How your puppy behaves in your presence, especially when around your friends and family, does matter. It can make you feel proud when they behave well. So it is necessary to impart some behavior refinements to get them to be obedient. Treats are powerful aiding tools for training your puppy.
Motivation and consistency, along with the use of treats, play key roles in a successful training journey.
Overuse of treats that may lead to unhealthy weight gain is prohibited in dogs. An estimated 54% of dogs are overweight, and the main reason for this obesity is the unlimited use of treats. Therefore, it is important to consider the dietary needs of the dog when choosing a reward regimen for your pet. Let’s explore the rewarding process and understand how to choose dog treats while considering their impact on your dog’s health.
Related: How to phase out treats when dog training
Differences Between Puppy Treats and Food
When we are talking about puppy food, it should be a complete formula with a balanced amount of all nutrients, like minerals, fats, and proteins. Their growth rate solely depends on a balanced diet. Pups need their mother’s milk for up to 6 weeks. With growing age, when they reach the age of 4 weeks, only mother milk is enough for their growth. Starting with a moist feed is a great choice for your pups. Milk is a whole diet for your puppy until weaning.
When your puppy is growing, it needs extra nutrients for weight gain, skeleton development, teeth, and bone growth. Pups eat foods with balanced nutrients that help them gain thick and shiny hair coats and make them active and playful. At 6 months of age, they should be fed 2 to 3 times a day to complete their nutritional requirements.
In contrast to puppy food, treats are treats that cannot replace food but are used as training aids. By acting as a form of positive reinforcement, treats help train puppies. Treats are super tasty and flavorful to attract the puppy’s attention. But it lacks balanced nutrition and is composed of simple ingredients. Treats aren’t meant to help puppies gain weight, get healthier, or grow faster. Their primary objective is to use their favorite foods to improve training.
See: How to train a dog that is not food motivated
What Treats Can I Give My Puppy?
Here we will discuss some types of dog treats that we can offer to our puppy during the training process and what the criteria for their selection are.
Commercially Available Treats
Commercially available treats are formulated to meet the specific nutritional needs of growing puppies. These treats are a good option for your puppy because they typically list the nutrient values on the packaging, giving you valuable insights into the ingredients used. By following the provided nutrient values, dog parents can make portions of treats according to their puppy’s requirements.
It should be chosen based on puppy size and breed. A larger puppy needs big treats, while a smaller puppy needs small treats. Treats selected without considering the needs of the dog will lead to excessive weight gain in dogs, which is not favorable for your dogs.
Low Energy Treats
Low-energy treats are a good choice for your puppy. Treats are not meant to fulfill their nutritional needs but to only satisfy their taste. Low-energy treats are selected to prevent excessive weight gain in puppies.
Treats rich in nutrients like vitamins and minerals are beneficial for puppies and help to strengthen skeleton development.
Home-cooked treats are always good for your puppy. It will not harm your puppy’s health. Cooked chicken, peanut butter, blueberries, frozen pumpkin, vegetables, and fruits are some types of safe treats. Puppies love to eat apples and bananas, but you should avoid grapes, as they are harmful to their digestive system and kidneys.
Some puppies adore playing with toys. There are different chewing toys available that not only enhance their excitement but also help to clean their teeth. Playtime is a good reward for puppy training.
How Many Treats Per Day For a Puppy?
Your puppy in the growing phase needs all the essential nutrients for its growth. So, there are two main factors—the growth stage and size of the puppy—that affect the treat selection. You can offer extra treats to your young puppies to fulfill their nutritional needs. You can take a part of their food to provide them with as a treat.
Related: What age is best to start leash training a puppy?
The number of treats per day depends on the calories present in a specific treat. Calorie intake from treats should not be more than 10%. You can utilize low-calorie treats like carrots, bell peppers, and beans that won’t change their calorie intake. A different approach to strengthening your bond with your dog is to spend time with them. Play is also a treat; you can reward them with play when they are getting trained.
Smaller treats are useful to maintain calorie intake during training. Break the larger treats into smaller parts to avoid an overburden of calories.
How Many Treats Are There For an Adult Dog?
Once the dog has attained their optimal weight, which is 90%, they are shifted to a maintenance diet. This happens at the age of 9–12 months. Their treats should be adjusted according to their body requirements. The 10% rule is commonly used for dogs; it explains that you can only give 10% of their daily diet as a treat.
