Perfect rewards for tiny tums!
You wouldn’t think getting treats for your puppy would be that complicated! But, step into the pet shop – or visit their website – and you will be bombarded by range upon range of puppy treats! These treats come in a variety of textures, flavours, and supposed benefits. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the choice. The more you shop around, the more conflicted you may become. Treats marketed towards training are somehow even more confusing! So we have come up with a few favourite options based on our 3 ‘S’ rule – small, soft, stinky.
As your puppy only has a tiny tummy at the moment, you don’t want to fill them full of treats. This is where ‘small’ comes into its own – we aim for the size of a pea! Having little treats allows for lots of reinforcement opportunities without your puppy getting full…or bored. Some treats can be easily broken into tiny pieces, others not so much. These “Soft Bite” treats from Forthglade can be broken up into very small pieces with ease.
Top Tip! If you don’t want to spend hours breaking treats up, getting a mini food chopper can save your fingers the work!
Soft treats are also easy to swallow. They don’t need to be crunched like hard treats. This means you can do more repetitions in your training session. When the treat goes down quickly, the puppy is looking for the next one just as fast! If your pup is a bit nervous, soft treats are often easier to manage than tough ones – particularly useful in distracting environments when your puppy might find it hard to focus on the arduous job of chewing. JR Pet Products PURE pate is a brilliant option (and probably our favourite bought treat). Pure meat, in a variety of flavours, with only one ingredient!
Top Tip! You can also make your super soft treats by gentle boiling or very lightly frying meat, such as turkey. Plus you get peace of mind knowing exactly what goes into your puppy’s treats.
Your puppy’s sense of smell is significantly better than yours. Having treats with an appetising (to dog’s) smell means they are more likely to try and earn the reward. Foods like cheese or hot dog sausage are super stinky to pups. Extra helpful when practising scent work or training outdoors. Something super tasty and aromatic is more likely to be wanted in very exciting places – perfect for improving your dog’s recall. Feelwell treats come in different flavours and the liver treats are extra fragrant.
Top tip! Having the option of swapping between high- and low-value treats keeps your training sessions more engaging. Smelly treats are great for surprising your puppy with and motivating them when distractions in the environment get bigger.
You can use some of your little one’s daily food allowance for training. It doesn’t matter if you feed fresh, raw, wet, or dry – you can use some of their meal for training. Squeeze tubes can be filled with paste-like food and are easily available from camping shops or places you’d buy sun cream. Or you can invest in a silicone training pouch and some disposable gloves to give tiny bits of food as pup’s reward. Bear in mind that their normal food might be enticing at home, but you’ll need something small, soft, and stinky when taking training on the road.