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5 Best Training Treats For Hiking Dogs

Pawdrick with training treats

Hiking with your dog is an adventure like no other. The beauty of the great outdoors, the joy of exploring new trails, and the bond you form with your four-legged friend make it a truly special experience. But like any great journey, a successful hike with your dog requires preparation, including ensuring they’re well-trained and motivated.

Training treats are essential tools for any hiking dog parent. They help keep your pup engaged, reinforce good behavior, and provide that extra boost of energy needed for those challenging trails. When you’re miles away from home, having the proper treats on hand can make all the difference in maintaining your dog’s focus and enthusiasm.

Ready to discover the top picks for training treats that will keep your dog eager and energized? Stay with us as we explore what makes a great training treat and how to choose the perfect ones for your next outdoor excursion.

This post includes affiliate links, but rest assured that we only recommend items we would use ourselves. If you choose to make a purchase, we receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. There are no sponsorships; this is just the truth about our favorite finds.

Why Training Treats are Essential for Hiking Dogs🥾

Giving training treats to a German Shepherd hiking dog

When you’re out on the trail with your furry friend, having training treats on hand is more than just a nice-to-have—it’s a game-changer.

Training treats play a crucial role in maintaining your dog’s focus and behavior, ensuring your hike is enjoyable and safe for both of you. They are powerful motivators, helping reinforce positive behaviors and energize your pup throughout your adventure.

The Benefits of Training Treats for Hiking Dogs

Positive reinforcement (such as giving training treats as a reward for good behavior) has been scientifically proven to be superior to negative reinforcement (physical or vocal punishment).

Negative reinforcement is an extremely outdated practice that has no place with dogs in today’s day and age.

A 2023 study from Cambridge University took a look at different training methods for 364 dog owners. They found that obedience had a statistically significant positive correlation (P<0.01) with reward-based training, but not with punishment. Additionally, problematic behaviors were more common in dogs who were trained with negative reinforcement compared to those trained with positive reinforcement (treats, praise, and play).

In other words, training your dogs with treats is not only better for them, but they’re likely to have better behavior!

Here are a few more benefits of training treats for hiking dogs (and dogs in general!):

  • Keeps Dogs Engaged and Focused: Hiking trails are full of distractions—from wildlife to other hikers. Training treats help keep your dog’s attention on you, making it easier to manage their behavior.
  • Reinforces Positive Behaviors: Rewarding your dog with treats when they follow commands or exhibit good behavior strengthens their training. This is especially important in unfamiliar environments where consistency is critical.
  • Provides Energy and Motivation: Just like humans, dogs need a little extra fuel during physical activities. High-quality training treats provide a quick energy boost to keep them going strong.
  • Builds a Strong Bond Between Owner and Dog: Sharing treats during hikes creates positive associations and trust. This bonding time is invaluable for deepening your connection and making your adventures together even more enjoyable.
  • Helps Manage Anxiety and Stress: Some dogs find new environments overwhelming. Training treats can help soothe anxiety by providing a familiar and comforting reward system.
  • Encourages Obedience in Challenging Situations: Whether crossing a stream or encountering another dog, having treats ready can help ensure your dog listens and responds appropriately in unexpected situations.
  • Facilitates Training Exercises: Hiking is an excellent opportunity to practice training commands like “sit,” “stay,” or “come.” Treats make these exercises more effective and enjoyable for your dog.

By understanding the importance of training treats and how to use them effectively, you can ensure that every hike with your dog is a rewarding experience. Next, let’s dive into the criteria for choosing the best training treats so you can hit the trails prepared!

How to Choose the Best Training Treats for Hiking Dogs🍬

Training treats for hiking dogs

Picking the proper training treats for your hiking adventures can make all the difference in keeping your pup happy, motivated, and well-behaved. Let’s break down some essential criteria to consider when selecting the best training treats for your furry hiking buddy.

Nutritional Value

When you’re hiking, your dog is burning a lot of energy. Look for treats that are not only delicious but also nutritious. High-quality protein sources, healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals will help keep your dog energized and feeling great.

  • High-Quality Protein: Opt for treats with real meat or fish as the main ingredient. This supports muscle maintenance and recovery.
  • Healthy Fats: Ingredients like flaxseed or salmon oil provide beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Look for treats fortified with essential nutrients to support overall health.
  • Limited Ingredients: Check the treat package label. If there’s a bunch of unpronceable stuff on it, it’s likely filled with fillers that have no nutritional value. Look for a short ingredient list with pronounceable ingredients.

