Dogs love dog treats for the same reasons as humans like certain things like candy and chocolate as treats. An occasional treat does not harm your dog, but as with overdoing human treats, an excess of dog treats can make your dog both unfit and unwell.
As you will probably know, a dog will readily eat as much food as possible, if it gets given a chance. So you can imagine how easy it is to give your dog too many dog treats.
From a training and obedience point of view, the idea of a dog treat is as a reward. The dog learns quickly that if it does something you are pleased with, it will be given a reward, but if you give a dog treats all the time, then the treats have little or no meaning.
Before giving your dog a treat, take a look at the ingredients on the packet, particularly the number of calories the treat contains. Ideally, you should try to reduce the calories you give your dog for its main meal to compensate for the number of calories in the dog treat. An excess of unused calories will eventually turn to fat and your dog will become overweight and unfit.
There are hundreds of different dog treats on the market, but in terms of their overall consistency, you tend to find there are three main types; hard crunchy treats, soft chewy treats, and a combination of both. Dogs love treats because they are effectively over-flavored; for example, they can be very sweet or very salty. Hard crunchy treats are good for your dog’s teeth; indeed there are many treats on the market that are made specifically to clean teeth. Soft chewy treats can be used to hide a tablet or other medicine that your dog may not eat on its own, but do remember that soft chewy treats are likely to have high sugar content, so don’t give it too many.
You probably are also well aware that your dog is perfectly happy to enjoy human food and will look upon it as a real treat. Human food should only be given to your dog as a treat and then sparingly. Many types of human food are not good for your dog and indeed a lot of human food does not contain the right minerals and nutritional ingredients, so while your dog will readily eat it, the food may not be doing your dog any good it could be doing it harm. Try to avoid giving your dog human treats that contain sugar and avoid grapes and raisins if you can.
Finally, always remember, if you intend to give your dog chocolate as a treat, only ever give it chocolate made specifically for dogs.
Never give your dog human-type chocolate as it contains an ingredient that is poisonous to dogs, but your dog does not know this and will willingly eat it.
Another great alternative to giving treats that they eat is to replace them with treats that they chew. A good chew toy or a solid long-lasting antler or bone will give your pet a lot of enjoyment.