a photo of a black, Boston terrier laying in a pile of dog treats

The Benefits of Using High-Value Treats in Dog Training

There is a LOT to be said about the quality and consistency of the treats we choose to train our dogs! If you want to know how to choose the best treats for training your dog this blog is for you.

High-value treats, which are particularly enticing to dogs, can significantly enhance the training process. In this blog, we'll explore the benefits of using high-value treats, specifically focusing on soft treats and freeze-dried treats. We'll also discuss how to strategically use high-value treats for your most pressing training issues while utilizing regular treats, like kibble, for less challenging behaviors.

The Power of High-Value Treats

High-value treats are typically more flavorful and appealing to dogs than their regular kibble or everyday snacks. These treats can capture your dog’s attention and keep them motivated, which is crucial for effective training. Here are some key benefits of using high-value treats:

Increased Motivation and Focus

High-value treats, such as soft treats and freeze-dried treats, are incredibly appealing to dogs. Their rich flavors and enticing aromas can capture and maintain your dog's attention, making them more eager to participate in training sessions.

Enhanced Learning and Retention

Dogs are more likely to remember and repeat behaviors that result in high rewards. Using high-value treats can reinforce positive behaviors more effectively, leading to quicker learning and better retention of commands and tricks.

Positive Reinforcement

High-value treats make for excellent positive reinforcement tools. Rewarding your dog with something they highly desire helps establish a strong association between the behavior and the reward, promoting consistent and desirable actions.

Benefits of Soft Treats

Soft treats are a popular choice for dog training due to their texture and palatability. Here are some specific benefits:

  1. Quick and Easy Consumption - Soft treats can be eaten quickly, which means your dog won’t be distracted for long periods during training sessions. This allows for a smooth and continuous training flow.
  2. Adjustable Size - These treats can be easily broken into smaller pieces without crumbling, making them perfect for frequent rewards without the risk of overfeeding.
  3. Gentle on Teeth - Soft treats are easy to chew, making them ideal for puppies, senior dogs, or dogs with dental issues.

Benefits of Freeze-Dried Treats

Freeze-dried treats are another excellent option for high-value rewards. Here’s why they stand out:

  1. Intense Flavor and Aroma - The freeze-drying process preserves the natural flavors and aromas of the ingredients, making these treats highly appealing to dogs.
  2. Nutritional Integrity - Freeze-drying retains most of the nutritional content of the ingredients, ensuring your dog gets a healthy reward.
  3. Convenience - These treats are lightweight, non-perishable (YAY!), and easy to carry, making them convenient for training sessions at home or on the go.

Strategic Use of High-Value Treats

While high-value treats are incredibly effective, it's essential to use them strategically to maximize their impact:

  1. Most Pressing Issues - Use high-value treats for the most challenging behaviors or when training new behaviors. For instance, if you’re working on recall in a distracting environment, a high-value treat can be a powerful motivator.
  2. Everyday Training - For less challenging behaviors or maintenance training, regular treats like kibble can be sufficient. This helps keep the excitement and value of the high-value treats intact for more critical training moments.
  3. Mixing Treats - Incorporate a variety of treats to keep your dog engaged. For example, you might use kibble for basic cues like “sit” or “stay,” and reserve high-value treats for more complex commands like “roll over” or “leave it.”

Kibble as a Training Tool

Kibble can still be an effective training tool, especially for dogs that are food-motivated:

  1. Frequent Rewards- Using kibble allows for frequent rewards without the concern of overfeeding, making it ideal for long training sessions.
  2. Everyday Cues- Kibble works well for reinforcing basic commands and maintaining established behaviors. If your dog is responsive to kibble, it can be a cost-effective and convenient option.
  3. Combination Approach- Even if your dog responds well to kibble, it’s beneficial to occasionally use high-value treats to keep the training dynamic and exciting, especially for reinforcing particularly challenging behaviors.

Some of my favorite, high value treats for training are:

Zuke's, Red Barn (they have some great, small "log" rolls that can be cut up and a great selection of freeze dried). Pocket trainers are great too! I purchase all of these at Pet Food Express so I can buy just what I need and a variety.

High-value treats, such as soft treats and freeze-dried treats, play a crucial role in effective dog training. Their ability to capture attention, increase motivation, and reinforce positive behaviors makes them invaluable tools. By strategically using high-value treats for the most pressing training issues and regular treats like kibble for everyday behaviors, you can create a balanced and effective training regimen. Remember, the key to successful training lies in understanding what motivates your dog and using that knowledge to reinforce positive behaviors consistently.


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