Our Favorite Treats

Last week I talked about tug toys. But what about cookies!? We use play as a big training reward, but we also use a lot of cookies.

For a long time, I’ve been in allergy dog treat mode. That is, if I read the label and Silas can actually eat it, I buy it. Finally I decided that enough is enough. I’m tired of going all over town to buy Silas’s treats. I’m tired of always feeling like we’re running out of treats, because there are five open bags with two cookies left in each one. So, I’ve started keeping bulk quantities of his favorites. I keep a large variety of treats because 1) I can and 2) I need to match any protein-based treat to Silas’s rotational diet.

In reality, we use two kinds of cookies. I like training treats to be extremely small. A wise dog trainer once told me that dogs do not care how big the bite is; they care how many they get. Also, a fast-paced training session could easily use up the majority of Silas’s daily calorie allotment if I’m using big treats. That’s why so many people use their dog’s kibble to train, but that isn’t really a luxury we have. Because tiny training cookies are more of a “gulp and move on” item, I also keep some bigger snack-sized cookies. Silas gets a snack cookie when we leave him home alone, and he usually gets a few snack cookies around 5:00. His stomach seems a little better if he gets some “filler” in the afternoon.

These are what I’m keeping on hand right now:

Silas's favorite dog treats. Honest Kitchen, Ziwipeak, Cloudstar, Orijen, Smiling Dog

Small Training Cookies: 

Honest Kitchen Quickies.

Cloud Star Itty Bitty Buddy Biscuits, Peanut Butter or Cheese & Bacon flavors. (I break these in half for training.) These are not grain free, but Silas doesn’t seem to have a problem with grains.

Silas-approved kibble, usually something I’ve gotten as a sample-sized bag. Fromm Pork and Peas, Zignature Turkey (not pictured), or Pure Vita Turkey. Because Silas doesn’t get kibble, he thinks it’s pretty good stuff.

Ziwipeak Daily Dog Venison and Fish. Doubles as higher-value training treats and the occasional backup meal.

I also dehydrate turkey liver and turkey heart into small training treats. (not pictured)

Snack-Sized Cookies: 

Primal Venison Lung Puffs.

Cloud Star Grain Free Original Buddy Biscuits, Peanut Butter or Cheddar flavor.

Honest Kitchen Beams. (not pictured)

In Betweeners: 

Orijen Wild Boar freeze dried treats. These can be broken up in a limited way for training treats, but mostly I use them for tempting Silas to eat when he’s in one of his phases or for delivering tablet-style medications.

Smiling Dog Freeze Dried Pork treats are really high value for Silas. They are simultaneously too large and too apt to reduce themselves to dust, but I keep them for special situations, like training at the park.


What are the best treats at your house? How many do you keep on hand?

13 thoughts on “Our Favorite Treats

  1. We’ve got a strangely similar list due to my own food allergies.

    My trainer keeps a bucket full of extra treats for class in case anyone runs short or finds they are paying too cheaply, which is where I first encountered the smiling dog treats. I can’t speak to the pork ones, but the duck and orange treats smell really, really good–like duck with orange sauce for humans–and Nala loves them. I have to admit, I bought them just so we could have one really good treat that doesn’t make me or my pockets smell like animal organs. I’ve been meaning to try other varieties–I think I’ve even seen a turkey one.

    We made the non-crumbly treats from Eileenanddogs for class last week. As advertised, I’ve never had such a pristine treat bag before or since. They would have been easy to make if my egg allergy hadn’t forced me to throw off the measurements a bit.

    I also keep leftover chicken on hand cut up into tiny pieces to use for whatever we’re counter conditioning. First it was a very mild resource guarding tendency. Then some minor paw handling. Now it’s collar grabs and a little bit of muzzle handling. After this, I think we’ll tackle nail trims, since her nails are getting out of control, but I’m procrastinating because I don’t know her history or whether clippers or a dremel would be preferable, but I’d like to shoot for an upside down settle a la kikopup.

    Between my allergies and her jaws, the hardest thing to find are safe, long lasting chews. I imagine you guys have similar difficulties, albeit mitigated by Silas’s raw diet. Nala just cheerfully consumed something that was barely food, all because I can’t give her the smoked beef knuckles with which my local stores are overflowing.

    I always think of y’all when I see pork foods, and my local stores have a lot of sample bags of the new Orijen single ingredient kibbles.


    1. Pork is suddenly easier to find than turkey, for some reason. I’ve been meaning to nab a bag of the new Pork and Pear kibble. Silas doesn’t do well on kibble long-term, but he’s pretty happy to take it for training treats. Sample bags are perfect, since I worry about going through even a small bag before it goes off.

