A selection of dog treats from basic kibble to chopped sausage

The Training Treat Hierarchy

Did you know there is a hierarchy of training treats? Just as we do as humans, your Happy Hound will prefer some treats over others. And they will do more for the tasty ‘high value’ treats.

In this post I’ll go over some of the training treats we use with our Happy Hounds, and some simple ‘life hacks’ to make your treats last longer.

A hierarchy of treats

Your arsenal of training treats should contain a range. From something simple and familiar such as their regular kibble, through to high value meaty treats. And for those really special treats perhaps some cut up chicken or sausage. Some of these treats will be more ‘valuable’ to your dog, and this pays dividends when it comes to training. The greater the ask from you, the higher the reward might need to be.

A quick visit to your local pet store will show you the huge range and selection available. For training purposes we are talking about a tiny treat. Literally a tiny bite. We are not talking about substantial treats such as bone shaped biscuits or chews. They have their place, and our dog cupboard has a fair selection of these. But what we are talking about here are training treats.


The most basic treat we use is our dog’s regular kibble that we use as part of their regular food. A nice walk to heal, or a sit or down when asked will be rewarded with a piece of kibble. Our dogs don’t mind this. They don’t care that it’s ‘just’ their breakfast. As far as they are concerned it’s free food for doing something really simple!

Mid-range treats

For something a bit more special than kibble this is where we’ll get something from the pet store. We like small soft treats like these low-fat training treats from Wagg (non-sponsored link). They are readily available from places like Pets At Home, Amazon and garden centres. At time of writing they cost 99p per 125g bag. Our dogs know these are different to their regular kibble and often this is all the incentive they need to do what we ask. Most often the treats we will use tends to be either this type of training treat or their regular kibble.

High value treats

If we are trying something new and difficult with our dogs, or we are helping them through a difficult situation such as barking, we can bring out the big guns. Like the mid-range treats, these tend to be commercial products from pet stores. They are usually meaty like these Aventuros Venison strips from Purina (non-sponsored link). Again, these are readily available, and cost around £1.39 per 90g bag, with each bag containing around 9 sticks.

Meaty dog strips cut into pieces suitable for training treats
Venison strips cut into smaller pieces suitable for use as training treats.

As a training treat this is expensive. But we would not give a dog a whole stick as a training reward. As these are high value treats, they are not dished out every day. Secondly, as you will read later, these can be cut up, making them last much much longer.

The ‘I’ve won the lottery’ of treats

These are the treats that your dog will literally do anything for. The treats that make them think they’ve won the lottery!

We very rarely need to use these treats any longer. There was a time when Benji had a real problem with barking on walks. Super high value treats were part of our strategy for helping him through that. Though I’m glad to say those days are mostly behind us.

Typically for these top of the hierarchy training treats we would use chopped up sausage or chicken breast. If you want your dog to concentrate solely on you, letting them know you have sausage treats is sure to focus their minds!

It takes a little more forethought than using commercial products. You need to think about when you will use them as you’ll need to keep them in the fridge. Even then they won’t keep for long. With Benji for example, we would prepare something the day before we would take him to sessions. You also need to plan cooking them. You wouldn’t put the oven or grill on to cook just one chicken breast or sausage. We planned it as part of cooking our meals. If we had the grill on anyway it’s quick and easy to simply put another sausage on for a training treat.

Once cooked and thoroughly cooled, you can cut the meat into tiny pieces. Remember, this stuff is like food of the Gods for your dog. A tiny piece of sausage or chicken is all you need as a training reward. You will turn your dog into a very focussed Happy Hound in no time! Once cut, put it into a sealable polythene bag such as a freezer bag, and put it in the fridge until your training session.

Won’t my dog get fat with all these treats?

Well, it’s a valid concern, and over treating is definitely something to be avoided. But whilst we treat regularly, we treat in tiny quantities. We make sure we are aware of the ratio of treats to exercise our dogs have in a day, reducing their evening feed accordingly. We tend to give them their usual breakfast portions of their regular food and regulate their evening meal.

Some people talk about ‘ditching the bowl’. This is where you don’t give them any regular meals at all. All of their food intake is distributed throughout the day as training treats, typically kibble. We’ve not adopted that as it relies on a strong commitment that you will do training each and every day. As a multi dog house we also want to avoid any conflict with overly hungry dogs.

Making treats go further

I mentioned this briefly in the High Value treats section. You can, and should, cut the treats into tiny morsels, depending of course on the size of your Happy Hound. The reason we like the meaty strips as high value treats is that they are easy to split. Cut them down the length of the strip, then cut each length into pieces. From one strip, we can get something in the region of 20 meaty treats. With 9 strips to a bag, for £1.39 and a little bit of time with the kitchen scissors you can get up to 180 training treats. All of a sudden that’s sounding like much better value!

We do the same with the mid range treats. The Waggs treats I mentioned are about the size of a 5p piece. Because they are soft you can just snap or tear them in two with your fingers. Sometimes we can even get three pieces from a single treat. Any further than that they tend to be too small and turn to crumbly powder.

Kibble being broken up for use as dog training treats
The kibble we feed snaps reasonably easily and can be used as training treats.

Lastly, the kibble we feed is reasonably easy to snap into two. Obviously this depends on the brand and shape of the kibble. But if you can break it up it will last longer and prevent your Happy Hound putting on too much weight.

We do all of this preparation in advance. When we want to do some training or go for a walk, the treat bag is ready with lots of appropriately sized treats.

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