Our favorite treats, in order of Batscore:
Zuke’s Mini Naturals, all flavors ($12.74-$15.99 for 16oz; $0.80-$1.00/oz): We have tried all four flavors of these pencil-eraser-sized soft treats with great success. They have 3 calories each, and one 16oz bag holds around 600 tiny treats. We can go through one bag in 3-4 days. Batman’s favorite is the salmon flavor, followed closely by rabbit and PB. He likes chicken, but not as much as the other three. The chicken flavor also seems to be less soft than the others right out of the bag. I stick with salmon and PB because rabbit is more expensive. They are wheat- and corn-free. Cons: Cost. They dry out FAST, so only take the amount you need for your session, then seal the bag tight. Batscore: A-
No Wheat/No Egg Liver Biscotti ($7.99 for 8oz; $1.00/oz): One of my favorite dry crunchy treats. They do take a few seconds to eat. One bag has hundreds of little cubes. Minimal crumbling. The liver smell doesn’t rub off on your hands. Cons: Cost. The treats vary in size — most are about 1/4″ cubes, but some are teeny tiny pieces. Batscore: A-
Sojo’s Grain-Free Dog Treats, Lamb and Sweet Potato ($6.99 for 10oz; $0.70/oz): These are probably our favorite biscuits — we’re already on our third box. Each 10oz box has about 60 biscuits. Top 3 ingredients are garbanzo bean flour, lamb and sweet potato. These take a little while to eat, so they’re good for crate games, or for games where you need to buy time between rewards. They snap in half cleanly with minimal crumbling. Cons: Fourth ingredient (of 5 total) is canola oil. Batscore: A-
Red Barn Meat Roll, Chicken and Liver ($5.55 medium roll; $0.16/oz): I just started using these last week and love the texture. They are the most economical treat on this list at 16 cents per ounce. You slice up as much as you need for a few days, then put the roll back in the fridge. Each medium roll is 2 lbs 3 oz, and makes around 1,000 little 1/4″ cubes. This can last us for weeks. The rolls are technically supposed to be used for meals (it’s basically canned dog food in a roll), but are commonly used for treats. Dog Food Advisor gives Red Barn 3.5 stars (out of 5) for nutritional value. Not perfectly healthy, but better than most treats, some of which are total junk food. I like the chicken and liver flavor because it does NOT crumble. The texture is firm, but soft, perfect for training. Cons: Seventh ingredient is sucrose (sugar). Contains wheat. Must be refrigerated after opening, and you have to slice them up yourself each time. Batscore: B+
Trader Joe’s Uncured Turkey Hot Dogs ($3.99 for 16oz; $0.25/oz): These are my favorite hot dogs for treats (Niman Ranch Uncured All Beef Fearless Franks come a close second, but they’re almost twice the price). They’re moderately low calorie and low fat, and have no onion powder (onion is bad for dogs), and no added nitrates/nitrates. They’re pre-cooked, but I like to boil them first because it makes them less slimy. Texture is nice and soft, a little spongey. I quarter them lengthwise and slice — each hotdog yields at least 48 little bits (about 2 calories per treat). With 8 hotdogs per pack, you get around 400 treats total. Cons: They only last in the fridge for 3 days after opening. You can freeze them or eat the unused portion yourself. They’re kind of slimy, and you have to slice them up. Batscore: B+
TJ’s Mozzarella String Cheese ($3.99 for 12 1oz sticks; $0.33/oz): I halve these individually-wrapped cheese sticks lengthwise and slice crosswise. I like that they’re soft, and low in fat. Cons: They don’t hold up well at room temperature for more than an hour or two. You have to slice them up. Batscore: B+
Tillamook Cheddar Cheese ($3.99 for 8oz brick; $0.50/oz): Batman LOVES this cheese. I slice into small (less than 1/4″) cubes and use as high-value treats. I sneak a few when I’m hungry, too. Cons: You have to slice them up. They get gross when left unrefrigerated for more than a couple hours. They’re relatively dense, and the brick doesn’t yield that many treats. Batscore: B
Plato Smart Dog Treats, Duck Strips ($13.99 for 16oz; $0.87/oz): These are relatively large (2″x1″), pliable treats that you can break into smaller pieces, though they do crumble a bit. Batman loves the smell, and it takes him a good 10 seconds to eat one. Like the Sojo’s biscuits, they’re good for crate games. Each bag has about 80 treats. They are over 90 percent duck. Second ingredient is organic brown rice, a good quality filler. Cons: 15% fat, so use sparingly. Crumble a little when you break them up. Batscore: B
Cloud Star Chewy Tricky Trainers, Liver ($5.95 for 5oz; $1.19/oz): These treats are the same pencil-eraser shape, but a little bigger than Zuke’s Mini Naturals. I sometimes break them in half to make them last longer. They really smell like liver, which is great for getting Batman’s attention, and are softer than Zuke’s. They’re wheat and corn-free. Cons: A bit pricey. Fourth ingredient is maple syrup. The 5oz bag is narrow, annoying to get your hand in and out of it. Batscore: B
Ranch Rewards Freeze-Dried Liver ($34.99 for 16oz tub; $2.19/oz): Low-fat, all-natural, freeze-dried beef liver that Batman goes crazy over. This is a high-value treat. Cons: Cost. Some pieces are really large (up to 3/4″ cubes), pieces are not uniform in size, and difficult to break. Batman gets the runs if he eats more than 4-5 a session. Batscore: B-
Cloud Star Soft Buddy Biscuits, Bacon and Cheese ($5.95 for 6oz; $0.99/oz): These are shaped like little gingerbread men and smell awesome to Batty. I break up each man into 4-5 pieces to make them last longer. They’re medium-to-high value treats, nice and soft, and don’t crumble. Cons: Top-5 ingredients include wheat flour and maple syrup. They dry out fast. Batscore: B-
Thank you for all the information! I am expecting to get an X puppy and I’ve been wondering what I am going to use.
You are so welcome, Laura. My one regret is that I can’t make all of his treats, which would get an A+ Batscore. I did it once, but it took me a long time, and the treats grew moldy within a week. I will try again later, but for now I’m cutting corners with the store-bought stuff!
Congratulations on your future X-litter X-tremely cute puppy!
Thank you Jennie!