I am going to adopt a dog in the next week or two and I was trying to research care and training. Ive seen online that people train dogs on cut up hotdogs and I was wondering if this is healthy or if there is other healthy and good foods to train with? People online say it cant be chewy and ideally it would be soft. Ive heard sliced apples are good too but I was just wondering if there is a recommended food to train a dog on

  • Ill pick a best answer after a week or two of owning the dog
    – Ian
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 15:01

3 Answers 3


Use part of their dinner. Basically anything the dog normally would eat is fine. Dogs are good like that. Food = happy. Just cut/break up any large bits so that you have a larger number of bits food to offer so you can keep training them for longer. Dogs are happy with receiving food even if it is only a tiny bit.

It is important when training a dog with food rewards to not double up their food intake. This is where the using part of their dinner comes in. If you measure out their food for the day ahead of time, and take from that for training purposes, then at the end of the day give them what remains of their dinner then they will still only be eating a healthy amount of food each day.

Even dry dog food will work if you don't leave them a bowl of this dry dog food out during the day for them to snack on whenever they feel like it. Take the food bowl away at the end of their meal. Then they will enjoy the dry food as a treat.

  • SOME dogs are like that. Many really aren't. I've trained plenty that wouldn't even look at kibble if there was anything interesting going on. Kibble is usually not a high value food and will not convince a less-foody dog to do anything. I have met plenty of owners who did the 'just take kibble' thing only to find that their dog would not pay any attention to them : a swap for warm sausage or sardine cake can often help these people a lot.
    – Victoria
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 12:35

It really depends what your dog likes - just as with humans, dogs can be picky, and some foods will upset their stomach, so it's often trial and error to find a good 'reward' food.

I have found that most of my foster dogs like meat and cheese, and chunks of hot dog or small cubes of cheese are easy to buy, carry and hand out. Most dogs will work harder for 'special treat food' than for bits of kibble, although there are exceptions!

Some also like carrots and apples. Some will work for bits of their normal kibble, others will eat kibble only if it's well mixed with other food and definitely not as a treat! I have one dog who cannot eat any kibble, for some reason all the dry biscuit-format foods upset his stomach. This is unusual.

If you really want your dog to think you are awesome, you could bake him liver, tuna or sardine cake - these ingredients have a strong smell, and most dogs find them irresistible, even in very small chunks.

Here are some recipes:

(you can make smaller quantities, I know the liver cake recipe looks a bit daunting! If your dog gets gassy when he has wheat flour, as many do, you can make all of these with just porridge oats instead - add a bit more water so you don't clog your blender. Or potato.)

Bear in mind that when you first bring your dog home, everything will probably be a bit overwhelming. He might be scared, or super excited, and he may not be interested in food right away. If this happens, don't make a big deal of it - give him a few days of calm to settle and try again. You can store liver cake in the fridge for a few days, or freeze it.

  • look nice and disgusting to me haha, he will probably love it. ill wait to see if there is anything that he is particularly stubborn with and maybe try this if all else fails. Good suggestions! although i think in the tuna loaf i probably wont use garlic but maybe if he is being particularly good ill reward him once in a while
    – Ian
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 15:00

You have to strike a good balance of delicious but not so desirable that your dog can't focus. I bought these freeze dried liver treats for my dog once that were TOO good and made it hard for my dog to focus.

I've had good luck with chopped up hot dogs, bits of cheese, and broken up larger treats. It depends on what your dog likes. One of mine really loves apples.

The size of the treat is very important to keep in mind -- you want to keep it small so your dog won't get too fat and won't get full while they're training.

  • The point about 'no so desirable that your dog can't focus' is a good one for very food-focussed dogs, labradors being typical. I have to say that in several years of fostering rescue dogs, I have yet to encounter the over-foody dog, so I tend to just use the food that the dog considers of highest value. One of my own dogs will accept cheese, but won't touch freeze-dried liver, she doesn't like it. You just have to experiment and find out what's best for each dog as an individual.
    – Victoria
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 12:32

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