      We can’t find good chews, either. Silas thinks raw meaty bones are crazy, otherwise we could do okay between pork and venison. I finally gave up and let Silas have antlers. I don’t like for him to have the whole ones, but the splits seem soft enough. I’d rather him have those than rawhide-like objects. He also has a peanut butter flavored Nylabone that he goes through phases with. I’m not wild about him digesting little bits of plastic, but it is what it is. Clean Run sells turkey feet that I had high hopes for, but Silas ate the first one in five minutes and then hasn’t wanted another one.

      Your “I don’t want to smell like organs” is why I like the little buddy biscuits, but they are wheat-based. That’s also what I like about those Cheese Please treats that I sent you–the clerks at our pet store used to talk about eating the Cheese Please treats themselves.

      I also like this recipe from Kol’s Notes (although again with the egg): http://kolchakpuggle.com/2012/03/tasty-tuesday-easy-peasy-dog-treats.html, if you have a canned food you can use.


  2. There aren’t any treats I buy consistently. We have the luxury of no food allergies, so I can pick something up without thinking too much about it (I do still look at ingredients, and country of origin, that kind of thing). In general, Elka LOVES freeze dried treats, and the liver ones we most recently got for review were a big hit.

    Frequently, though, I find myself using “people food’. Leftover beef. Chicken. Pork. Hot dogs. Cheese (cheese is probably Elka’s #1). In the house, she’ll take veggies as a treat, but not on walks. Same with pepperoni, of all things.


    1. Honestly, I would prefer to feed Silas more human food, but he is a weirdo. He doesn’t really love cheese (except for Parmesan) or hotdogs. The behaviorist went to a lot of trouble to buy him some turkey deli meat, and he was all “Umm? No?” I think leftover meat bits is generally a great idea, but I don’t cook meat at home and very rarely have it in restaurants. So, we’re stuck with purpose-built dog treats.


  3. My favorite rewards for my little guys are cat kibble. It’s little and it must have a fantastic smell because it is their favorite and I don’t have to worry about too many calories.


  4. Good selection! I used to cut up the dried chicken strips into little pieces for training because they are so low calorie & tasty. We don’t do much training anymore so I tend to just have a selection of freeze-dried treats on hand for the odd circus dog session.

    There’s a bunch of treats in the car though because Norman hates getting in so I put one on the seat to lure him in and then a couple more once he’s in. Then of course Kaya gets one too. I bought these 100% beef jerky ones because they smell strong. They like the Wellness lamb jerky ones too.

    The dogs aren’t big fans of cookie type treats but they eat them if a cashier dishes them out.


    1. That’s clever, keeping the treats in the car. Now that it’s less hot here, I think I could get away with it myself.

      Those Wellness Jerky treats are good. I used to buy the venison ones sometimes, and only stopped when we started keeping Ziwipeak in the house. I didn’t need two kinds of venison jerky.


  5. Fruitables are a big hit around here. (Daisy loves fruit, especially peaches and blueberries.) They work for most kinds of training, except “busy outdoors” situations and agility training. For those, it’s cut up meat and cheese or homemade turkey meatballs. Jumps will only be practiced for really smelly things. When we come in, it’s traditional “cookies” (we have a ton of Bocce’s Bakery stuff lying around right now because Mom’s dogs didn’t want them) as a reward for sitting and waiting patiently. Luckily, she’s typically not picky about treats, so whatever I have on hand can be a reward. I can’t imagine dealing with food allergies, too!


    1. Silas is hilarious with fruitables. He doesn’t have a lot of experience with soft chewy treats, because they usually aren’t allergy-friendly. So, when I handed him his first fruitable, he bit in to it, then he proceeded to chew it for at least a minute. Needless to say, not an effective training treat around here!

      Silas is both picky and has food allergies. So not funny.


  6. Treats! Low to medium value are Honey Rice Puffins cereal (not crazy about the sugar, but they are cheap and I’m treating 5 dogs), Charlee Bears, and a variety of little ones from the bulk aisle at the feed store. For medium to high, it’s Pet Botanics training treats (more sugar, ugh) and dried lamb lung. The super high value rewards are hot dogs, whatever random pieces of meat I can scrounge together, and dehydrated liver. I still don’t have a dehydrator but I (and my wallet) need one.

    For treat dispensing toys, I use kibble. Right now it’s Nature’s Variety Raw Boost because I had a coupon.

    Those are the basics, but I’m always buying new ones to try.


    1. It seems like in your area you should be able to find a good dehydrator second hand. They were briefly in vogue amongst raw food people and vegans.

      I think most treat-dispensing toys are really designed for kibble. We have one or two that really don’t work with anything else, most notoriously the Buster Cube. The big reason I shelled out for two of the Nina Ottosson toys is that they have big-enough places for the treats. (And I knew Silas wouldn’t tear them up.)


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