When I start working with a new puppy, one of the first things we chat about isn’t just “Sit” or “Come”—it’s about treats. Every pet parent I meet has the same question: ‘how many treats can I give a puppy without overfeeding?’ And trust me, it’s a valid concern, especially with those adorable tiny furballs that are under 10 pounds. So, let me share with you what I tell puppy mama’s and daddy’s when I start a puppy training program.


1. Opt for High-Quality Dog Food as Treats

Instead of traditional training treats, which can be the equivalent of candy, opt for a high-value dog food like Ziwi Peak. (Check out my favorite treats.) These foods are nutritious and serve as excellent rewards, ensuring your puppy isn’t consuming empty calories.


2. Adjust Your Puppy’s Meal Portions

To accommodate the extra calories from treats, reduce your puppy’s regular food intake by 10-25%. This helps maintain a balanced diet and prevents weight gain.


3. Allocate One Meal’s Worth for Training Treats

Since puppies are usually fed 3 to 4 times a day, consider using the allotment for one meal as training treats throughout the day. This way, you’re spreading out the calorie intake and keeping your puppy’s diet in check.


4. Modify Treat Size for Smaller Puppies

For small puppies under 10lbs, cut regular training treats in half. Smaller breeds have different caloric needs, and this adjustment helps prevent overfeeding.


5. Understand Your Puppy’s Dietary Needs

It’s crucial to know how much your puppy should be eating. Familiarize yourself with the amount of calories suitable for their breed, size, and activity level to ensure they’re getting just what they need.


6. Utilize a Calorie Calculator

To make things easier, use a dog calorie calculator using the appropriate age of your puppy. This tool will help you determine the right amount of food and treats based on your puppy’s specific requirements. 



By following these guidelines, you can train your puppy effectively while avoiding overfeeding. Remember, high-value treats make training go faster! So don’t skimp on the treats. Be smart about it instead.

Cyndi Smasal, CPDT-KA

Cyndi Smasal, CPDT-KA

Certified Professional Dog Trainer / Integrative Pet Specialist

Author, Pet Nutrition Specialist and Pet Care/Health Coach

About Cyndi Smasal

Cyndi is the founder and Chief Dog Lover of Pawtastic Pet Solutions.
She is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) and has been doing in-home dog training since 2016.

Cyndi has a broad set of skills, knowledge and experience spanning two decades. She calls herself an Integrative Pet Specialist. Prior to being a dog trainer, Cyndi authored two books, studied canine nutrition and natural pet care.

For the past 18 years, Cyndi has turned her love of one dog, Norman (the subject of her first book), into a passion for all dogs. She’s helped thousands of pet parents through her books and hundreds have consulted with her about their own dogs.