In the early days of dog training, both owner and pet undergo a learning process. Despite how easy it is to find treats advertised as ‘healthy’ and ‘flavoursome’ on supermarket shelves, the difficulty lies in choosing products with the right ingredients and knowing how often to distribute them. This journey involves asking the right questions, doing your research and discerning between sponsored advertising and clinical advice. Starting to feel overwhelmed? Don’t worry, we’ve covered the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ in this article to help you navigate one of the most exciting times in pet-owner relationships: dog training.

Whether you’re a DIY pet owner looking for natural alternatives to commercial pet food or a time-poor puppy lover needing dog treat recommendations, you’ve come to the right place. You’ll learn why we recommend superfood and freeze-dried dog treats for training purposes, which commonly found foods in your kitchen are ideal puppy rewards and which ingredients to avoid. If your dog has special dietary requirements or preexisting conditions, always consult a professional.

1. Bell & Bone Superfood Dog Treats

Our Superfood Dog Treats are natural, grain-free and healthy alternatives to many of the commercial dog treats found in your local supermarket. When choosing a brand that’s right for your pup, always consider whether the ingredients found in their product ranges are from Australia or New Zealand, clean and free of all the nasties you wouldn’t want to eat yourself. Things like sugar, salt and fillers are always a big no-no because they simply don’t belong in a canine diet. Some of the less obvious nasties you want to avoid can be recognized by long names of chemically processed preservatives that are commonly found at the end of the ingredient list. You know, the ones that you can’t pronounce.

At Bell & Bone, we want you to feel empowered and informed in your decision-making process. For this reason, our ingredient list is short and simple, containing raw nutrition and key ingredients that give your furry baby the best chance at a long and healthy life. You’ll find outcome-based recipes, instead of flavoured ones, for the simple reason that you want to know how it'll affect your pup's health. With over 100 small treats in each bag, you can find options for healthy coats, balanced bellies, an outer glow or increased energy levels depending on your pup’s needs. For Bell & Bone treat serving recommendations, head to the end of this article.

2. Bell & Bone Freeze-Dried Dog Treats

Our Freeze-Dried Dog Treats are another great option for dog training purposes and are a much healthier alternative to commercial dehydrated dog treats and jerky. This all comes down to the way dog food is processed into treat form. Freeze-drying is a simple process of moisture and bacterial content removal that preserves the nutritional integrity of raw ingredients. In fact, they are so healthy, that up to 99% of the nutrients are retained through this process. In contrast, popular dehydrated products traditionally go through a high-temperature cooking process, losing up to 65% of their nutritional value.

Our Freeze-Dried Dog Treats are a little larger than our Superfood range but can be easily broken in half, making them the perfect training treat. You can choose from our Chicken, Broccoli and Ginger range for balanced gut health and sensitive tummies, Kangaroo, Spinach and Kelp for increased energy levels or our Salmon Carrot and Kale treat for shiny coats and skin. For Bell & Bone treat serving recommendations, head to the end of this article.

3. Carrots cut into small pieces

If you’re wanting to take the veggie route, look no further than the crowd-favourite crunchy carrot family. Every part of these snacks, from the carrot itself to its leafy green top is safe and delicious for your pup to enjoy. They also contain essential vitamins and minerals like beta carotene (which the body converts to vitamin A), vitamin K, potassium and other goodies that you can trust for your furry baby.

4. Fruit cut into small pieces

Fruits are another great source of vitamins and minerals and are a perfect low-calorie reward for your puppy in training. We recommend blueberries or cut up apples because they’re rich in fibre, antioxidants and vitamins C and K. With apples, be sure to remove the seeds and core first.

5. Home-cooked boiled chicken cut up into small pieces

For total peace of mind, home cooking is a great way to ensure your pup is getting all of the essential vitamins and minerals it needs - and none of the nasties like sugar and preservatives. We recommend boiling chicken and cutting it into bite-sized pieces for a dog treat your pup will love. Containing Omega 6 fatty acids, essential amino acids and glucosamine, poultry is a protein-rich source of energy for shiny coats, healthy skin and bone health. It’s important to remember that dog treats should account for no more than 10% of your pup’s daily calorie intake. For more information about how many treats to give your pup, check out our last article covering How Many Treats are too Many for my Dog.

Dog Training Treats to avoid:

    1. Too much liver

Liver dog treats have typically been a popular option - they snap into small bit easily and the dogs love them. In small portions, the liver is harmless, but in large or frequent quantities, it can lead to liver poisoning or vitamin A Hypervitaminosis. As part of a balanced diet, the liver should account for less than 5% of your pup’s food intake.

    1. Treats with wheat, corn rice, cereal, sugar, white potato

These ingredients are proven to increase the likelihood of diseases like cancer, diabetes and arthritis in pups, to name a few. When in doubt, choose the natural alternative. All Bell & Bone products are free from these nasties as health and happiness are our top priorities :)

    1. Lean meats for puppies under 6 months

Puppies need more fats in their diet than adult dogs. Always choose fattier options like chicken, duck, fish or beef. Leaner meats like kangaroo and venison are great for older dogs when their metabolism has slowed and they are more prone to weight gain.

    1. Cheese

Many dogs are actually lactose intolerant and typically don’t process cheese very well. This can lead to tummy upsets and runny poos which are counterproductive to dog training! Besides this, cheese is typically rather fattening and can lead to unexpected weight gain. We recommend getting your pup’s fats up with food like salmon, chia seeds, coconut oil and flaxseed.

    1. Anything too processed

Your pup's digestive system isn't built to break down grains, preservatives, sugars and other chemically-processed ingredients. It's built to survive on whole animals (bones and organs included) and the foods within their stomachs like vegetables, fruits and plants. For this reason, keep your dog treats raw and natural.

How many Bell Bone treats should I give my dog per day?

The number of treats your dog should have each day will depend on its breed, size, age and activity level. Something to note is that Bell and Bone is a treat, it should be fed as a snack not to replace meals. The following guide is intended for dogs with regular exercise and a healthy weight.

(Image featuring no_fetch_franco)

Small Dogs

Medium Dogs

Large Dogs

Should I use dog treats to train my dog?

As mentioned above, there are a variety of treats options to suit any type of pup. These delicious treats, when given together with praise, are the perfect way to help train your dog. However, there are some things to consider when training your dog using treats. Treating in moderation is vital - it is important not to overfeed your dog using treats as it can upset their sensitive stomachs. Also, choosing the correct type of treat that is both healthy and natural is super important for your dog’s general wellbeing.

Being a dedicated dog owner often involves asking the right questions, seeking the right advice and, most importantly, checking in with your pup to make sure that it's healthy and happy. When in doubt, or in the event of health concerns, always consult a professional. Head to our FAQs page for more answers to dog treat-related questions. If you have any other questions, please feel free to get in touch with me and I'll make it a priority to keep you informed and empowered.

Featured photo credit: @albie_the_cavoodle
December 21, 2020 — Yuval Ashkenazi