You love your furry friend like a member of your family. And just like a member of your family, you know how important it is to feed them well. Unfortunately, that’s not as easy as it sounds. Choosing from the huge range of kibbles, wet foods, supplements, and treats is no easy task, especially when you’re a new dog owner.

You can’t simply avoid the issues, however. Dog treats are a critical component of training, helping to motivate young or uneducated pooches about what you want – and what’s in it for them. Therefore, finding the right treats to give your dog is a must for any owner. In today’s post, we’ll discuss the general factors to consider when selecting dog treats, the various categories, our top recommendations, and how to use them for training and bonding.

Understanding your dog’s dietary needs

First and foremost, a few basics. Dogs, like humans, have certain dietary requirements. Also like us, they are omnivores, which means that they’re healthiest with a range of meat, grains, and veggies in their diets.

Your dog’s individual preferences and needs may dictate further individualization of their food, which is a question your vet or a pet store employee can help answer for you. In general, though, you should take the following components into account when selecting food and dog treats:

  • How big is your dog? The animal’s size and weight will determine how many calories they should receive. Note that smaller dogs need more calories per pound than larger dogs, while active dogs will need more calories than relatively sedentary ones. Ask your vet for some basic numbers, then factor the calories into your feeding and treats.
  • How old is your dog? Older pets have slower metabolisms, just like older people. You should roll calories back as your dog ages. If you have a middle-aged or senior rescue you’re trying to train, you’ll need to take this into account when using dog treats as motivation.
  • What’s your dog’s breed? Different breeds also require different types of food and treat. Again, a vet is the best source of information for this.
  • Does your dog have any allergies? Unfortunately, most of us learn the hard way whether our animals suffer from allergies. If you notice skin conditions, sneezing, coughing, runny eyes or nose, or repeated scratching or worrying, that could be a sign that something in your dog treats or food is triggering a reaction. Pay attention and take the dog to a vet if needed.

Once you’ve accounted for all of these factors, you should know how many calories your dog needs and by how many you’ll need to reduce their feedings in order to factor in a certain number of training (or “just because”) treats.

Types of Dog Treats

So just what types of dog treats are out there? Between pet stores, online shopping, boutique monthly subscriptions, and more, choosing your dog treats might feel overwhelming. Let’s start with discussing the basic types of treats:

  • Biscuits and baked treats: Here we have your typical milk bones, cookies, and biscuits. These are typically bite-sized, crunchy, and easily chewed and swallowed.
  • Chew treats: Chews take longer to eat. As such, they’re a poor training treat, because you can’t move on. However, they keep dogs busy and are especially important for teething puppies.
  • Training treats: Training treats are usually smaller than regular treats, meant to be dispensed frequently during training sessions and eaten quickly. Some owners choose to use kibbles instead.
  • Dental treats: Unless you brush your dog’s teeth, dental treats are an important consideration. They help clean your pup’s teeth without them even knowing it.
  • Natural and organic treats: Better for your dog and the Earth, many pet owners choose to opt for the increasing range of natural and organic treats out there.
  • Special diet treats: If your dog needs a special diet, you will need to search ingredient lists to ensure dog treats adhere to it.

Note that while your dog might need a special kind of treat – e.g. grain-free or low-fat – that doesn’t mean all dogs need this. It is a myth that every dog should follow a certain niche diet, so let your vet be your guide when it comes to such questions.

Next up: our favorite treats to give your dog. Let’s take a look.

Top recommended dog treats

Milk-Bone MaroSnacks Dog Treats, Beef, 40 Ounce

Milk-Bone Maro Snacks Dog Treats

Indulge your dog’s natural instincts with Milk-Bone MaroSnacks Dog Treats. These savory, crunchy dog treats are more than just biscuits – they offer a delicious surprise with a real bone marrow center. Each bite provides a satisfying crunch on the outside and a meaty flavor on the inside, creating a mouthwatering combination that your dog will love.

Milk-Bone MaroSnacks are not just tasty but also nutritious. They are made with calcium to support your dog’s bone health and only use natural ingredients as sources of color. This means you can feel confident about treating your dog with these snacks, knowing they contribute to their overall health.

Blue Buffalo Health Bars Natural Crunchy Dog Treats Biscuits, Bacon, Egg & Cheese

Blue Buffalo Health Bars Natural Dog Treats

Blue Buffalo Health Bars Natural Crunchy Dog Treats are a favorite among health-conscious pet parents. These delicious biscuits deliver the great taste and satisfying crunch that dogs love, but without the corn, wheat, and soy that are known to cause allergic reactions in some dogs.

Made with the finest natural ingredients, these treats are fortified with omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants, contributing to your dog’s overall health. The ingredients include oatmeal, oat flour, barley, rye, chicken meal, bacon, dried egg product, dried cheese, and flaxseed, which is a source of Omega 3 fatty acids. They also contain carrots, canola oil, oat fiber, calcium carbonate, and salt. The treats are preserved with mixed tocopherols and contain oil of rosemary and a Vitamin E supplement.

