If you’re planning on training in a distracting environment, what’s your dog’s favorite, most motivating treat?
Do you use different levels of food depending on how distracting the environment is and how difficult the training is?
How did you decide what the best treat was? Did you experiment with your dog to find out what his favorite food was?


  1. animal_a

    I use multiple types of premium kibble. If I know I’m going to be training in a very distracting environment I make sure they are HUNGRY… (but FWIW if I want their attention I will get it, and not necessarily by paying out food). Yes, I do use higher value rewards (or amounts) for a job well done.
    Frankly, my dogs are competitive enough that they do their best to maintain MY attention.. a waver of attention on their part ends up with me working a different dog who is less distracted. Even when I’m training away from home I always have more than one dog with me… I do not pander to dogs.

  2. greekman

    I love animal artworks answer!!!!! I use a toy, usually a tug as a reward, but, and here is the big but, the dog has to work for it. What that means is that the dog will need to work for 5-10 minutes, knowing that there is a tug toy waiting before he gets it. I do not reward dogs after a simple, single command once they have their foundation training done, they need to work to earn the toy.
    Also, like animal artworks mentioned, if I need to get the dog’s attention, I will do it with or without the tug. Good work gets the toy and we play, attention deficit disorder gets a real correction.

  3. ♥ Liz ♫

    I have never had a picky eater…so I can use any type of food to train my pups! But, the best for me is something soft and small. My first choice would be liver, my second, any sort of soft treats that are easy to eat…not like a hard crunchy cookie where crumbs can fly out of their flues….then they will be “nose to the ground” for the rest of the training period!

  4. ☼HNC☼

    I like Zukes salmon treats… the size is much more suitable for training purpose, and I even cut them in half sometimes if I`m planning on using a lot. They are very aromatic, and my pup will do anything for them!
    Nutro Natural Choice also makes some really nice berry flavoured treats, but I find that they are quite big, and are hard to break into pieces because they just crumble up. I keep a bag on hand because my pup loves them, and I usually give him one of those after a bath or grooming.
    When we are training in the house, I usually just use either pieces of his kibble, or frozen peas. Not exactly aromatic, so I`d say yes, I change the treats depending on the environment and the distractions.
    I also alternate treats with praise… normally I`m only giving about 10-15% treats, and 85-90% praise. If one day I don`t have treats on hand, I want to be sure that my dog is going to respond and be pleased with praise as a reward!

  5. miss misschiff

    let the dog pick the treat sounds weird but works. also training a dog in a distracting enviro is only gonna drive you mad. the dog wont lissen and will do wat it wants or follow watever else is more interesting at the time. best of luck

  6. taliafal

    Cold hot dogs, cut into small pieces. Sounds disgusting, I know, but every dog I know goes NUTS for them, and my mutt was trained with them. And she’s very well behaved.

  7. ♥shelter puppies rule♥

    i read when you train commands, you want a soft treat so they don’t get distracted. so if you want to distract them, i’d use a very hard and bigger treat. always mix up the treats, they’ll like most anything new. baby carrots can be great for distracting your dog from the environment.
    since i have 2 dogs, it’s hard to know what one likes because they’ll eat something just because the other is lol.

  8. Jin B

    I have a chihuahua, and she ALWAYS get distracted by people who surround her. But a sure thing to get my dog to come to me is to have some chicken liver available. It’s high in protein and my dog absolutely LOVES it.
    I had to do a bit of experimenting when my dog was a puppy to decide which treat she would like most, but mostly, if there was a treat with chicken or liver in it, she’d most likely be motivated to just come to me by the smell.

  9. Techie

    I use thesehttp://www.performatrinultra.com/dog/dbi…
    They are all natural and dogs like them. There is so much nasty stuff in dog food these days the less chemicals and bad stuff you give your dog the better off he’ll be.

  10. berner mom

    I use different things
    Chicken hot dogs, cheese, meatballs (made with ground turkey, sweet potato, oatmeal and garlic–their favorite). Sometimes I use crab, salmon or leftover steak.
    Yes, I do change them around depending on the difficulty/distractions and just experimented to find what they like the best
    Sarah…you can cook the hot dogs in the microwave (a package for 6 minutes and they aren’t greasy)

  11. gringo45

    I don’t think there is any one ‘best’ training bait. Every dog has their favorites. I like something that is easy to break apart into smaller pieces but not be oily/greasy or stain pockets.
    Purina makes some great beef and chicken treats, string cheese can work well, Billjac has a nice sized little treat in a carton….. There are just too many to list.
    Find one that your dog loves and work with it.

