Cleaner Paws is a mother-daughter run blog. Together we have over 40+ years of professional pet grooming experience and we hope to pass some of that on to our readers throughout our in-depth and non-bias reviews and buyers guides.
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This review guide was updated in November 2018.
Everyone loves being rewarded for doing something well. This can be for good behavior, participation in some sort of event or just helping others (although the reward is not always our main motivation of course). We’re rewarded continuously throughout our everyday lives, from bonuses at work to being given ‘star awards’ as children for completing complicated tasks.
The same is true for animals, for good behavior, we often give our dear friends treats and they are often very happy with the rewards they receive . It could be for training purposes or simply because we love them and they’ve behaved in a particularly good way one evening when friends have visited, either way, it is always a good feeling to give them something they get excited for. With this in mind you should also be use treats with caution. You don’t want to encourage bad habits by dishing out treats at every opportunity while you also need to be wary of the effect that too many treats may have on your dog’s health.
This guide will offer a real quick run through of how treats can be an excellent aid when using positive training methods to encourage your dog to behave and perform in a certain way. It will also round off by reviewing some of the best dog treats currently available for you to buy for your pup and consider how often you should be giving out treats as well as healthy alternatives.
Training Your Dog With Treats
In training, treats are a way to teach your dog that they are doing the right thing. This could mean that they listened to you the first time you gave them a command or they behaved particularly well for a long period of time, I think you would agree both of these behaviors could justify giving your dog a reward. Maybe you are teaching them to come so you give them a treat when the move towards you, slowly but surely your dog will learn that by moving towards you when you ask them to do so will result in a treat and this positive association is how many dog’s can be trained effectively. No matter what you are teaching your pooch, treats are always a method to show them that what they are doing is right.
This is a good thing as your lovable pooch may sometimes need encouragement to listen, especially if it is a difficult task you are asking them to learn. No matter what, treats are always a good reward.
However have you ever considered if the treat you are giving out is actually good for your dog? Is that sweet reward a healthy delight or is it just tasty. We all want the best for our furry friends, so why not consider giving them a healthier treat that is both rewarding for their behavior and rewarding for their bodies.
A treat is small and doesn’t amount to much is what you’re thinking, right? Well, do you ever only give your dog just one treat? No, it is always a couple at a time. If you use these treats for a snack between meals, then the dog is also getting a couple of these multiple times a day. The point is it all adds up, pretty quickly too. That is why you should consider healthier options for dog treats because overtime it will be better for your pooch and can also work out more rewarding for your pocket as well.
Healthy Dog Treats
What is a healthy treat and where do you even start when working out what is good for your dog and what exactly isn’t. This can be easier said than done, we aren’t looking for the products that just say they’re healthy, like many diet sodas claim to be, but real tasty treats that are actually healthy and enjoyable for your dog. Ideally we want something that they like and you can be happy with, knowing they are being given the best possible ingredients that they love.
Well a few things to consider include looking at those that offer the most nutritional value to fewest calories per serving or even treats with the most additional vitamins and minerals to support wellbeing and health. If you are still confused or just want more direction, we break it down a litter further here –
Whatever treats you go for try sticking to the ten percent rule. This means that treats and snacks only make up about ten percent of your pooch’s daily calorie intake. This way they aren’t being overloaded with unnecessary dietary supplements.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that a good natural treat to start with does not need to be bought at a store. Try using fruits and vegetables as a snack or a treat. There is nothing healthier in the store for them than raw, natural fruits and veggies.
If they love it, then you have yourself a winner. Good veggies to try out are chopped carrots, a few green beans, or maybe even some broccoli. These have essential vitamins in them that both dogs and human need. Some fruits that might peak their appetites and get them drooling are bananas, different types of berries, and watermelon or apple slices. Just make sure to take out any seeds you would not eat yourself.
Some things to definitely avoid from the fruits and veggie category are grapes, raisins, onions, chocolate, and most things that contain noticeable caffeine. These things can be toxic to your pooch. Other things to avoid would be hard food. By hard food, we are talking things that sound like a jaw breaker when your dog chomps down on them, this definitely isn’t a treat for either your dog or you having to listen to it!
As any owner is all to aware of you, you want to protect your dog’s oral hygiene just as much as you want to give them a healthy snack. As mentioned above bones, antlers, and hooves are all bad ideas for treats and should be avoided. Some other treats may be deceiving though, and don’t necessarily fall into the good or bad category straight off the bat. Raw hide is exceptionally hard but as it is chewed on, the dog’s saliva makes it rather soft and safe to consume. We try our best to suggest some great options for treats in this guide but we also recommend you do your own research and even talk to your vet for more specifics on what treats can be safe for your dog and their teeth.
Another great option alongside natural fruits and veggies are organic treats. These treats lack a lot of the preservatives that are bad for the health and well-being of your dog that are often found in mass produced dog treats. These can generally be picked up in organic aisles of grocery stores while some pet food stores will have organic treats by the organic food options.
These treats are generally more expensive than other treats but as with any dietary decisions, hopefully down the line you will save on medical bills. That’s the whole goal right – to ensure the health and prosperity of your best friend long into the future.
When Should You Give Your Dog a Treat?
