12 Best Dog Treats for Picky Eaters
Do you have a dog who just never seems to like treats? Picky dogs are more common than you think, and as the owner of a dog who is a picky eater, it can be stressful to try to find something your dog will actually eat. Having a picky dog can make everything from buying dog food to training more difficult, since you might struggle to find dog treats that will motivate learning.
In this guide, we’re sharing our tips for choosing dog treats for picky dogs, plus recommendations for the best high-value dog treats even the most selective eaters can’t resist.
How To Choose Treats for Picky Dogs
Some dogs are bottomless pits who will eat almost anything they can get their paws on. Other dogs need a little more convincing. Luckily, there are a few universal truths about dogs: they like strong smells, they like protein, and they like human food!
High-Value Dog Treats
High-value dog treats are treats that most dogs will do almost anything for! These treats are smelly, and are most often made from a limited list of ingredients. For most dogs, high-value dog treats are reserved for training and special circumstances. For picky dogs, high-value dog treats might just be the only thing they accept.
When shopping for dog treats, you’ll know they’re high-value if they contain just a few ingredients, have a strong odor, and are usually dried, dehydrated, or made into chewy treats.
Single Ingredient Dog Treats
Many of the best dog treats for picky eaters are single-ingredient dog treats. Treats with fewer ingredients are typically stronger in flavor, since there’s no filler to dilute the taste. You’ll find a number of single-ingredient dog treat options below.
Human Food Mimics
In some cases, picky dogs decide that they like human food more than they like dog food or dog treats. For these dogs, dog treats made to mimic human food can convince them to chow down! At The Dog Bakery, we offer a wide selection of carefully crafted dog-safe baked goods that look just like human pastries, cakes, and cookies. If your dog is always begging for food from your plate, they’ll love our treats!
12 Best Treats for Picky Dogs
Ready to discover high-value dog treats your picky dog might actually enjoy? Let’s dive into our top 12 picks!
1. Beef Jerky Strips
Beef jerky treats are absolutely coveted amongst dogs, and our beef jerky strips are no different. Choose from a variety of nutritional blends like immunity and digestion to help keep your dog healthy and happy while they enjoy their treats.
Buy From The Dog Bakery | $24.99
2. Dehydrated Cod Skin Treats
Cod skin is an excellent source of natural omega-3 fatty acids, and when dried, becomes a super chewy treat for your dog! Made by Open Farm, these cod skin dog treats are made from 100% cod skin and dehydrated to create the perfect texture for your dog to chow down on.
Featuring traceable ingredients and sustainable manufacturing methods, these treats are ones you can feel proud to feed your dog. Hands down, these are some of the best dog treats on Amazon.
Buy From Amazon | $12.99
3. Freeze-Dried Free-Range Beef Tripe Treats
Tripe is one of the smelliest proteins you can feed your dog, which is what makes it so perfect for picky pups! Stinky in the best way possible, these treats will tantalize your pup the moment you open the bag. Featuring just one ingredient, these treats are crunchy, and can even be used as a meal topper for picky pups who don’t like their dog food.
Buy From Front of the Pack | $14.99
4. Beef & Cheddar Training Treats
If you’ve got a dog who loves chewy treats, they’ll love Bocce’s Bakery training treats! Available in several flavors, “Say Moo” beef and cheddar recipe is an especially big hit with picky dogs. After all, have you ever met a dog who doesn’t like cheese?! We didn’t think so.
Thanks to their petite size, these treats are great for training and reinforcing wanted behavior, and also make a good choice for smaller dogs or dogs missing teeth.
Buy From Amazon | $7.50
5. Chicken Jerky Strips
Chicken Jerky Strips from The Dog Bakery are made with just a few simple ingredients and come in a variety of formulas with added nutrients to make our treats as healthy as they are delicious. Choose from options like the “skin & coat” formula, which helps to nourish your dog’s skin and fur for less itching, dry skin, and inflammation.