  12. Runs with Scissors

    It’s such an individual preference per dog. I would make a list of things that you “might” use- cheese/hot dog/toy, etc. And, just do a little experiment to see which ones your dog prefers, and rate them about how excited your dog gets for them. I use a high value reward whan I’m training something hard. I will a lower value reward for something simple. I have one dog that, as long as it’s edible, she’s psycho over it! Another would rather have a ball than anything else in the world.
    It just takes time and working with your pup to see what’s most motivating- and to keep the value high, don’t overuse it.
    Also, I would be careful about training in a distracting environment as it’s harder on your pup- distractions should be added slowly, and only as the dog can handle them.
    Good Luck! 🙂

  13. Sarah

    I went to puppy school with my dog a few years ago and learned that cut up hot dogs make him sit up and take notice. I had trouble in the beginning because all the other dogs and people made it hard for us to connect, but the hot dogs caught his attention and held it. Just a tip though, keep some kind of towel handy because they are greasy.

  14. Angie

    Different dogs like different treats. For example, my husky loves cheese, but my cairn terrier likes puperoni’s, and my golden retriever loves Doritos.
    I experimented to find which treat they liked best.

  15. ninjaaa!

    My dogs are EXTREMELY food-motivated.
    When I train in high-distraction environments, like the park, I use higher-value treats like cheese, pieces of beef jerky, spam, etc. Their favourite seems to be spam.
    When I train in low-distraction environments, for example when I’m just doing revision of basic commands in the backyard, they are so food-driven that I can just use single pieces of kibble or even – get this – their glucosamine supplements.
    I guess I decide on treats by trial and error. I’ll try different treats in different areas and see what works. They love chicken on the street just outside my house, but once we’re walking in an exciting new place (like taking a new route) it’s useless. So the next time I’ll know to up it to something better. My dogs are scenthounds, so the stinkier, the better – cheese usually works pretty well.

  16. ajmommy0

    I like cutting up hotdogs and using them. They are cheap and the dogs seam to really love them. They also have a strong smell and so the dogs know you have them.

  17. abbyful

    I use a mix of treats. I find it keeps my dog more interested than the same treat over and over. I put a variety into the treat-pouch so it’s random which one she gets.
    I use most often:
    Zukes Mini Naturals
    ZiwiPeak ‘Good-Dog’ treats
    Wellness WellBites (cut up, 1 treat yields 9 cut-up treats)
    Itty Bitty Buddy Biscuits

  18. Jump Higher Programs

    I use hot dogs cut up very small, usually turkey dogs. I also use natural balance rolls. If you cut them up and put them in a plastic baggie, add a little water and mush it up, it’s great for training. Especially agility because it will stick to the obstacles. You can pinch off as much as you need and it’s easy to hold in your hand.
    I’ve just tried different things, but I’m pretty picky about what my dogs eat so I tried to get something healthier. My trainer just uses the frozen bil-jack, but I don’t want my dogs eating that junk!

  19. Laura ♥

    Low-level treat = kibble pieces, biscuits, carrot
    Mid-level treat = Zukes, cheese cubes, hot dog bits
    High-level treat = turkey, cooked chicken, and those wonderful Dick van Patten “sausage” lamb-flavor things I can never remember the name of

  20. seo company

    Tyson responds the best to raw meat so we usually treat beef & pork. Baxter on the other hand doesn’t handle raw meat very well, as neither are on a completely raw diet right now, so he gets cheese. These are only treated when introducing new training and like you said, where there are alot of distractions. At home Ty will do anything for a click! Bax still needs kibble sometimes though.

  21. drb

    Yes, I have a hierarchy of treats of differing motivational value. At the very top, probably is small pieces of string cheese. Although it’s pretty messy, small lumps of frozen dog food, such as the Bil-Jac brand, thawed and rolled into little pellets works well, too.
    A treat that is also highly valued by my guy is to take all chicken hot dogs, slice them about 1/4 inch thick, then dry them for about four minutes in the microwave. You can cut the slices in halves or quarters to make smaller ones. Easy to handle, and most dogs seem to really like them.
    At the bottom of the list are baked dog biscuits, although some are better than others.
    Yep, it was pretty much trial and error.

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