High-Value Treats for Picky Dogs: Tips, Benefits & Recipes

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Discover the best high-value dog treats for training and behavior modification, along with tips on how to use them effectively and easy homemade recipes you can try today

“High-value” treats are treats that are highly desirable to a dog. They are often used in training and behavior modification because they are more motivating to the dog than regular treats. 

High-value treats are usually more edible, with a strong aroma and flavor that dogs find very tempting. They can be purchased or made home with meat, vegetables, and common household ingredients.

These treats are frequently used to promote positive behavior in dogs and are more likely consumed by picky eaters. Let’s take a look at how to choose the best ones.

brown and white dog biting on a treat

Do High-Value Treats Actually Work?

High-value treats can be a very effective dog training and behavior modification tool. They work because dogs find them highly desirable and are more motivated to work for them.

High-value treats can effectively reward dogs for good behavior, such as sitting or coming when called, and help dogs learn new behaviors or commands. They can help dogs overcome fear, anxiety, or other behavioral issues. 

When used with positive reinforcement techniques, high-value treats can help dogs learn quickly and make training more enjoyable for the dog and the trainer.

Dogs, by nature, are motivated by both affection and food. Pairing voice praise with a high-value treat creates a double-positive association, reinforcing the desired behavior faster.

It’s important to note that high-value treats should be used in moderation and as a supplement to a well-balanced diet. It’s also important to check with your vet before making any changes to your dog’s diet.

When and How to Use High-Value Treats?

Here are a few great ways you could use a high-value treat:

  • Use it as a reward during training sessions for recall and obedience. Some high-value treats, such as freeze-dried meat, can be easily broken into small pieces, making it a perfect reward for your dog when they come when called. You can use it in obedience training for “sit” and “stay” commands.
  • Use it to create a “find it” game. Hide pieces of treats around the house or yard and encourage your dog to find them. This can help improve their recall and make training more fun.
  • Take it with you on walks. Bring a small bag of treats with you on walks and use it as a reward when your dog comes when called. It can help make the recall command more consistent and reliable. Even milk bones are fine for this.
  • Use it as a distraction. If your dog is easily distracted by other dogs or people, use the treat as a distraction. Show them the treat and give them a command such as “watch me” or “look” and then give them the treat as a reward for following the command.
  • Use it as a reward for good behavior. Freeze-dried meat can be used as a reward for good behavior throughout the day to keep your dog motivated to learn and follow commands.
  • Use treats as part of a “treasure hunt” game. Hide food around the house or yard, and let your dog search for it using a specific command.
  • Use them as part of a “recall relay” game. Set up an obstacle course in your backyard or a park, and have your dog navigate through it while being called and rewarded with a treat at the end of each obstacle.

The trick is to keep using different stuff (game and treat) so that each new thing is the best in the world. It’s also important to keep these treats easily digestible so that the dog can finish quickly and you can move on to another command. Keep treats small and break them off if they’re too big, so it’s healthier for the dog.

What Are the Best High-Value Treats for Picky Dogs?

1. Freeze-dried meat (best for recall)

These treats are made from high-quality meats and have a strong aroma that dogs find irresistible. They are also lightweight and easy to carry, making them perfect for recall training on the go.

The freeze-drying process removes the moisture from the meat, preserving its taste and aroma, making it an excellent option for fussy dogs.

Here are a few high-value examples of freeze-dried meat:

  • Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Meat will make your pup feel like a wild animal with its high-quality, all-natural ingredients and grain-free formula. These treats come in various flavors, like chicken, beef, lamb, and fish, so your dog can taste the wild.
    Buy on Chewy.com or Amazon
  • Primal Pet Foods Freeze-Dried Nuggets are a true delicacy for your furry companion. These treats are grain-free from high-quality meats such as chicken, beef, and turkey, making them the perfect snack for your pup’s hunting instincts.
  • The Honest Kitchen Freeze-Dried Meat Clusters are like a gourmet meal for your pup. These treats are made with high-quality, all-natural ingredients like chicken and beef. They come in a resealable bag to keep them fresh.
  • Vital Essentials Freeze Dried Dog Treats are a real feast for your furry friend’s taste buds. These treats are made with the finest, all-natural ingredients like chicken, beef, and fish and will make your pup feel like royalty.
  • Northwest Naturals Freeze-Dried Meat is the ultimate treat for your pup, the high-quality, all-natural ingredients like chicken, beef, and fish and grain-free formula will make your dog feel like it’s hunting in the wild.

When utilizing high-value goodies like freeze-dried meat, it’s vital to gradually phase them out and replace them with lower-value treats as the dog grows more dependable. This will ensure the dog responds well to recall even when high-value goodies are unavailable.

white and brown dog sitting on the ground waiting for a treat

2. Training treats (best for training in general)

Training treats made by companies are an excellent choice for high-value treats because they are made specifically for training, are often high in protein, and come in different flavors, making them very tasty and appealing to dogs. They are also tiny and easy to transport and dispense, making them ideal for training sessions.

