Dog Treats

Should You be Giving Your Dog Treats? | Tips for Treating Your Dog

Anyone who has a dog knows the effects of opening a crinkly bag within their earshot. Your dog comes running up to you and insists that you give him a piece of your snack! Your dog will show you his nicest eyes and look up to you with a face that begs for just a tiny crumb of your food. And everyone knows that dog treats are an important part of any dog owner’s arsenal, as they’re the perfect tools for teaching your dog, rewarding them, or simply making them happy.

However, the unfortunate truth is that, as with anything, you must make sure your dog is eating the right type of treats, only having an acceptable amount, and only being given them as a way to reward good behavior. How many treats can you give your dog per day? Thankfully, we at ChewNplay decided to put together a quick guide for the best practices when giving our best friends their rewards!

When Should You Give Your Dog a Treat?

dog eating treat

Anyone who has ventured into the world of dog training, and all responsible dog owners should have at least some experience with this, knows just how powerful that small, bitesized cookie can be. This is because treats are packed with flavors that are tasty to dogs, and just as with humans, something that tastes good can set off a large chain of neurological responses; it will make your dog more receptive to your commands, it will set his tail wagging, and, of course, it will usually make him start drooling. When done properly, this response can be used for positive reinforcement, something that associates your dog’s behavior with the positive experience he gets from eating a treat. This helps your dog refine their understanding of commands and modify their behavior, something that, when done right, can make all the difference between an unruly dog and the perfect good boy or girl.

With this in mind, let’s consider the best time to give your dog a treat, and ask yourself how many treats can you give your dog per day? The answer here can be stated quite simply, but it has a lot of detail beneath the surface. Your dog should be given a treat only as a reward for doing something you wish to reinforce. While this sounds simple, consider the following example and ask yourself if you’ve made this mistake: imagine you’re eating a snack and your dog comes up to you and begins begging for a piece of it. You know you shouldn’t give him any, but he's just so cute with those eyes and the way he leans his head against you, as though he’s telling you that he’s starving and that he hasn’t eaten in days, that just a single crumb could completely revitalize him.

Almost any dog owner can tell you that they’ve experienced this exact scenario. And although your dog is certainly cute when he behaves like this, consider what behavior you’re reinforcing. By giving him a piece of your food, you’ve essentially told him that begging is good and will yield snacks and treats. Maybe you’re okay with this, but imagine you have a guest over who doesn’t like the smell of dog breath wafting over their food while they try to eat. Unfortunately, your dog is almost certain to repeat this action.

So, how many treats can you give your dog per day and when should you give your dog a treat, then? As stated above, you should reward your dog with a treat only for the behaviors you seek to reinforce. We know it’s hard, but rest assured, if you’re caring for your dog properly, he’ll be just fine without that crumb of your sandwich. Consider your schedule for training with your dog and fit his treat(s) in with that. If you aren’t training your dog that day, still maintain vigilance in the aim of your reinforcement. At least make your dog perform something positive before allowing him to have the treat. Have him practice a command you two have been working on, or at least make him show you a simple and familiar one to reinforce it, such as sit, down, etc. instead of just handing him the treat.

Can You Give Your Dog Human Food?

dog watching food

So far, we've only asked ourselves how many treats can you give your dog per day. But now, let's consider what kinds of treats to give your dog. To answer this question, we’ll share our simple philosophy. We believe, when in doubt, dogs should eat dog food. This means that, while there certainly are human foods that a dog could eat and enjoy, there are also many human foods that carry the risk of making your dog sick or unhealthy, including ingredients that, while harmless to humans, could potentially be toxic to dogs. We admit, it’s not a very fun philosophy, and we’re sure your dog would disagree with it quite vocally if he could, but we all have duties as the caretakers of these animals to ensure they are living healthy and happy lives. You should discuss with your veterinarian what human foods or snacks might be appropriate, if any, but always be very vigilant in looking at what you give to your dog. Ask him to provide a list of ingredients to avoid and follow his advice closely.

With that said, let’s consider the best treats to give your dog. The good news here is that there is a practically endless list of potential options, carefully crafted and baked to appeal to the dog palate. What’s more, there are even treats that provide healthy benefits, such as teeth cleaning, breath improvement, and vitamins.

Some treats are designed to be healthier, offering more natural ingredients, avoiding artificial ones, and are prepared with better textures and shapes for dogs.

Here’s a list of some of our suggestions for healthier treat options:

For healthier options:


When it comes to using treats to train your dog, we like training treats. These are designed to be smaller and lower in calorie so your dog can have more, allowing for more time to be spent reinforcing the good behavior you want him to practice.

Here’s our suggestion for training treats:

Training Treats:


In addition, one of the often overlooked value of treats is dental health. Your dog probably doesn’t brush his teeth as often as you do, and we all know just how bad a dog’s breath can smell. While not all dental chews address the scent, many of them are still excellent in the way of cleaning his teeth and gums.

Here’s our suggestion for dental chews:

Dental Chews:

How Many Treats Can Your Dog Have?

dog eating treat

As with all things in life, you must be sure to maintain moderation in giving your dog treats. Depending on the type, the size of your dog, his diet, and his general activity levels, you may need to consider his entire daily caloric intake when offering him treats. A good guideline is to allow your dog just one full-sized treat per day. Just as we humans must do for ourselves, you should take an active and careful role in monitoring your dog’s diet. As always, your veterinarian would be the best person to consult for this. Next time you are there with your dog, ask him to explain your dog’s current and ideal weight, what sorts of foods and treats he should be getting, and how much. For example, if your dog eats two times per day, your veterinarian may suggest he receive no more than one or two treats in a single day. This is, again, only a hypothetical example, so be sure to ask your veterinarian.

Many people underestimate it, but certain treats, especially those that are of particularly high reward, may have a significant number of calories in them per piece. Because of this, if you are training your dog, you might consider training treats. These are smaller treats that usually have fewer calories per serving, allowing you to give your dog a lot more throughout the whole day to accommodate for the need to reinforce behavior during the course of training. That being said, all dogs have different dietary needs and so, once again, a veterinarian’s advice here is always best.

Giving Your Dog Treats & Cookies

dog laying beside treats

Having a dog to love is one of the great joys of life. To want to spoil him and give him anything he asks for is a perfectly normal response to this feeling, to seeing his eyes stare back at you, and to knowing how much he loves you too. But this is all the more reason to understand the best practices for giving your dog these treats. It’s imperative that you teach your dog good habits and use the treats to reinforce them, not only for your own convenience in giving commands and avoiding bad behaviors, but also for your dog’s own safety and wellbeing. What’s more, the types of treats you give your dog can, on their own, have a significant impact on his overall health. As such, you must be careful when considering what you are going to feed him. And, of course, take special care in how much you feed him. Just as with humans, your dog’s diet is a very important aspect of overall health and wellness.

With all this in mind, don’t feel as though this is a warning to scare you away from having fun with your dog and showing him love with treats! We just ask that you balance it with good habits, and always act in accordance with your veterinarian’s advice to ensure your dog is as healthy as he is happy.
Back to blog