Most dogs seem to be hungry 24/7, so when offered a tasty treat, it is a rare or unwell dog that will refuse. But they can get a little bored with the same treats. You’ll notice this the most during training sessions when you want to teach the dog to do something, and the treat isn’t worth the effort, at least from your dog’s point of view.

So, to ensure Pooch’s interest and cooperation, or because you want to pamper him or her, the introduction of new and tasty, healthy treats can motivate your canine BFF without resorting to doggy junk food.

Selecting the correct dog treat for your pup has to include any health concerns as well as finding a treat that your dog is willing to work for. After all, treats are one powerful incentive when it comes to training your dog.

Are Treats Necessary?

Definitely. Particularly so when beginning training, teaching a new skill, or when operating in conditions rife with distractions. Treats shouldn't be used as a bribe, but as a reward. While praise and affection are appreciated, there's nothing like a bit of chicken or beef for motivation. Food is and remains the principal reinforcer for canine training.

When you reinforce a desired behavior with a reward, it becomes more probable that your pooch will repeat the action more often. For most dogs, food remains the preferred reward of choice. Food is efficacious as reinforcement because dogs don't need to learn to like it, they require it for survival. it is a primary resource in the same category as water, air, sleep, shelter, and even sex for the continuation of the species.

Am I Bribing My Dog?

Only if treats are used continually when asking your dog to answer a specific command. Initially, treats are used as lures to induce your pooch to  behave in a certain manner. Eventually, food treats need to be replaced with praise, affection, and pats on the head.

Your treat becomes a bribe if your dog refuses to answer a command without a treat being offered.  Ultimately, treats should become less necessary when imparting commands, and rightfully so, but you'll still want to pamper your best friend on occasion.

How to Choose a New Dog Treat

When looking for a new treat, much will depend on your dog’s preferences as well as why and when you give a treat.

Kinds of Treats and Their Use

Treats can be integrated into a daily diet and meet individual needs. Among these are:

  • Dietary Needs Treats – For dogs suffering from allergies, food intolerances, or special dietary needs.
  • Digestion Treats – For dogs with sensitive digestive tracts to support a sensitive gut between meals.
  • Healthy Treats – Vitamin-packed treats to support canine nutrition needs.
  • Training Treats – For positive reinforcement education, small, bite-sized treats are terrific motivators.

Treat Textures

When it comes to texture, like flavor, Pooch will have his or her preferences:

  • Chewy – Treats for puppies and especially for senior dogs with teeth or gum issues.
  • Crunchy – Baked treats with a crunch to them encourage mastication.
  • Moist – Moist dog treats present no difficulties for the elderly or unwell canines.

Treat Contents

So, what’s in the treat? That’s a good question, and you should scan product contents to guarantee that ingredients are healthy, especially for dog sensitivities or health issues.

  • Animal Protein sources – Treats made only with animal protein sources like fish, chicken, or beef.
  • Plant-based treats – Fruits, grains, and vegetables are used exclusively as ingredients 
  • Blended Treats – Include both plant-based and animal protein in the ingredients.

Our Top Treat Picks 

Best Overall 

Chippin Oven Baked Variety Pack

When attempting to select an overall best dog treat, Chippin makes choosing very difficult. This company has so many varied treat products including Omega 3s - Anti Allergen, Prebiotic Gut Health treats, Superfood Power Treats, Vision Support Treats, and even Vegan Treats so it becomes difficult to select just one. In the end, the Oven Baked Variety Pack gets the nod as best overall for its high-quality combination of fruits and vegetables formulated to support digestion and boost the canine immune system. 

Another impressive quality of the Chippin Company is its commitment to the environment featuring a low-carbon “pawprint”. In fact, the company claims that each individual bag of treats in this pack will save up to a whopping 40 gallons of water. This variety pack includes 4 different varieties: Antioxidant, Smokehouse BBQ, Spirulina Dailies and Superfood so your pup can benefit from the various formulas and flavors.

