It doesn’t matter if you’re training a puppy freshly weaned from its mama or you’re working with an older poodle you’ve rescued or just need to help with a behavioral issue, treats for poodle training are the perfect tool and help you positively reinforce your dog’s behavior.
Most dogs are highly food motivated and love food, and so the lure of a tasty treat is guaranteed to get them to perform as you wish. However, you cannot just plug your poodle full of treats at every turn when training because the thrill will begin to fade. Not to mention, it won’t do much for your dog’s waistline!
The best thing to do is to find training treats that are healthy and that your dog loves. Taste is incredibly important because it will motivate your dog, but you also need to take a few other factors into consideration. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite poodle training treats below.
Table of Contents
- Using Dog Treats Correctly During Training
- Why You Should Use Low-Value and High-Value Treats
- What Makes Up a Great Treat for Training?
- What to Keep in Mind When Training Treats
- Five Treats for Training Your Poodle
- Wellness WellBites
- Pet Botanics
- Rocco & Roxie
- Don’t Forget Your Training Pouch
- Final Thoughts
Using Dog Treats Correctly During Training
The last thing you want to do when training your poodle with treats is to overfeed your dog. It takes away the motivation, and it can lead to weight gain. It’s also important not to give out treats at the wrong time because this can encourage improper behavior. You really need your dog to make the connection between the appropriate behavior and the reward, so training is successful. Finally, you don’t want your dog to only ever respond to treats, so you need to find a balance between treating as a reward for getting something right and letting your dog know he or she is to respond all the time to the command and not just the treat.
There are several tricks you can use during training to establish the right message, and in some cases, you’ll need to work with your poodle specifically to ensure the message is getting across. Great trainer-dog relationships are built in the early stages of training, so work on bonding with your dog and making the most of training sessions.
Why Should You Use Low-Value and High-Value Treats?
One of the best tricks you can use when training your poodle with treats is to have a mix of low-value and high-value treats.
Low-value treats are used when you get an average response, and high-value treats are saved for those times when you get a perfect response to a challenging or newly learned command.
A mix of high and low-value also guarantees your dog remains interested during the entire training sessions.
What Makes Up a Great Treat for Training?
- Size: Treats should be small or “bite-sized” and able to be gobbled. Smaller treats also tend to be lower in calories.
- Ease of use: Treats should be easy to carry in a pocket or a treat sack, and not be crumbling, greasy, or otherwise messy.
- Healthy: Treats should be treats, but they shouldn’t be junk food or bad for your poodle.
- Delicious: Treats need to taste good! This is entirely subjective, but when you find something your dog adores, use it wisely!
What to Keep in Mind When Training Treats?
- Ease up on regular feedings, so your dog is hungry for treats when training. You don’t you’re your poodle starving, but you also don’t want to overfeed. Treats should make up about 10 percent of any dog’s diet.
- Treats designed for dogs are healthier than table scraps. You can prepare food from scratch specifically for your dog for training if you don’t want to buy pre-made treats, but avoid using your dinner leftovers or things you consider treats for yourself.
- Don’t hesitate to try new treats if your dog stops responding to something. There isn’t the same “grace period” when switching treats that you have to observe when switching food brands for your dog’s regular meals.
Five Treats for Training Your Poodle
There are plenty of great, healthy options out there that poodle’s love for training, but we’ve put together a list of our five favorites:
Zuke’s Mini Naturals are small and mighty when it comes to training. They are healthy, they’re a perfect size and just a little soft and chewy, so they won’t break crumble up. They are also affordable and get great reviews from pups and their owners.
These treats are made from real chicken and contain no added wheat, corn, or soy fillers. They contain real food ingredients sourced from the United States and have also added other elements to supplement with added antioxidants. Zuke’s has a taste dogs love and come in several different flavors, including peanut butter and salmon.
These treats are ideal for training because they are small and easy to chew, so your dog won’t be distracted once he or she is treated.
You can use these treats with a treat bag or put them in your pocket without concern for them ruining your clothes, but they do come in a re-sealable pouch that guarantees freshness.
- Small and easy to chew
- Low in calories
- Not as “high-value” for some dogs, which means they won’t work as hard for them.
Wellness WellBites are a tremendous all-around treat for training. They are healthy, moderately priced, and considered tasty by poodles everywhere. They include ingredients such as veggies, fruits, grains, and two different types of meat in each treat. Meat blends include beef with turkey, turkey with duck, lamb with salmon, and chicken with lamb or with venison.
