Give a Dog a Bone

Training provides a lot of advantages for your dog and you. It allows you to bond, it uses physical and mental energy, and it produces a trained dog that becomes an even better companion for you and everyone who meets your furry friend. When I started teaching simple commands with my first dog Titan, I wasn’t sure exactly how and when to give treats. We made it through simple commands and, admittedly, he was easy to train. His companion, Malia, copied a lot of what he did and she was also easy to train. Lucky me!

After adopting Doggy Trejo, I was more serious about training and knew that I wanted the two of us to become a therapy team. This meant I had to learn some proper training techniques, how to deliver rewards, and eventually fade out treats while training.

There are a lot of theories, strategies, and ideas out there about training dogs. Here are a couple of simple ideas about treats for training.  

First, learn to pair any treat situation with praise. Sometimes people think their dog will only learn to follow a command if they have treats every time. While this may or may not be true, if you add praise, your dog will learn to follow commands for praise, too. Praise in my training world looks and sounds like this: command, dog follows, treat combined with “YES!” or “Yes, good girl” or “good boy.” Don’t use a flat, monotone voice. Use a voice of enthusiasm. Yep, you might feel a little silly getting used to saying “YESSSS!” Get over yourself.

Next, figure out what kind of treat works for your dog. Use high quality, high value treats. I have found a few that work well, some that one dog likes and the other doesn’t, and know trainers who use cheese or cut up hotdogs. If your dog isn’t very food motivated, you might have to bump up the quality to entice them to play along. The idea is to have something they like, will work for, and is easy for you to access and deliver right into a happy mouth.

The last opinion I will share is to keep training treats just for training and special treats for other times. This isn’t any hard and fast training concept or even necessary. But I like to have a cookie or biscuit that the dogs may have to sit for, but is unrelated to any work they have been doing. I have purchased cookies the dogs love and I sometimes make them myself. Food is love for me, so I like to love on them with cookies. I have a basic “Love Cookie” recipe that’s shared at the bottom of this post.

Training your dog has such big rewards. The chance to learn and grow with your dog will only improve your relationship and that relationship will make training easier each time you'd like to do something new. Now go get some treats, practice your “YESSSSS!” and make some “Love Cookies.”


  1. 2 1/2 cups flour (whole wheat, almond, oat)
  2. 1/2 cup oats
  3. 1 apple, cored and grated (leave peel on but BE SURE to remove seeds)
  4. 1/2 cup carrots, grated
  5. 1 egg, beaten (or sub 1 banana, or 1 TBSP flax meal soaked in 2.5 TBSP water)
  6. 1/3 cup oil (vegetable, coconut, olive)
  7. 1/4-1/2 cup water (note: the apples add moisture, so only add extra water if necessary)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease cookie sheet or parchment paper.

  2. Remove apple core. Grate apple and carrots.

  3. In one bowl, mix the flour, oats. In separate bowl, beat the egg or add egg replacer. Mix in the oil, water, and grated apples and carrots. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients bowl and mix completely. The dough should be firm.

  4. Roll dough and cut out desired shape with a small cookie cutter. OR form into small balls and press each with a fork or your thumb.

  5. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes, or until biscuits are firm.

  6. After biscuits cool, feel free to share with the pups in your life! Store in air-tight container. Or freeze for hot days.

Makes 20-24  small cookies

This recipe is quite flexible. If you don’t have apples, just add more water. You can use another fruit or vegetable dogs can eat. I have use grated broccoli stems, pumpkin, sweet potato. If you find the dough is too watery, add a more oats or some peanut butter. You can be creative with what you have, just be sure the dough is firm before you are ready to bake it. If in doubt about what your dog can eat, ask a vet or find a reliable resource online.

Questions? Just ask in the Comments section. If you make these, please let us know how they turned out and if your dog(s) enjoyed them.

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