This line of dog treats merits attention. As a pet parent you only want the best for your pooch, and treats can present a problem if your dog has specific health issues or considerations. Before deciding that a treat is not in the cards  for your dog, check out these products that cater to specific health considerations:

  • Silver Carpy Jerky formulated with Omega 3s as an anti-allergen for healthy skin and a beautiful coat.
  • Cricket Jerky Probiotic treat for Gut Health. Great for senior dogs, puppies, and as a pocket for pills these soft and chewy treats are an option for dogs with dental concerns, too.
  • Superfood treats contain omega 3s, peanut butter and pumpkin for a major boost.
  • Smokehouse BBQ treats contain omega 3s and are designed to support your pup’s vision and gut health.
  • Spirulina Dailies are vegan treats and contain human-grade spirulina and kale to boost the immune system. 

There’s even a food topper that promotes digestive health. 

The Variety Pack offers a selection of benefits and flavors that won’t be lost on your pooch, but the entire dog treat line is decidedly worth sampling.

Best Dental Dog Treats

Greenies Original Dental Petite Dog Treats

With VOHC approval these dental treats are made with all-natural ingredients to contrast dental tartar and plaque as well as bad doggy breath. Containing nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, the texture of this cookie will clean right to Pooch’s gum line to encourage dental health. These are not a substitute for teeth brushing and do contain both wheat flour and wheat gluten, so if your dog has a sensitivity, opt for another choice.

Best Puppy Treats

Blue Buffalo Bits – Soft Moist Dog Training Treats

While these treats do contain a bit of sugar thanks to maple syrup among the ingredients, they are a great option for puppies and their training.  Bite-sized treats contain salmon oil and flaxseed oil for omega fatty acids and have no chicken by-products corn, soy, wheat, or artificial flavors or preservatives. Beef is the first ingredient. While ideal for puppies thanks to their small size and moist consistency, they also are great for dogs with certain food sensitivities.

Best Training Treats

Zuke’s Mini Naturals Dog Treats

These treats are great for training sessions because they are “mini” and contain only three calories each. One of the risks of training sessions is giving too many treats.  With these, you won’t have to worry about indulging your pup too much or about adding calories to daily food intake. Completely natural, they contain no wheat, corn, soy, or artificial colors and flavors. They even include turmeric which is considered to be an anti-inflammatory ingredient to improve joint health. They can easily be paired with any quality dog food.

Best Senior Dog Treats

Dogswell Super Boost Squares

If you want to give your senior dog a boost to support his or her immune system, consider these treats from Dogswell. Flaxseed, and vitamins A and E support eye, skin, and coat health. They are soft and easy to chew and digest, making them a perfect choice for the elderly canine. They are produced with all-natural ingredients, 90% chicken, and contain added nutrients.

Best Low-Calorie Treats

Wellness Core Beef Grain-free Jerky Power-Packed Dog Treats

If Pooch tends toward pudginess but you still want to pamper him or her, try these lean snacks made with beef. They contain no artificial colors or flavors and no animal byproducts. All ingredients are natural, and they contain no wheat, corn, wheat gluten, or soy. They do contain calcium, iron, vitamin A and zinc and are great for training sessions. Each treat boasts only six calories, so if you want to get Pooch moving, this tasty treat will provide some strong motivation.

Best Budget Alternative

Old Mother Hubbard Classic Original Assortment Oven-Baked Dog Biscuits

These all-natural dog biscuits come in 4 flavors and have a delightful crunchy texture. Containing no meat by-products or artificial preservatives, they are shaped into bone cookies. Slow-baked, they do contain whole wheat flour and wheat bran.  Low in calories, this is a budget-friendly option, especially if you have more than one dog. They could contain a bit more meat.

A black lab with a person on a dock

A Final Thought

Regardless of whether your pooch has special dietary needs or food allergies, the marketplace offers many exciting products for rewarding or pampering your special furry friend. Our dog testers loved these tasty treats, and we hope your dog will too.