The Scoop on Treats for Dogs

giving a treat to a dog - chinese shar pei puppy getting a treat isolated on white background

If you wonder if dogs really need treats, all you have to do is produce a bag of dog treats and see the joy it elicits. Spoiling your pooch with his favorite fun and tasty treat can be about more than pleasing him. Treats are effective for teaching dogs on any level from potty training and basic obedience on up to competitive and sports training. Additionally, certain types of treats are formulated to enhance dog health. That means, instead of “Should I treat my dog?” the question should be “Which dog treats would my best friend enjoy this week?”

Types of Treats

You can treat your dog just for the sake of brightening his day, or you can give dog treats with a purpose. Purposeful dog treats would be the ones that support dog health such as treats made with glucosamine and chondroitin to maintain joint health and ease pain, or ones that are made to be chewed on to help clean your dog’s teeth. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals1, chew treats do more than help clean your pooch’s teeth and keep them strong. They also fulfill his natural urge to gnaw on something, as well as prevent boredom and alleviate stress by giving him something enjoyable to do. Nylon and rubber chew toys are always an option, but dogs go nuts for edible dental dog treats such as Greenies, which also happen to be approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council2 as being effective for removing plaque and tartar.

Using Treats for Training

Dog treats are a useful training tool. They provide positive reinforcement whether your pooch is a sporting dog, a competitor, or just needs a little incentive in obedience training. Certified dog trainer Kate Jackson gives Web MD3 viewers some advice on dog training treats. First, since your dog will get a lot of treats during a training session, you should break dog training treats in half. Because you need to be able to divide up the individual treats, you will want to use moist treats instead of dry ones, and pick small ones, so your buddy only gets bits of dog treats as a reward. Also, Jackson recommends finding three or four different types or flavors that your dog likes and keeping them all on hand for training sessions. Introducing a new flavor when a dog starts getting bored with training will help keep his interest.

10 Percent Max

It’s easy for a dog to overeat if he gets unlimited treats in addition to his usual food, and an overweight pooch is susceptible to dog health problems. Web MD4 recommends giving treats one at a time and sticking to the “10 Percent Rule.” Essentially, that means calculating your pal’s treats as part of his total calorie count for the day, with dog treats not making up more than 10 percent. Reduce Milo’s kibble ration based on how many treats he got (or will get) during the day. If you are unsure of how to go about that, Web MD says your vet can advise you on a food-to-treat ratio that’s tailored to your dog’s weight and activity level and based on the specific treats and food you feed him. Alternatively, you can opt for a low-calorie treat. Zuke’s is one of the quality brands that makes healthy, tasty low-cal dog treats.