Here are some great options of dog training treats:

  • Zuke’s Mini Naturals are like tiny taste explosions for your pup. They are the perfect pocket-sized training treat, made with real peanut butter as the first ingredient, and are small and soft.
  • Wellness Soft Puppy Bites are the ultimate treat for your furry little one. Made with high-quality ingredients like peanut butter and sweet potatoes, these small, soft, and easy-to-chew treats are perfect for young dogs.
  • Blue Buffalo Blue Bits are made with natural peanut butter and are grain-free. These soft texture treats come in a resealable bag to keep them fresh and are perfect for training.
  • Greenies Training Treats are like a treat and a dental chew in one! These treats help to remove plaque and tartar while satisfying your dog’s cravings. They are perfect for training and keeping your dog’s teeth healthy.

3. Fish skin treats (best for the coat)

Fish skin treats are made from the skin of fish. They are high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which can benefit a dog’s skin, coat, and overall health. 

Some good examples of fish skin treat for dogs include:

  • Fish4Dogs Sea Jerky Fish Twists are like a fishy pretzel for your pup. These twirls of fishy goodness are made with 100% natural fish skin and are sure to make your pup’s tail wag with excitement as they sink their teeth into these tasty treats.
  • The Honest Kitchen Ocean Chews are delicious for your pup and are made with 100% natural fish skin. They satisfy your dog’s cravings and are a great alternative to traditional meat-based treats.
  • TickledPet Fish Skin Dog Treats are a fishy fiesta for your furry friend. These delectable treats are made with 100% natural fish skin and will tantalize your pup’s taste buds, making them a perfect reward for good behavior or a delicious snack.

Fish skin treats are generally low in fat and don’t contain grains, making them an ideal option for dogs with food sensitivities or allergies. Beyond just the coat, omega-3s can potentially reduce inflammation in the body and enhance cognitive function, making them an all-around win for your pup.

Soft treats are usually better because they are easier to eat and digest. However, it’s important to check the ingredients and ensure the treat is made with quality, natural ingredients and doesn’t contain any artificial preservatives or by-products. It’s best to consult with a veterinarian to see what is best for your specific dog’s dietary needs and preferences.

Can You Make High-Value Dog Treats at Home?

Yes, it is possible to make high-value dog treats at home. You can make homemade dog treats with ingredients that your dog finds appealing and tailored to their preferences. You also get to control the ingredients and avoid potential allergens or components that could harm your dog.

Here are a few examples of homemade high-value dog treats:

  • Meatballs (using ground beef, chicken, or turkey and add some grated cheese or other high-value ingredients)
  • Peanut Butter Treats (with oats and flour)
  • Freeze-dried Treats (by dehydrating meat slices)
  • Doggy ice cream (by using yogurt, peanut butter, and a banana)
  • Biscuits (using flour, rolled oats, and chicken/beef broth)
  • Homemade jerky (use lean cuts of meat, slice into thin strips, marinate them, and dehydrate them)
  • Dog-friendly cookies (use flour, eggs, and grated vegetables like carrots or sweet potatoes. They can be shaped like bones or other dog-friendly shapes, and you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge)
  • Homemade dog broth (make homemade dog broth using chicken or beef bones, vegetables, and herbs. Avoid onions or garlic as these are toxic to dogs.)
  • Homemade Doggy Popsicles (using chicken or beef broth or pureed fruits and vegetables. Pour the mixture into a popsicle mold and freeze them)
  • Make tuna treats that your dog will love. One can of tuna with water, one egg, and 3/4 cup whole wheat flour. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, then slice or break up into the desired size.

Homemade dog treats are good for dogs and offer a unique opportunity for pet owners to bond with their furry companions. Preparing homemade treats allows you to tailor the ingredients to your dog’s specific dietary needs and preferences and ensures that they are made with high-quality, natural ingredients.

Here are some of the best homemade dog treats to make at home from Ken at McCann Dog Training:

It also saves money and allows you to control the ingredients and avoid preservatives, artificial ingredients, and by-products in commercial dog treats.

What Dog Treats Do Vets Recommend?

Veterinarians may recommend different dog treats depending on the dog’s needs. However, in general, they tend to recommend treats that are:

  • Made with high-quality, all-natural ingredients. Treats made with real meat, fruits, and vegetables and don’t contain fillers, artificial preservatives, or by-products are considered healthier options.
  • Low in calories. Treats low in calories can benefit overweight dogs or prone to weight gain.
  • Grain-free. Grain-free Treats can be beneficial for dogs with food sensitivities or allergies.
  • Suitable for dental health. Treats formulated to promote dental health, such as dental chews, can help remove plaque and tartar and keep teeth and gums healthy.
  • Limited ingredient. Treats made with limited ingredients can benefit dogs with food sensitivities or allergies.

It’s important to note that veterinarians may also recommend specific treats based on your dog’s individual needs, such as treats that are high in protein for dogs that need to gain weight or treats that are low in fat for dogs who are overweight or prone to gaining weight.

Are There Any Natural High-Value Treats?

Natural high-value dog treats include fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh meat, cheese, peanut butter, and freeze-dried meat. These are high in protein, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats, making them the perfect option for dogs.

You can mix all these with other food options, making some tasty yet highly palatable dog treats you can use anytime.

If opting for fresh fruits, always remove seeds or pits as some can be harmful; for instance, apple seeds contain cyanide, which is toxic for dogs.

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