Size and Portability

Convenience is key when you’re on the go. Choose treats that are small enough to be given frequently but large enough to be satisfying. A big stick of turkey jerky may not be the best option here!

Additionally, training treats should be easy to carry and manage during your hike.

  • Bite-Sized: Small, bite-sized treats are perfect for quick rewards without filling up your dog too much.
  • Easy to Carry: Portable packaging or resealable bags make it easy to stash treats in your pocket or backpack.

Alternatively, you can use a treat pouch like the Pet n’ Pet Dog Training Treat Pouch. Simply pour your treats into the pouch before your hike – no need to bring the entire bag with you!

Palatability

Let’s face it—if your dog doesn’t love the taste, those treats won’t be very effective. Test different flavors to see what your pup finds irresistible.

  • Appealing Flavors: Popular options include chicken, beef, peanut butter, and cheese. Find out what your dog prefers.
  • Soft and Chewy: Many dogs prefer soft, chewy treats that are easy to eat quickly during a hike.

Ingredients

Pay attention to what’s inside those treats. Natural, wholesome ingredients are always the best choice. Avoid artificial additives, fillers, and preservatives that could upset your dog’s stomach.

  • Natural Ingredients: Look for treats made with real, whole-food ingredients.
  • No Artificial Additives: Steer clear of treats with artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
  • Harmful Ingredients: Avoid treats that include ethoxyquin, propylene glycol, BHA/BHT, TBHQ, sodium metabisulphite, soybean hulls and soybean meal, corn bran, corn gluten and modified corn starch, rice bran and rice hulls, cereal by-products, oat hulls, cottonseed hulls and peanut hulls, wheat gluten, corn syrup, fructose, white sugar, animal byproducts, Carrageenan, excess sodium, MSG, sodium hexametaphosphate, nitrates/nitrites, propyl gallate, xylitol, rendered fats, vegetable oil, propylene glycol, melamine.

Durable Packaging Suitable for Outdoor Conditions

Hiking demands durability, not just from you and your dog but also from the gear you bring along. Treat packaging should withstand the elements and rough handling.

  • Resealable Bags: Keep treats fresh and prevent spills.
  • Sturdy Packaging: Durable enough to handle being tossed into a backpack or pocket without tearing.

Top 5 Training Treats For Hiking Dogs🐕

Pawdrick the hiking dog

We’ve gone through quite a few trial runs with training treats. Our dog, Gatsby, was a very picky eater, so we had to choose training treats that were healthy for his age (senior dogs) and that he would actually view as a high-value treat.

Our dog now, Pawdrick, is a garbage disposal, but we still want high-quality training treats for him! Below are the top five training treats that we’ve tried and loved over the years:

1. Full Moon Natural Essentials Savory Bites🍖

Full Moon Training Treats

We still use these treats! Our dog, Pawdrick, absolutely loves the beef flavor, but they’re also available in chicken, which we have yet to try.

Here’s what we love about Full Moon Savory Bites:

  • High-Quality Ingredients: The treats are made from human-grade ingredients (though we don’t recommend eating them yourself!). This means they are USDA-inspected!
  • Pronounceable ingredients: The list of ingredients is short, and the first three ingredients are proteins.
  • Size: The size of the treats is perfect for a high-quality reward. There’s no need to break them apart (though you can).
  • Calorie Content: The treats are 2 kcal each, which is pretty low compared to other treats and chews.
  • Smell: Honestly, these smell good enough to eat, and I’m not ashamed to say it.
  • Made In USA: These treats are proudly made right in the USA.

Full Moon treats contain no glycerin and use antibiotic-free meat sources that are raised in the USA.

2. Merrick Power Bites🍗

Merrick is headquartered in Amarillo, Texas, making it a USA-based company. We tried the Merrick Power Bites for Pawd, and he absolutely loved them. We switched to Full Moon only because the treats were a little big for Pawd, who is a medium-sized dog.

Here’s what we loved about Merrick Power Bites:

  • Variety: Merrick offers five flavors for its power bites: Chicken, rabbit and sweet potato, salmon, beef, and turducken.
  • High-Quality Ingredients: Like Full Moon, Merrick uses high-quality ingredients in their recipes, including deboned beef (or chicken/rabbit/salmon, depending on the flavor) as the first ingredient.
  • Short Ingredient List: The ingredients list is short and without a bunch of fillers. The ingredients are pronounceable and easy to understand instead of hiding behind words that sound healthy and wholesome.
  • USA-Based: While some of Merrick’s ingredients are sourced from outside the United States, the Power Bites are created and cooked in the USA.