As we hope you’ve discovered by now treats are a great way to train and teach a dog practically anything and can also offer great additional supplements to their daily diet. The trick is to find a treat that does more good than harm and this starts by finding a healthier treat as the section above tried hard to emphasize. The danger in unhealthy treats is thinking that their impact is unimportant or too small to matter but we’ve covered many of these concerns already so now it’s time to focus on when you should reward your dog.
Treats can be a great option for training your dog to reinforce positive actions as well as just rewarding them for good behavior even when you haven’t specifically command them to do something. After all we all love desert every now and then after a evening meal so there is nothing wrong with offering the same to your dog however moderation is the name of the game here.
If you want a review of some great healthy options of dog treats for your pooch look no further. Below is a review of some healthy treats for puppies as well as full grown and senior dogs.
Best Dog Treats Reviewed
GREENIES original dog treats protects your dog’s oral hygiene with its unique texture that cleans the gum line and fights plaque and tartar build up. This means that your dog will have fresher breath – a big bonus for all dog owners out there! This treat has been vet approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council so you know it’s the not kidding about its oral health benefits.
The treats are naturally made and come with easy to digest ingredients that help dogs with sensitive stomachs. They also are nutritionally complete as they contain lots of extra vitamins and minerals that are helpful for any dogs diet. Puppies less than 6 months of age should not be fed these treats as they are supplements for adult dogs. Consult a vet if you wish to feed this to a dog less than one year in age.
It is also important to note that these treats have a whopping 95 calories in each. That is a ton of calories to be giving 2 or 3 at a time. Remember the ten percent rule? It is recommended that you give one of these treats a day to ensure to oral health benefits and avoid overloading the calorie intake of your dog.
This great treat is actually a 7″ jerky stick. Who doesn’t love that? Now, a 7 inch jerky stick may sound unhealthy at first but this stick is turkey jerky. Turkey is a much leaner meat than chicken or beef meaning that it is a healthier substitute not only for you dog but for you as well.
The treat contains no artificial flavoring or contents. It’s all natural meat which makes it healthier too because it does not have any nasty preservatives or additive that will hurt a dog’s body. Still, if the whole thing feels like it’s too much, rip it apart. Why not? The meat is tender enough to easily rip it into a handful of chunks. Plus, that will stretch your dollar a bit further. Another benefit for you as the owner is that because the meat is all natural, it will not leave any greasy smelly residue on your hands.
This means it’s all the more reason to reward your dog with a great Rocco and Roxie Gourmet dog treat. However, be sure not to try a nibble of these jerky sticks. The packaging clearly says that they are not for human consumption as depressing as that may sound because these treat smell absolutely delightful.
Who doesn’t love a hardy meal like potatoes and duck? Well that protein and fiber packed meal comes is small bite sized pieces in the Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dog Treat. The formula is especially tailored to have the least amount of ingredients possible to reduce the chances of food sensitivity. The dog treats are grain free and designed to protect your dog’s health.
There is only one source of protein in the ingredients so you know that it has been artisan crafted to be a better healthier dog treat. The treats are also very cheap too. Do not get the wrong idea though, these are still very healthy for the good pup you are going to be giving it too. It comes with Natural Balance’s confidence promise to create and make dog treats based on sound nutritional science.
This means that behind the scenes is a team of nutritional scientists and dietary veterinarians that create healthy and tasty treats that every dog is bound to love. These treats contain about 30 calories for each treat so it is not that bad, but be mindful of how many you are giving you pooch as that could add up quick. This is also a crunchier treat if you dog prefers something that is not so soft.
This treat is a combination of chicken, beef, and lamb. It comes in small bone shape sizes and is semi-moist in nature. The treat is healthy for dogs older than 8 weeks in age which makes it a perfect treat for training purposes as it can be fed to them practically right away. Plus, the treat is soft enough to be broken into small bite sized pieces for the smaller puppies too.
The Wagg Training Treat is also relatively inexpensive and comes with a satisfaction guarantee just incase. It also has no added flavor or colors and Wagg says, “definitely no added sugars.” Wagg achieve a flavor depth without any additions by oven baking the treat to lock in the flavor profile. The treat has healthy ingredients to supplement any dogs diet.
The company warns though that once the dogs reach adulthood the owner should be mindful of how many treats they are giving the dog and adjust their meals according. This is because this treat is jam packed with protein. So why not give Wagg a try for training your new best friend? The company has specifically designed this healthy and tasty treat for that purpose.
The Soft Snack Happy Mix has a combination of three different types of proteins. It contains chicken, lamb, and salmon with no added sugar to create a healthy snack for your puppy. The Soft Snack Happy Mix also comes in a resealable bucket for easy storage. The treat is fairly small in size so it works best as a training treat for puppies.
Also, because the treat is so small it is perfect for multiple treat sessions throughout the day, unlike other treats that are too big to give often. Many customers actually comment on how perfectly sized the Happy Mix is for watching a dog’s weight while still being able to treat often. One of the best parts is that there is no hassle to break treats in half. It is also well worth the price which isn’t more than a few dollars.
The Happy Mix has a nice appetizing smell that your dog is going to go nuts for. Give the Soft Snack Happy Mix a shot and you will find that it is a great option that your dog is bound to love.