What Do I Do If My Puppy Doesn’t Like Training Treats?

Training their precious puppy is a responsibility puppy parents take on the minute they adopt their new fur baby. It’s a big one, too, as a well-trained puppy will grow to be a happier, healthier, and more social adult. The more frequently you train them using proven training methods, the better. 

There are, to be sure, many methods you can use to train a puppy. Crate training, for example, is top-rated. It’s one of the better ways to potty train a puppy and give them a place where they feel comfortable and safe. Leash training is also crucial, especially if you’re a fan of long, peaceful walks in and around your town.  

One popular method of training involves using small, edible dog treats. Indeed, treat training is approved by many veterinarians and dog experts as one of the best training methods around. There’s one question I’ve heard many times from my readers, though that poses a small problem when it comes to this particular training method. That question? What do I do if my puppy doesn’t like training treats?

The short answer is to find another method of training that works better. Another solution is to search harder for treats that your puppy enjoys, although, for non-treat-motivated puppies, that can be difficult. You can also use a toy instead of a treat, as well as playtime and praise.

All of these solutions will work better (or worse) depending on your particular puppy. If they don’t like an individual treat, the answer might be simple, but the solution might be more involved for dogs who aren’t motivated by treats. Whatever the case, some changes will need to be made to train your puppy successfully. 

Now that you (mostly) know what to do if your puppy doesn’t like training treats, you likely have more questions about this critical subject. How to find treats they want, for example, or the best treats for training a puppy? If you do, read on. I’ve got the answers below, as well as real-world tips and advice you can use to get around this relatively common puppy training problem.

How To Find Treats Your Puppy Likes

The thing about training treats is that all puppies don’t universally love all of them. Some, albeit not a majority, won’t respond to treats at all. Others will only react to certain puppy treats, making finding one they like an essential task for you, their puppy parent. 

It helps to know what makes a good puppy treat, so you choose one that’s more likely to work. Some of the features that make a puppy treat effective include:

  • They’re tiny. Remember, this isn’t a snack; it’s a reward. Your pup should only get a slight taste of the treat.
  • Small treats are faster to eat, so you don’t waste time waiting for your pup to chew every time they get one.
  • Soft treats are better than hard as puppies can swallow them immediately with fewer risks of the treat getting stuck in their throat.
  • A pungent aroma is the trademark of a good treat, as puppies and dogs have an incredible sense of smell. Even the scent of an aromatic treat can get some puppies excited.

Cheese is an Excellent Treat for Training a Puppy

One of the best training treats for puppies is cheese for several reasons. For example, many different types of cheese have a hearty, intense aroma, something that most puppies worship. Cheese is also soft and can be chewed and swallowed quickly and safely. 

Cheeses like swiss and other soft cheeses are also easy to dice into tiny pieces; a must when treat training your puppy. (Remember, they should only get a small taste, not a snack.) Also, cheese leaves a powerful scent on your fingers, which can also be used as a training tool and tactic. 

One risk that must be noted when using cheese as a training treat is obesity and other problems that come with high-fat foods. Caution is needed to balance the treats with your puppy’s regular, daily diet. It’s also another reason why treats like cheese and meat should be as small as possible.

You Can Make Your Own Chicken Treats for Puppy Training

There are a couple of treats you can easily make for your puppy yourself, at home, with only a bit of time and effort. One of the easiest is to bake a chicken breast and then dice it into tiny pieces. You can bag the pieces in small batches that will last for several days in the fridge, or you can freeze them also. 

Chicken is low in fat when skinned, easy to chew and swallow because it’s soft and moist, and has lots of nutritious protein. It’s also a meat that puppies usually go crazy for, making it one of the best treats for teaching them various skills and tricks.

How to Train a Puppy that isn’t Food Motivated

The reason treat training is (usually) so effective is that the average dog goes crazy for treats. Some don’t, though, creating the need for alternatives to treat training. There are, thankfully, several alternatives to treats, including:

Give Your Puppy Playtime Instead

It’s rare to find a puppy that doesn’t like to play, making playtime an excellent training tool. Interactive play between you and your puppy is also one of the most effective methods of bonding with them and something dog experts highly recommend.  To use play as a motivation tool, follow these steps:

  1. Hold out your puppy’s favorite toy like you would with a treat.
  2. Instruct them to perform their skill, trick, or whatever you’re teaching them.
  3. If they perform correctly, immediately allow them to play with you and their toy.
  4. After a minute, put the toy away in your pocket or another area and calm your puppy down.
  5. Once calm, grab their toy and start again. (Note that this is the most challenging step.)

Praise Your Puppy in Place of Treats

Dogs are natural people-pleasers, making praise a valuable tool when training them. The average dog wants nothing more than to make their puppy parents happy, and showering them with praise lets them know you are due to your body language and tone. 

It’s also a great idea to use touch and praise together, as most puppies love physical affection. Telling them what a good dog they are while giving them a good belly rub or butt scratch can be very effective and let them know you’re pleased with what they’ve accomplished.

Remember to Remove all Distractions

For a puppy that isn’t entranced by treats, removing distractions when training is essential. Other puppies, children, and even smells can get in the way of training, which makes it essential to remove them before you start. Retreating to a room in your home where you can be alone is a good choice. Remove any toys or obvious distractions ahead of time, and use the same spec every time you train your puppy.

Final Thoughts

“What do I do if my puppy doesn’t like training treats?” is a question I hear all the time. The answer is that you need to search harder to find one that they like, which might take a bit of time and effort. In some cases, you may need to find an alternative to treats, something that inspires your puppy in the same way as treats usually do. It’s a different process for every puppy and also takes time, patience, and persistence.

I hope you enjoyed the information in today’s blog and that it answered all your questions. If you have more or want to discover other facts about how to raise a happy, healthy puppy, please see the other various blogs I’ve written on the subject. Until then, I wish you the best of luck in your new role as a puppy parent!