An adult dog requires fewer treats as compared to puppies because they are not growing rapidly. The number of treats depends upon the size, age, activity level, and health status of the adult dog.
Treats of choice for your puppy
Calories needed by dogs vary with the dog’s age. You must be aware of the dog’s calorie needs before selecting the treats. It can be calculated by considering the body condition score. For this purpose, you can consult a veterinarian, who can guide you better about the body condition score and daily calorie needs of your dog.
Following Important Points in The Selection Of Treats
- See the feed bag for nutrient values to calculate the calories. These values are mentioned in the form of kcal units.
- Calculate the daily calorie intake of your dog so that you can identify how much kcal can be given as a treat daily.
- Be cautious in adjusting calorie intake; it should not be more than 10% or less in an amount that your dog becomes deprived of nutrients.
Healthy Dog Treats
Cheese is one of the best examples of a high-calorie treat. It contains high calories and can be used occasionally by dogs as a treat. Vegetables, fruits, grains, and meat as treats are some healthy options for dogs. Cucumbers, carrots, certain beans, and asparagus are a few low-calorie treats that can be given to dogs as treats. When your dog isn’t motivated by vegetables, you can alternatively choose low-calorie treats with meat flavor. Avoid artificial flavors and artificial preservatives used in treats.
As a treat, you can also take a portion of their normal food; it will be regarded as a treat by your dog. You may control their calories within a certain range by using this strategy, preventing them from becoming obese. Therefore, selecting healthy treats for dogs should be your top priority.
Tips for Choosing the Right Treats For Your Puppy
- Choose treats that are soft in consistency and easy to chew for your young puppy. Select treats with a high protein value that are beneficial for the puppy’s growth.
- Avoid artificial coloring, undesirable flavors, and unnecessary preservatives that can affect your puppy’s health.
- Match calorie intake with their lifestyle and prevent overuse of calories.
- Don’t use treats that have some negative effects on puppy health.
- If your puppy shows problems with the use of some treats, discuss this with your veterinarian.
- They will guide you about treatment selection for puppies based on their health status.
- Treats rich in fat and sugar are not recommended for puppies.
- Use single-ingredient treats when your puppy has some sort of digestive problem.
- You can use human foods as treats for your puppy that are not toxic.
- Avoid chocolates, grapes, onions, and garlic as treats.
- Always check the ingredient profile when using ready-made treats.
Advantages of Dog Treats
- Dental health: Some treats are specifically designed for puppies to improve their dental health.
- Source of motivation: Treats are a great source of motivation for your dog. It will keep your puppy engaged and eager to learn during training.
- Strengthening the bond: Treats help to improve communication with your dog; they listen to you carefully as they want to get rewarded.
- Pleasing dogs: Treats make dog training sessions more enjoyable; they feel good to have treats and, in return, start pleasing you.
- Enhance confidence: Treats encourage the dogs to learn new techniques and accept the challenges.
- Managing stress: Treats offered during training are very helpful to reduce stress levels in the training environment. Lower the anxiety that puppies could experience during the training.
- Positive Enforcement: Dogs repeat behavior that earns them a tasty reward by acting as a positive reinforcer.
Treats are highly beneficial for developing desired behaviors in puppies. It helps to motivate them, please them, and act as a positive reinforcer. When dealing with your puppy, don’t dare spoil them with treats. Depending on the calorie amount of a desired treat, the size of the treat is decided.
Your puppy will prefer a treat whenever it is offered, regardless of the size of the treat. Calorie-rich treats should be divided into smaller portions. while low-calorie treats can be served in the desired quantity. Even a pea-sized treat is enough to stimulate them. The selection of the treats always depends on the puppies’ likeness and what foods seem appealing to their taste. In this way, your dog receives positive reinforcement without becoming overweight.
Dr. Attia Awais -Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM)
(Islamia University Bahawalpur)
M.Phil Microbiology (University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences Lahore)
I am a passionate veterinarian with a deep love for dogs and a strong commitment to their well-being. My expertise in veterinary medicine, combined with my genuine affection for dogs, uniquely qualifies me to write informative and insightful articles about these beloved companions. Whether it’s topics on dog health, behavior, or care, I’m dedicated to providing valuable insights to fellow dog lovers.
AREAS OF Expertise
- Dog and Wellness
- Canine Behavior and Training
- Nutrition and Dietary Requirements for Dogs
- Infectious Disease Management in Dogs