These treats are 100 percent wheat free and contain no added corn, soy, or artificial colors and flavors. They are a good option for dogs that are allergy-prone. The bites are a little larger than some other training treat options, so we recommend breaking them into smaller pieces.
- The two-meat blend is appealing for dogs
- Larger and need to be broken into small pieces
These treats have a great bacon flavor that dogs adore. Bacon is a vast training reward because dogs find the salty flavor appealing, which means they will work extra hard for this high-value treat.
These treats are made in the United States and contain healthy, wholesome ingredients. They are sized perfectly for training and are low in calories, so they are great for repetitive rewards during challenging training sessions. They contain no artificial preservatives, no BHT, BHA or soy. The ingredient list does include vegetables, flax-seed, and salmon oil, the latter two of which are great for your poodle’s coat and help ease skin inflammation.
- Perfect training size
- Low in calories
- Contain fresh, whole ingredients
- Can be tough to find
Jerky is loved by poodles everywhere because of its meaty texture and salty flavor. These treats from Rocco & Roxie tend to be on the pricier side, which actually makes them great for training because you need to be careful with what you are doling out.
Is the cost worth it?
Absolutely! The average poodle will do just about anything to eat these tender and delicious bites of meat. They are made in America and contain no wheat, corn, soy, or gluten. The process of making these jerky treats includes 15 hours of smoking. They have a look and feel of regular beef jerky and honestly smell good enough for humans to eat!
Jerky treats are seven inches long like regular jerky, but they are easy to divvy up into bite-sized portions. They actually tear apart, and you can make them extra small, which is excellent for giving your pup just a tiny taste and encouraging him or her to work harder for a more massive chunk of meat. They are low in calories and high in protein, which means you’ll be giving your dog something healthy and nutritious with each training sessions.
- Taste great and dogs love them
- Low calorie
- Quality ingredients
Purebites are the ideal training treat. They are liver flavored and are high in quality, taste, and flavor. Most dogs consider these high-value rewards and will do just about anything to get a taste. They are made from 100% natural, USDA inspected beef liver, and they contain no gluten and are grain-free with no fillers.
Each treat is ten calories, but they are large enough to be broken into smaller portions that are easier to eat and ensure your dog won’t get too much during training sessions. You get these treats delivered to your door freeze-dried, so you know you are getting a very healthy and fresh option for training.
- Healthy and made from beef liver
- High-value treat with great flavor
Don’t Forget Your Training Pouch
One of the most important tools you can have when training your poodle is a treat pouch. Your other option is to store treats in your pocket, which can damage clothing, and it limits what you can wear when training.
Training pouches make it easy to access treats quickly. Donning your pouch can also be an indication to your pup that it’s time to start working and focus on your instructions because high-value treats are on the way!
There are plenty of training pouch options out there, but we like ones that are worn around the waist and stay open, so you aren’t fiddling with zippers or other closures during training. You also want something that is sturdy and will last a long time, even if it’s out in the elements or gets beat up over the years. Finally, you’ll want to get a training pouch that is machine washable, so you can toss it in every now in then and clean out the stale crumbs that tend to accumulate.
- Pet Safe Premier Pet Treat Pouch: Features two different areas for dividing high-value and low-value treats for easy access. Available in red, black, or blue.
- Kurgo Go Stuff-It Dog Treat Bag: Easy to care for and closes with a drawstring, this training pouch gives you room for treats and a few other items that you might need during training sessions. It also features a carabiner so you can attach it to your belt.
Training your dog is important because it helps you to get control of certain behaviors, but it should also be a fun bonding experience for both of you. Training is one of the primary ways to build a solid relationship with your dog and establish trust between the two of you. Knowing your dog will respond as directly can make a world of difference when it comes to your overall relationship. Not to mention, it makes keeping your dog safe and happy much easier.
Hopefully, our suggestion have given you some ideas on what to look for in a training treat and made it easy for you to try a few different options. Dogs, like humans, have different tastes, and different dogs respond to different treats differently. Your poodle’s taste might change over time, too, and a treat he or she has always loved might one day fall out of favor. The good news is it’s easy to find something new and switch things up once in a while. It’s important to keep your dog interested in training and responding to what you are offering. For many dogs and owners, this is the key to successful training over the years.