Dog treats are a common way for pet owners to pamper their dogs and keep them happy. However, as with anything you feed your pet, it’s important to give them snacks in a responsible way so you don’t accidentally teach them bad habits or cause them to gain unhealthy weight. For a better understanding of how you should give your dog treats, consider the following do’s and don’ts.

Do:Reward good behavior with a tasty snack.

Dog treats are an effective way to train your pet and encourage good behavior. Depending on your training regimen, you may decrease the amounts of treats you give them over time, and they will still exhibit the desired behaviors. You can also use healthy, low-calorie dog treats as a way to motivate them to be more active.

Read labels.

To keep your pet healthy, keep track of the ingredients in their food and treats. Always read labeling, and check for a clear list of recognizable ingredients. Reading the package labeling will also tell you if the treats contain anything that can trigger an allergic reaction or make them ill. Avoid snacks that are high in sugar and salt. Though they may taste wonderful to your furry companion, it can be harmful to their health. Other ingredients to avoid are food dyes, chemicals, and corn and wheat gluten fillers.

Don’t:Neglect your dog’s meals.

Dog treats are not meant to substitute a balanced meal, so try not to give them out too often. Too many treats in addition to food will dramatically increase your dog's caloric intake. Supplemental foods should consist of no more than 10% of their daily diet, and they should not be given during mealtimes.

Give them human snacks.

Food from your plate may seem like a reasonable treat for your pet, but you must be careful about what they consume. Many foods that are fit for humans are toxic to dogs. Onions, grapes, chocolate, nuts, and garlic can make them sick, so it’s best to stick with specially-formulated dog treats from your local pet store.