Food Reward Ideas

The selection of dog “treats” on store shelves is overwhelming. How do you choose? Look for ones that are made mostly of real meat. Choose ones with a limited number of ingredients, minimal additives, and ones that are made in Canada or USA.
Dogs are carnivores but are able to healthily digest a variety of foods. Wholesome “human food” can be used for rewards in life and training. Here are some types of foods to consider.

Low Level Rewards

For when you are training at home, in low distraction environments, or for behaviours that your dog is close to fluency on.

  • Your dog’s regular dry kibble food
  • Kibble with a touch of YUM! Daily kibble can be turned into a more powerful motivator by measuring out your dog’s daily allotment of dry food and putting it into a container or bag and tossing it with a few morsels of strongsmelling treats such as cheese, roast beef, chicken, etc.
  • Many crunchy biscuit type treats

MID Level Rewards

Use in moderation to keep daily nutritional requirements in balance.

  • Cat food or cat treats
  • Breakfast cereal such as Cheerios
  • Cut up vegetables or fruit such as carrots, lettuce, apples, berries, etc.
  • Snack foods such as popcorn, crackers, corn chips, etc.
  • Roll type soft dog food cut up into small cubes (Rollover, Natural Balance)
  • Packaged store bought treats
  • Cooked pasta, tortellini

HIGH Level Rewards

Use these in high distraction environments, training a new behavior, behavior modification, or when you want your dog to really value doing things with you.

  • Roast chicken or beef, etc.
  • Dried sardine treats
  • Boiled, baked or dried organ meats such as chicken hearts, livers, beef tongue or heart
  • Homemade liver or tuna “brownies” made with pureed meat, eggs and binding ingredient such as rice flour. Spread thin on a sheet and bake.
  • Homemade peanut butter or pumpkin cookies
  • Cheese (the smellier the better?)
  • Hot dogs cut up and microwaved on paper towels
  • Pepperoni or natural deli meats cut into teeny tiny smidgeon sized pieces (it’s the smell that counts!)
  • Egg omelet cut up
  • Peanut butter, liver pate, cream cheese, yogurt, or baby food. By the spoonful or in a squeeze tube (may be purchased at an outdoor store).