GREENIES Original TEENIE Natural Dog Dental Care Chews Oral Health Dog Treats

GREENIES Original TEENIE Natural Dog Dental Care Chews

Greenies Original TEENIE Natural Dog Dental Care Chews are the perfect solution for maintaining your dog’s oral health while also treating them to a delicious snack. Just one Greenies Original Dental Treat a day is all it takes to help clean teeth, freshen breath, and keep your dog happy.

These dental dog breath chews are a delight for dogs, featuring an original flavor and a delightfully chewy texture that effectively fights plaque and tartar. Not only are they irresistibly tasty, but they are also incredibly powerful in promoting oral health. Greenies Treats for Dogs are vet-recommended for at-home oral health care, making them a trusted choice for your pet. These natural dog breath treats are made with highly soluble ingredients that are safe and easy to digest, ensuring they are as gentle on your dog’s system as they are effective in promoting oral health.

PEDIGREE DENTASTIX Large Dog Dental Care Treats Original, Beef & Fresh Variety Pack

PEDIGREE DENTASTIX Large Dog Dental Care Treats

PEDIGREE DENTASTIX Large Dog Dental Care Treats Original, Beef & Fresh Variety Pack are the perfect combination of delicious and beneficial for your dog’s oral health. These treats are more than just a tasty snack – they are an essential part of your dog’s dental care routine. The unique X-shape design and chewy texture of these treats are clinically proven to reduce plaque and tartar buildup. Each treat is designed to scrape away plaque and clean teeth down to the gumline, promoting overall oral health.

But these treats aren’t just about dental care – they’re also about taste. Your dog will love the original, beef, and fresh flavors included in this variety pack. Each treat is a delight for your dog to eat, making dental care a fun and enjoyable experience. When used as part of a daily treating routine, the clinically proven texture of DENTASTIX Treats helps reduce plaque and tartar, contributing to a healthier mouth for your pup. This means you can snuggle up close with your dog without worrying about their breath.

Amazon Brand – Wag Dog Treats Chicken and Waffle Bites

Amazon Brand - Wag Dog Treats Chicken and Waffle Bites

Amazon Brand – Wag Dog Treats Chicken and Waffle Bites are the perfect treat, training aid, or reward for your dog. These delicious bites are designed to be fed as a whole piece or can be easily broken into half or smaller bite-sized pieces, depending on your dog’s preference. The primary ingredient in these treats is chicken, providing a rich source of protein that your dog will love. The addition of rice adds a wholesome grain to the mix, while vegetable glycerin ensures a pleasing texture. The treats are flavored with natural smoke flavor and distilled vinegar, giving them a unique and irresistible taste that your dog will find irresistible.

These treats are also made with your dog’s health in mind. They contain citric acid, a natural preservative that also aids in digestion, and mixed tocopherols, another preservative that also serves as a source of vitamin E. The addition of annatto extract and titanium dioxide adds color to the treats, making them as visually appealing as they are tasty.

Pup-Peroni Original Prime Rib Flavor Dog Treats

Pup-Peroni Original Prime Rib Flavor Dog Treats

Pup-Peroni Original Prime Rib Flavor Dog Treats are the perfect way to give your dog the fresh-off-the-grill flavor they crave. These soft, mouthwatering treats are made with real beef as the number one ingredient, and real Angus steak, ensuring a taste that will tantalize any dog’s tastebuds. The tender texture of these treats makes them easy to break apart, making them suitable for dogs with little mouths, or for training dogs of all shapes and sizes. They’re not just delicious – they’re also a practical choice for training and rewarding your dog.

What sets Pup-Peroni Original Prime Rib Flavor Dog Treats apart is their commitment to quality. These treats are made with no artificial flavors, no fillers, and no FD&C colors, including no Red 40. This means you can feel good about giving your dog a treat that’s not only tasty, but also free from unnecessary additives. Whether you’re training your dog, rewarding them for good behavior, or simply treating them to something special, Pup-Peroni Original Prime Rib Flavor Dog Treats are the perfect choice.

Treats to avoid

There are a few things to avoid in dog treats, including:

  • Foods that are toxic to dogs: Although it’s fine to give your dog the occasional scrap if your vet okays it, there are some foods you should stay away from altogether. While packaged dog treats likely won’t contain these, make sure to study the list before treating them with human foods.
  • Foods your pet is allergic to: Your pet won’t benefit from allergens, of course. Avoid anything that causes a reaction (even a small one, as those can get worse over time).

Using treats for training and bonding

Dog treats are critical as part of training. When you first start teaching your pup to follow commands and do tricks, their primary motivation is typically food-based. As you grow to love one another, your praise will become as good to them as food, and you can back off using dog treats for every training session. Still, treats are good to have around, especially on walks when dogs are likelier to be reactive. As long as you balance treats with regular meals, there’s no reason you shouldn’t continue to give them for the dog’s whole life – even just as a thank-you for being a great pooch!

Dog treats: A recap

The best treats to give your dog, in summation, are the ones that they like and that work well with their body’s needs. Choose all-natural dog treats with limited ingredients, and shoot for quality over quantity, as you should reward freely but not too generously to keep your dog healthy.

And that’s it! Treating your dog doesn’t have to feel like a mystery. If you follow the above instructions, you can cultivate an amazing relationship with a healthy animal for life.