, we also like to do a bit of research on the manufacturer or brand to ensure that it was made in registered facilities. This means that the product is safe to eat and use. We love it when you can see that the brand really cares about your pet, and it’s nice to give back to brands and companies that support charities or are environmentally conscious.
3. Caloric Content
The calorie content is also pretty important to us, as we don’t want to overload our Westie’s diet with too many. When you’re training, you should be even more aware of calorie content as you are likely to give your dog treats more often.
There are so many healthy options on the market; there just isn’t any need to buy the ones that are high in calories. We try to save the calorific treats for really special occasions.
We wouldn’t say that our Westie is a fussy eater, but he doesn’t eat everything we put in front of him like some of my friend’s dogs do! Having a variety of flavors is always a plus to keep him interested, but we noticed that he does tend to prefer certain meat flavors over others, so we always look out for his favorites whenever possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are the healthiest treats for dogs?
The healthiest treats for any dog will be those that are made out of natural, organic ingredients. Go for brands that use more quality ingredients for their products, or you could try making your own! You should also ensure that they aren’t too fatty.
Depending on your Westie’s tastes, you could also try apples, blueberries, and carrots, to see if they like them. For apples and carrots, we found that my Westie enjoys them cut up into small bite-size strips, but be sure to remove the apple core and seeds.
2. Should I use treats to train my dog?
The best way to train your dog is by using positive reinforcement. You can reward him for following commands, but you should be careful not to use a treat as a bribe or lure, as opposed to being a reward. We like to keep treats in our pocket, and once my Westie has followed the command given, we take one out and give it to him, along with a show of affection.
The general consensus is that it’s reasonable to use treats as a reward for following commands, but you should always keep an eye on how many treats you are rewarding him or her with. Also, make sure they are healthy, so you don’t end up making your dog overweight.
3. Can I train my dog without treats?
Yes, it is possible to train your dog without treats by using positive reinforcement, such as praise and affection instead, but it may appear to take longer. Enticing your dog to use its new bed is just so much easier with treats!
You can teach them various commands, such as “sit,” “stay,” “down,” and “leave it” by training them every day, consistently. Start by putting them into the position you want them in while repeating the command, followed by “good boy” and a nice fuss.
After a few days, they should start to get the gist of what you’re doing and will just need a bit of encouragement and reminding. If you stick to a strict daily training schedule, it should take an average of two weeks to learn a new trick.
4. Can too many treats make my dog sick?
Yes, similar to when you feel sick when you eat too many treats, so too can your dog, potentially leading to serious health complications. Treats should make up just 10% of your dog’s daily diet and no more.
Take a look at how many calories are in some treats and then imagine how many you’re giving your dog per day—that’s before you even add the caloric content of his dinner!
Treats are often designed with smaller bite-sized ratios in mind, so feeding them more will also lead them to be nutritionally unbalanced. Even if you have chosen healthier, natural snacks, too much of a good thing can be harmful.
5. Is it bad to give dogs treats everyday?
It’s actually fine to treat your dog every day. You can even cut the treat into smaller parts to make it last longer. As stated above, however, try not to supplement more than 10% of your dog’s calorie intake with treats. They add up fast, so always be aware of the content of the treats you give them.
Those are our favorite dog treats for training! Each and every one of these treats deserves credit for going out of their way to provide natural, nutritious, and wholesome treats for dogs. Our overall winner today, however, is the training treats from Zuke’s.
We are a big fan of the Zuke’s brand and appreciate that the products are made in the USA using premium natural ingredients. They are very low in calories at under three per treat and have added nutrients and vitamins to make them even healthier. After running comparisons on regular prices, these treats are also the most cost-effective.