Dog treats are one of a number of ways to reward your dog. While nothing beats love and praise, as far as your best friend is concerned, a reward in terms of a treat has to be right up there. But there are actually a number of different types of dog treats, and that’s the purpose of this particular article.
Dog treats can be used to mark good behaviour or as a teaching aid such as in the learning a new trick. They can be used to disguise a pill for a dog who’s reluctant to take his medication. Or they can be used for positive reinforcement. To keep a reactive dog focused on its handler and distracted from a potential trigger, for example.
Dog treats come in all different forms and all manner of shapes and sizes. And they come in a wider variety of textures, tastes and smells than most people would have thought imaginable.
As the name suggests, training treats are used for dog and puppy training. They generally come in the form of relatively small, easy to digest tidbits. They tend to be small and easy to digest because you might feed a good many treats during a training session in order to achieve a desired effect.
In the case of more difficult or advanced training, these treats might be ‘high reward’ training treats. Treats with a stronger smell, such as dried liver or fish for example. Treats that are likely to keep a dog just that bit more focused than, say, a treat made of banana or carrot. My mixes for liver cake training treats are a prime example of a high reward training treat.
Comfort treats are the kind of longer-lasting treats you give your best friend when you’re going off to work. Or going somewhere that forces you to leave your dog at home for an extended period.
Comfort treats, by their nature, need to comfort your canine friend. They ideally need to last a while. To give them something else to think about other than how long it’s been since they last saw you. To relieve any separation anxiety he or she might be feeling. And, if nothing else, to make you feel a whole lot less guilty for leaving your best friend behind and not taking them with you!
Because people leave their dogs unattended when leaving them with comfort treats, such treats should obviously not pose a choking hazard. So no meaty bones please. They may last a long while, but you should never give your dog a weight-bearing or recreational bone when you’re not going to be there. Just in case a problem arises.
In addition to being long-lasting, any such treat should be size-appropriate. Appropriate for the size of your dog. Not of a size your dog could swallow it whole and potentially choke on it. And certainly not so hard that a smaller dog could fracture or break a tooth on it. An appropriately-sized Kong filled with peanut butter is an obvious choice for a comfort treat.
Because we love you treats
These kind of treats are just about all-encompassing. They’re types of dog treats that have a multitude of purposes. In our house, we give our dogs a treat every time we sit down to a meal. It stops my husband and I feeling guilty because we’re eating and our dogs are not. It removes any potential for a dog to beg at human meal times because it’s being rewarded with a treat. In a dog’s mind, we are eating, they are eating, everyone’s a winner!
And it draws us all together. Wherever in the house our dogs happen to be, as soon as they hear dining chairs being pulled out, they race to be with us because they know there’s going to be a treat on offer.
Similarly, we always give our dogs a treat at bed time. We take them outside for their final toilet break of the night, then give them a treat when they’re settled in their beds and before we say goodnight. Always here there are always two types of treat offered. There’s something scrummy and homemade which is generally consumed in a flash, and there’s a Kong filled with peanut butter which is likely to keep them occupied long enough for us to go to the bathroom and settle down in bed.
Not that our dogs are spoiled or anything. Perish the thought!
Healthy dog treats
Guided by my husband and in-house dog nutritionist, we ensure that every treat we give our dogs is both natural and healthy. That said, some treats are specifically designed for health purposes. Functional treats for the likes of digestive upsets, breath freshening or hip and joint support would fall into these categories. Dog treats that contain the likes of mint, turmeric and alfalfa would fit into the category of dog treats designed specifically to improve dog health.
As you may have gathered, there are many types of dog treats. Many reasons for treating and rewarding your dog. Importantly though, they should all contain 100% natural ingredients as can be found in my dog treat mixes.