7 Mistakes People Make When Using Dog Treats

23rd March 2022

Guest Blog: Robert Thomas from Marvelous Dogs

Treats are for motivating your dog, but they can quickly become a bad thing if used incorrectly. But what are some common mistakes you could be making when giving your puppy treats? Read on to find out.

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So, you’ve finally got a new adorable puppy. Now you have to start training them, and with that comes treats.

Treats are the best reward your dog can get from you in exchange for their good behaviour and willingness to listen. You can liken it to giving a child a prized candy bar for being good. However, with all good things come faults that can show themselves, in how you use them.

Robert from Marvelous Dogs says “treats are for motivating your dog, but they can quickly become a bad thing if used incorrectly.” Most puppy parents usually don’t realise that they are, in fact, using treats in the wrong manner since they are not doing it on purpose.

But what are some common mistakes you could be making when giving your puppy treats? Let’s take a look below!

Bad Quality Treats

Food is the most exciting thing you can give your puppy, especially treats. However, a lot of puppy parents don’t look at what’s actually in the treats they’re giving their pups. Why? Because it’s very convenient to go and buy the commercial treats at the supermarket.

The problem is that a lot of those commercial products include harmful additives, chemicals and toxins that can be bad for your dog in the long run. Yes, treats are only a small amount of your dog’s food intake, but it still has to go into their bodies.

As puppy parents, you should ensure that you read the ingredients included in your puppy’s treats to look out for anything that may harm their health. It’s honestly better to go the natural, gluten, grain-free, and or freeze-dried route for snacks since they are healthier. You should also consider your puppy’s age, breed, and size since a treat that may be healthy for a Great Dane may not be for a Dachshund.

Giving Too Many Treats

Too much of a good thing will sometimes lead to bad consequences, and the same can be said when it comes to giving your puppy too many treats.

It’s very common for puppy owners to give their puppy way too many treats in a day. I mean, their adorable little faces begging for them are just too cute to say no to! But, just like if you gave your child too much candy every day, giving your dog too many treats can lead to health problems such as obesity, which can open up a field of problems for your puppy in the long run.

To prevent giving your puppy too many treats, Veterinarians worldwide will typically tell pet owners to go by the 10 percent rule when giving treats to your puppy, meaning treats should only make up 10% of your dog’s daily intake. Of course, you’re going to have to observe your dog’s daily calorie intake to see how much treats you should be giving them to prevent yourself from exceeding this 10% rule, but your dog’s health will greatly thank you for it.

Using Human Snacks and Junk Food as Treats

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but human snacks and junk food should not be used as treats for your puppy!

Junk food provides an unhealthy amount of unneeded calories and additives for us and the same applies to your puppy, but tenfold. They simply don’t need it, and it shouldn’t be given to them no matter how long they give you the puppy dog eyes.

So if you really like chocolate and think it would be a good treat for your dog, it isn’t. The same goes for chips, pizza, ice cream, and any other junk food made specifically for human consumption.

Now, there are some human foods you can give to dogs as treats in small quantities like natural honey, cheese (very small amounts!), and natural peanut butter. However, it’s best to just stick to the healthy treats made for them. They’ll love natural treats just as much as any other human snack you attempt to give to them.

Awarding Treats During Bad Behaviour

A big, common mistake puppy owners make when giving treats is rewarding their puppies while exhibiting bad behaviour. For example, let’s say your puppy completed an action, you get your treat out to reward them, but by the time you go to give them the treat, they’re jumping around to get it. But still, you give them the treat.

The problem with this is, your dog now thinks they got a reward, not because they completed the desired command but because they jumped around for their treat, which is unwanted behaviour.

To prevent this, if you see your puppy doing an unwanted action right when you’re about to give them a treat, don’t give it to them. Instead, wait until they calm down and reinforce the command that you’re teaching them at the moment. Then, please give them the treat as soon as possible to prevent them from switching to any unwanted behaviour.

Giving Treats During Mealtime

Some puppy parents will give their puppies a treat during mealtime as a way to supplement their regular food. However, this isn’t necessary and shouldn’t be done. During mealtime, your puppy is or should be already getting all of the nutrients they need from their food. Therefore this is a time when your puppy’s treats aren’t needed.

Also, the nutritional value of treats does not amount to regular food, so they shouldn’t be used as a meal to gain nutrients. When it comes to mealtime, the best thing to do is put the treats away.

Not Giving Treats Fast Enough

It’s common knowledge that puppies and older dogs have an extremely short attention span that’s the same as a child’s. They move on to the next thing fairly fast, leading to them forgetting the action they had completed before. So when you’re training a puppy, the time it takes you to give them a treat is critical because if it takes you longer than 15 seconds to reward them for an action, they will have forgotten what they’re getting the treat for.

To prevent this, make sure you have your treats ready in hand to give to your puppy the moment they complete a command. This will ensure your puppy knows what they’re being rewarded for.

Using Treats When Your Puppy Doesn’t Respond to Cues

It’s easy for puppy owners to bring treats to regain their puppy’s attention when they aren’t responding or paying attention during training sessions. This shouldn’t be your immediate reaction to disobedience, otherwise, you’re instead just playing into what your puppy wants you to do.

Your puppies are going to do whatever they have to, to get that treat, even if that means blatantly ignoring you when you’re trying to get their attention.

Instead of bringing out the treats to appease your pup, it would be better to take a break with your training and regain your puppy’s attention in some other way, like with affection or with a toy. Then, after a while, try to teach them the command again and see how it goes. Remember, treats should be a reward, not the reason behind why your puppy is doing a command.


Treats are one of the most used methods for aiding puppies in their training process. However, through improper use, puppy owners can misuse them in a way that negatively affects them.

There can be a lot of factors relating to how you use treats that can impact your puppy’s health and learning during training sessions. These factors and bad habits such as giving too many treats, giving out bad quality treats, not giving treats fast enough, etc., are things that puppy owners don’t do intentionally, yet they’re detrimental all the same.

So here’s a task for you. The next time you give your puppy treats, observe how you use them and watch if you make one of the mistakes mentioned above. It’s best to correct these habits fast before they impact your pup!

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