Merrick’s treats have no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. They also don’t contain wheat, soy, or corn, which are just cheap fillers that aren’t very healthy for your pup!

3. Zuke’s Mini Naturals🐕

Zuke’s was founded in Durango, Colorado when the founder and his chocolate lab were on a hike. He shared his energy bar with his pup to refuel and realized that dogs were just like us and needed some snacks along the trail!

Pawd and our previous dog, Gatsby, liked Zuke’s, but they weren’t the best high-value treat. We found that Full Moon and Merrick were more enticing.

Here’s what we love about Zukes:

  • Perfect Size: Zuke’s are the ideal size for training treats. They’re small and round and easily gobbled up by our pups.
  • Low Calorie: Each treat is only 2 kcal, so you don’t need to worry about overfeeding your pup after giving them a few of these treats.
  • Variety: Zuke’s offers seven different flavors: Beef, chicken, duck, rabbit, peanut butter and oats, pork, and salmon.
  • Made In USA: Zuke’s treats are made in USA facilities and follow high standards.

Zuke’s treats have no corn, wheat, or soy, which are fillers with low nutritional value. Their soft and chewy treats make for the perfect reward while hiking! These are also good training treats for puppies.

4. Pupford Freeze-Dried Training Treats🍗

Pupford is based out of Utah and uses high-quality, limited ingredients in its treats to give your pup optimal nutrition while rewarding them for being a good boy (or girl!).

Here’s what we love about Pupford:

  • Limited Ingredients: Each treat contains a single protein source and mixed tocopherols, a preservative and natural antioxidant. That’s it! There are no fillers or extra garbage.
  • Variety: Pupford offers 5 different flavored treats – Beef, chicken, rabbit, salmon, sweet potato.
  • Low Calorie: At just 1 kcal per treat, Pupford is the lowest-calorie training treat on our list! So, go ahead and give your pup an extra treat.
  • Entirely Based In USA: All ingredients in Pupford treats are sourced in the USA, and the treats are manufactured in USA facilities.
  • Freeze-Dried: Freeze-drying helps preserve the treat’s nutritional benefits, which can sometimes be lost during the cooking process.

Pupford’s recipe does not use fillers. Its low-calorie content makes it perfect for long journeys with your four-legged hiking companion. Pupford is one of the top rated dog training treats because of their tasty recipes!

5. Stewart Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Treats🍖

Stewart freeze-dried raw dog training treats are sourced and manufactured in the USA. The freeze-drying process locks in the nutrition, so your dog gets all the benefits from their tasty training treat.

Here’s what we love about Stewarts:

  • Limited Ingredients: Most of Stewart’s freeze-dried training treats have just one protein ingredient, which we love. We don’t need to worry about fillers or extra garbage that has no nutritional value.
  • Organ meat: Some Stewart flavors (like beef and chicken) use organ meat, which is smellier but more highly nutritious for our pups!
  • Variety: Stewart training treats come in four flavors – beef liver, chicken liver, chicken breast, and salmon.
  • USA-Based: Stewart sources its ingredients right in the USA, and all products are manufactured in the USA.

Stewart uses no additives and no preservatives. The treats are free from corn, wheat, soy, grains, gluten, lentils, and legumes.

Training Treats For Hiking Dogs: Wrap-Up Session

Gatsby atop ruby peak

Training treats are as essential on a hike as any piece of gear. Just like we benefit from a handful of trail mix during long hikes, dogs benefit from training treats on those long journeys. Not only does it fuel them for the hike, but it also reinforces good behavior.

Our top five picks for training treats for hiking dogs include:

  • Full Moon Essentials Savory Bites
  • Merrick Power Bites
  • Zuke’s Mini Naturals
  • Pupford Training Treats
  • Stewart Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Treats

Some of the main reasons we love these five treats are that they use high-quality ingredients, are manufactured in the USA or Canada, do not use fillers, and offer a variety of flavors for our hiking companions.

Do you have a favorite training treat you use that didn’t make our list? Let us know in the comments below! Until next time, keep exploring with your canine companion! For more tips on hiking with your dog, check out our hiking blog!

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