Buy From The Dog Bakery | $24.99
6. Freeze-Dried Farm-Raised Rabbit Treats
Does your picky dog have allergies? Try giving them high-value treats made from novel proteins like rabbit! Made by Front of the Pack, this formula focuses on farm-raised rabbit and is gently freeze-dried to create a crunchy, flavor-packed treat. Because rabbits are less likely to produce an allergic reaction in your dog, these treats are great for pups with a sensitive GI tract.
Buy From Front of the Pack | $14.99
7. Air-Dried Lamb Training Treats
If you are looking for a high-value training treat but your dog only likes jerky, you’ll fall in love with Ziwi’s lamb treats. Made in tiny, bite-sized pieces, Ziwi’s lamb recipe treats are made from 96% meat and gently air-dried to preserve flavor and nutritional value. Instead of needing to rip up a piece of jerky to treat your dog, Ziwi’s treats are already perfectly positioned for positive reinforcement training.
Buy From Amazon | $11.78
8. Mini Carrot Cakes for Dogs
Celebrate your dog’s birthday or just give them an extra special treat when you order a mini carrot cake from The Dog Bakery! Available in packs of 6 or 12, each carrot cake is carefully handcrafted and decorated using 100% natural, dog-friendly ingredients.
Buy From The Dog Bakery | $16.99
9. Freeze-Dried Wild Alaskan Salmon Treats
This limited-ingredient wild Alaskan salmon dog treat from Front of the Pack are packed with healthy omega-3s for healthy skin, coat, joints, immunity, and more!
Buy From Front of the Pack | $14.99
10. Freeze-Dried Minnows
VitalEssentials makes some of the best natural dog treats available, and creates treats with just one ingredient! For picky dogs, we recommend these freeze-dried minnows—you’ll smell them the moment you open the bag, and your dog will go completely bananas ove these tiny fish.
Minnows and other freeze-dried treats also make good food toppers if your dog is being picky about their food.
Buy From Amazon | $17.49
11. Good Dog Pumpkin Chews
These unique chews provide your pup with a different texture experience. They're pliable and chewy, so can be broken in half or thirds or chewed into smaller bites. And they're more durable than your standard chew so they last a bit longer. These chews help promote great oral hygiene and the pumpkin is great for digestion.
Buy From The Dog Bakery | $14.99
12. Soft & Chewy Salmon Power Bites
Ever so slightly chewy and made with healthy salmon, these tasty grain-free power bites from Merrick are a great training treat option. Small but still packed with flavor, dogs go absolutely wild for these tiny morsels, and you can easily keep them in your hand for obedience sessions.
Buy From Amazon | $7.98
How To Make Homemade Dog Treats for Picky Dogs
Source: Proud Dog Mom
If your dog won’t eat any store-bought dog treats, try this super-simple one-ingredient recipe for crispy sardine treats! Sardines are packed with stinky, oily flavor that most dogs can’t resist, and this recipe is so easy, you’ll find yourself making them all the time.
Because sardines are so pungent, even super picky dogs will usually snack on them, making this one of the best single-ingredient dog treat recipes you’ll find anywhere. This is also one of the best cheap dog treats since a can of sardines is usually between $2–$5.
- 1 can of boneless, skinless, unseasoned sardines in water
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Drain sardines thoroughly, then remove them from the can.
Carefully slice the sardines in half lengthways, creating two flat filets from each sardine. Don’t worry if some of the sardines break apart—they can still be used, they will just be less aesthetically pleasing.
Pat each sardine half dry with a paper towel, then transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
- Bake sardines at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until the sardines are crisp. Allow to cool completely before serving. Store in an airtight container and serve within 4 days of being prepared.
Picky Dog FAQs
Wondering why your dog is the way they are? Here are some of the common questions people with picky dogs ask.
Why is my dog picky with treats?
Dogs—like humans—have personal preferences that rule their behavior! While most dogs will happily accept most treats, there are some who are just more selective with their food. In most cases, a dog being picky is simply a personality quirk.
