Finding a treat that your DINOS™ is willing to work for, especially around distractions, can be tough. The “sure thing” treat that one dog finds rewarding, might get the cold shoulder from the next dog.
Back when I helped out at reactive dog training classes, we’d do taste tests to see which treats the dogs were willing to pass up vs. gobble down. We found that freeze-dried raw treats were consistently a bigger hit than soft training treats and often more popular than fresh chicken or cheese.
I like to use Stella and Chewy’s Freeze Dried Raw patties (broken into little pieces) when I know I need to bust out the big guns to help Boogie get through a potentially stressful moment. I never give him those treats at any other time, so they retain their novelty. That works for Boogie, but I know that every dog is different, so I called on Team DINOS for a list of their favorite high value treats.
If you’re still searching for that magic treat that your dog will love or you want to try something new, here are some great ideas from the team:
Brandi C. Squeeze cheese!
Krissii F. Tennis balls!
Stephanie F. Lickety Sticks!
Barbara L. Chicken breast – she prefers the prepackaged kind – or string cheese.
Laurelin S. Cheese (string or cream), buffalo liver or sweet potato!
Jo J. Bread and butter; dismembered natural gummy bears; bonito flakes.
Paula K. My dogs’ favorites have turned out to be thinly sliced hotdogs microwaved until they are curly and crispy! And for dogs not motivated by food: I had a dog in one of my classes who was not food motivated, so I asked the dog’s owner what was the dog gaga for at home and he answered “the feather duster”. I said, bring it in, and the dog worked for the chance to maul that duster ( it was pink, and the owner was a former Marine)!
True Dog Tricky Trainers Salmon Flavor Cloud Star Treats, Buddy Biscuits Lamb flavor Treats, Bil-Jac Liver flavor, wet dog or cat food in a small dish, couple licks as a reward.
Marie N. Freeze dried chicken. It’s like crack to her.
Alexis B. Red Barn! And the number-one-trumps-everything-on-this-earth thing is carnivore diet from the zoo – my husband works at the zoo and sometimes brings this home, it is mostly raw horse meat which is apparently more delicious than anything else on earth.
Pia R. Freeze Dried Chicken!
Julia K. Lane Liver Brownies from the Liver Lady in Woodstock, IL!Karen C. Any food. Especially roast chicken, string cheese, bacon.
Judy M. Diced Natural Balance food logs!
Star F. Natural Balance food rolls are always a big hit.
Deb M. Try a fox tail tied to a 2- 2 1/2 ft length of clothesline. Stick it in your back pocket and haul out for a quick rewarding game of tug. Training your dog to be both food and toy motivated is the best!
Noelle B. For Brewster, if anything is going to get his attention, hot dogs will. But not even that works with a really intense distraction. Other things that work most, but not all the time, are chicken, cheese, and Zuke’s Mini Naturals.
Stacy S. Riddick’s Treats (bison liver treats are like crack to them)
Marge R. I hate to say it (and I blame my friend Eileen) – sausage, egg and cheese biscuit. What can I say? He gets to choose what is most reinforcing.
Bev R. Anything that squeaks for my girl. Anything they can tug on for both, especially anything that resembles a flirt pole type thing, tug toys, Orbee ball, but food…nothing..they just are not food motivated.
Sheri-Lyn P. Chicken every time!
Sadie B. Some dogs are reluctant to eat when there are distractions or they are stressed. In these situations I would work with very high value food (cheese, etc), toys or even environmental rewards (although that is more difficult to employ practically). My girl finds it aversive to have to stop and eat a treat when belting round an agility course, so a retrieve or game of tug is our reward of choice then the fun doesn’t have to stop!
Laurie W. Canine Carry Outs! Easy to find and inexpensive.
Kristel S. Frozen meatballs, pieces of roasted chicken or salmon-flavored Zukes are Murphy’s favorites:-)
Johnny H. The Disc (frisbee) is my dogs highest value distraction. I don’t have them lying around the house, so he never gets them to play with. At 5pm every day, he knows it’s time for him to go to work. I don’t even need the disc now to use it as a distraction trigger. There is nothing that can redirect his brain over the disc – not a dog or dog altercation, motorbike, squeek toy – nothing brings him out of disc mode until I say “mine now” and put it away.
Elisabet N. Freeze dried beef liver, and cat food.
Juli T. Walking – Casey is so uninterested in food that when we are anywhere more interesting than our living room, not even nice smelly pepperoni or peanut butter will get her attention. Moving – preferably at a fast pace – is her reward.
Kristen B. Toby is all about cut up Natural Balance rolls. He chooses them over one of his typical favorite treats of peanut butter.
Rebecca C. Squeaky tennis ball for one dog. Target\Archer Farms chicken, spinach sausage does wonders for my other dog.
