Q: I’m stumped on how often I should give my dog treats. Should it be regularly or just on special occasions? What kinds of treats are delicious AND healthy for my pups?

A:  Treats are a great way to increase variety in the diet, and to help reinforce good behavior and positive bonding experiences between you and your dog.  To most effectively use treats to positively influence your dog’s behavior, it’s important to observe the “No Free Lunch” rule:  Treats are something your dog must work for and earn.

You can give treats multiple times per day, as long as you keep two things in mind.  First, treats are not calorie free, so be sure to account for treats by reducing the size of your dog’s typical breakfast and dinner meals.  Second, remember that it is important to feed your dog with wholesome food sources that will positively contribute to your dog’s health.  As with your dog’s food, look for treats that are all natural and do not contain cheap fillers, artificial colors, artificial preservatives, propylene glycol, or high amounts of salt and sugar.  Nutritious freeze-dried treats made from 100% meat, poultry or fish are high in protein and low in carbs, and will speak to your dog’s carnivorous nature.  Grain-free biscuits are a good option for dogs that prefer the thrill of a “cookie,” and some dogs are happy to get a fresh baby carrot or green bean as a reward.