Do you have tips for what to give a dog that doesn’t like treats?
If your dog absolutely won’t accept any kind of dog treat, try giving them one of the single-ingredient dog treats we have listed above. In many cases, dogs that are picky about dog treats don’t like the bland filler ingredients.
What are the best high-value treats for picky dogs?
Single-ingredient treats are usually the best treats for picky dogs since they taste only like their ingredients!
How to train a picky dog
When dealing with a picky eater, it's important to remember that the goal is not just to get them to eat, but to help them develop a positive association with food. One way to do this is through positive reinforcement training. For example, you can try giving your dog a small treat every time they show interest in their food, even if they don't eat it. Over time, this can help to build a positive association with food and make them more likely to eat. Additionally, you can try using a food puzzle toy to make mealtime more interactive and engaging for your dog.
How to address underlying health issues that may be causing picky eating in dogs:
Picky eating in dogs can sometimes be a symptom of an underlying health issue, such as dental problems, gastrointestinal issues, or even a food allergy or intolerance. If your dog is a picky eater, it's important to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues. Your vet may recommend diagnostic tests such as blood work or an x-ray to determine the cause of your dog's picky eating. Once the underlying issue has been identified, your vet can work with you to develop an appropriate treatment plan.
What are some other types of dog food and snacks that picky eaters may enjoy:
Picky eaters may be more likely to eat wet or raw food, as these types of food typically have a stronger smell and taste.
Wet food is often more palatable for dogs and can be a great option for picky eaters. Additionally, raw food diets are becoming increasingly popular for dogs and can be a great option for picky eaters as it's often made with high-quality, natural ingredients and it's not processed.
Some picky eaters may even prefer homemade dog food cooked with a recipe that's tailored to their tastes.
What are different types of treats that can be used for picky dogs:
In addition to traditional dog treats, there are many other types of treats that can be used to entice picky eaters.
For example, frozen treats such as frozen yogurt or pumpkin puree can be a great option for picky dogs.
Homemade treats like frozen peanut butter or meatball can also be very appealing to picky eaters. Interactive treat toys, such as treat-dispensing puzzles, can also be a great way to make mealtime more engaging and fun for picky eaters.
The importance of consulting with a veterinarian or professional dog trainer when dealing with a picky eater:
Dealing with a picky eater can be stressful and frustrating, and it's important to remember that you don't have to go through it alone. Consulting with a veterinarian or professional dog trainer can be incredibly helpful when dealing with a picky eater. A veterinarian can rule out any underlying health issues and provide guidance on how to address them. A professional dog trainer can work with you to develop a training plan that's tailored to your dog's unique needs and help you to find the right treats and food options for your dog.
- Positive reinforcement training can help to build a positive association with food
- Food puzzle toys can make mealtime more interactive and engaging
- Picky eating in dogs can sometimes be a symptom of an underlying health issue
- Consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues
- Wet food and raw food diets are often more palatable for picky eaters
- Homemade dog food can be tailored to picky eaters' taste
- Frozen treats, homemade treats, and interactive treat toys are also options for picky eaters
- Consulting with a veterinarian or professional dog trainer can provide guidance on how to address picky eating
Rocky Kanaka is an entrepreneur, pet rescue advocate and dog dad to a rescue boxer named Flip, a blind Cane Corso called Kobe, and a terrier mix named Zoey. He's also a pet chef and owner of The Dog Bakery, which specializes in dog birthday cakes
and fresh baked dog treats. His three dogs can't get enough of the dog cakes and treats!
Lorna Paxton Ladd is a passionate dog lover and enthusiast of The Dog Bakery. She loves spoiling her 3 rescue dogs with dog cakes
and jerky. A 15 year veteran in the pet industry, her aim is to educate pet parents on the best recipes, products, tips and tricks to optimize the human/canine bond. Her favorite product at The Dog Bakery are the customizable dog birthday cakes.