Angelina W. Vienna sausages!
Dawn F. Cut up hot dogs and string cheese!
Jackie D. Home-dried liver, smoked cheese, barbecue chicken, liver sausage…
Jennifer N. Only in extreme situations and VERY TINY bits: Lay’s Stax potato chips! It’s the most insane reaction I’ve ever seen. Even for just a tiny speck of chip, Jacks will focus so hard on it he sees or hears nothing else. Even if he can just smell it, he’s completely focused. Mia isn’t food motivated at all, but anything that squeaks is her addiction…
Jennifer B. Shady Brook cooked turkey meatballs..doggy crack!
Jenifer R. My dog who used to be HIGHLY leash reactive would turn himself inside out for Gorgonzola if he could!
Linda E. My three porties will eat anything put in front of them! They like Natural Balance in the tubes and it’s relatively easy to use. Their favorite is the one I make from scratch and is super simple: Put the six ingredients (2 cups spelt flour, 1-2 cups Quick Oats or Regular Oatmeal, 1/2 tsp salt (optional), 1tsp baking POWDER, 1 can sardines & 1-3 Tbsp Asian Fish Sauce (optional)+ a little olive oil) into the food processor, grind/ pulse, spread 1/4 to 1/2″ on a cookie sheet, heavily oiled with olive oil & bake. Slow bake @ 300 degrees for 30-40 minutes. I use a pizza cutter to score the treats to size, flip them over & bake for another 30-40 minutes until crisp. Much healthier and less costly! I do the sardines first, with some olive oil to make a paste, then add the dry ingredients. I’m a huge user of go tubes filled with premium duck or rabbit canned dog food. Very easy to use, carry and doggies just lick it up! These have worked the best for me in the dog to dog aggression area!
Susan C. Any food.
Brooke P. Definitely cheese. Cookies also keep my Pom occupied with chewing, rather than reacting while we’re passing tough triggers. He’s a very slow chewer, so it works out. By the time he finishes his cookie, the trigger is long gone.
Ann W. Peanut Butter. I fill one of the little Tupperware midgies, put the lid on, and when I need to get past some other dogs on the trail, I pull the lid off and let my dog lick at it until we’re past.
Ashley C. Deli rare roast beef and/or a squeeze tube of liver paste.
Rebecca A. I’m lucky my reactive guy is both toy and food motivated. He goes absolutely nuts for any toy with a squeaker, so I have a small Wubba Kong that we can tug on past any distraction. But if I need a calmer response (so as not to trigger another dog with his energy while tugging) — it is banana chips, believe it or not!
Ann W. Livercake with garlic.
Marion B. I make my own liver and bacon brownies. Yuck!! But I can get back flips for them.
Laurie M. Baby food meat, dehydrated mini hamburger pieces, roasted and frozen beef roast or chicken breast.
Virginia J. I know it’s not right, but cat treats are the only thing she is wild for.
K9Capers dog day center Blueberries and celery!
Suzanne K. Diced cooked chicken breast for reactive class, Merrick lamb filet treats for our daily walks at the park.
Cheryl C. Steak – when we are going to a new event/new place I grill up steak the night before.
Jen R. Boiled and diced beef heart does it every time for mine.
Lisa V. I know sometimes we have to go to extremes to find what our DINOS will work for. In one of our reactive dog classes the only thing their dog would work for was butter! Yikes! My girl LOVES Trader Joe’s turkey meatballs and her tiny squeaky soccer ball. She will do ANYTHING for that soccer ball!
Jennie M. My pup has had a hard time concentrating in class lately, but today she worked for biscuits. People biscuits with butter that is…put on when they are hot, so it is all melted in! I baked them this morning. As long as it works, I will bake! Hot dogs and cheese work well also.
Laura P. If she’s really distracted (or scared) it has to be something she needs to lick. Liverwurst or canned food in a squeeze tube, Cheese or Kong liver squeeze cans, meat-based baby food licked right out of the jar.
Elana B. Diced chicken gizzards. I nuke the package for about 10 minutes and then dice them into training treat size. Way cheaper than anything from PetSmart or PetCo and not made in China!
Nic F. Any type of food!
Shoshannah F. Cheese!Jenifer R. Cheese! Any kind but the stinkier the better.
Katie G. Dehydrated beef lung!
Helen W. Bozi Dinos will ignore every scary thing if he is busy playing tug or squeaky hedgehog games with me (on lead) just to be sure. He also loves roast chicken, steak and bacon.
Nancy B. Boiled chicken cut up into small pieces is the highest value treat. Hot dogs second.
I hope that gives all of you some new ideas to try on your walks or in your training classes.
If you have favorites that weren’t mentioned here, let me know in the comments section or on Facebook!