The Right Way to Feed Treats to Your Dog

The Right Way to Feed Treats to Your Dog

With the ever-increasing reputation of force-free, positive reinforcement-based training, extra individuals than ever are feeding their dogs treats, and that’s an excellent factor. Hopefully you might be certainly one of them. However do you know there are proper methods and improper methods to feed treats to your canine pal? 

The “proper” approach can differ, relying in your coaching targets within the second, however mostly entails feeding the deal with on to your canine’s mouth. Even this isn’t so simple as it sounds. Feed a bit too excessive and also you’re more likely to lure the canine to stand up as an alternative of holding the place you’re reinforcing her for.  Feed the deal with rather a lot too excessive and also you may encourage her to leap up and/or seize to get it. Feed a bit too low and she or he might imagine you’re asking her to lie down. Feed too shut and also you’re invading her house – she could again away from you. Feed too far-off, or pull again as she reaches for it, and you’ll train her to get grabby for treats as she lunges to observe it. Ouch!

An excellent normal rule of thumb is to supply the deal with a half-inch to an inch away from the canine’s mouth, proper at nostril degree, and preserve your hand nonetheless as she takes it out of your fingers. Nevertheless, it’s necessary to do not forget that every canine is a person, and you could wish to experiment a bit with your personal canine to find out the place one of the best treat-feeding spot is for her, whereas maintaining in thoughts the above caveats. 

There are additionally instances while you may select to feed treats someplace apart from on to the mouth. In case you are engaged on consideration, you possibly can toss the deal with on the bottom to get your canine to look away from you, then invite her consideration again along with her title or a “Look!” cue, mark with a clicker or verbal marker when she appears, and feed the following deal with by tossing it on the bottom so you possibly can cue the “Look” once more. If you happen to’re shaping a “go to mat” habits, it’s useful to toss the deal with behind her after you click on her for transferring towards the mat so she “resets” and may transfer towards the mat once more. And in case you have a canine who’s very sharky about taking treats (i.e. – leaves your fingers shredded) you possibly can toss the deal with on the bottom simply to save lots of your self from ache and bloody lacerations, till you train her to take treats gently. One other finger-saving approach is to feed the deal with from the palm of your hand as you’d feed a deal with to a horse. Alternatively, you possibly can feed sticky treats (cheese, peanut butter) from the tip of a picket spoon to save lots of your fingers, or make a smooth pet food mush that you would be able to squeeze from the ending of a canine coaching squeeze tube. (

And sure, it’s potential to show your canine shark to take treats gently. I don’t advocate the oft-repeated recommendation to “yelp like a canine” when your canine bites too exhausting. We aren’t canines, and we by no means actually know what we’re speaking after we attempt to faux that we’re. Plus, in my expertise, a major variety of canines simply get extra aroused while you begin yelping. As an alternative, provide your canine a low-value deal with in a closed fist, grit your enamel whereas she gnaws at your knuckles, and when her mouth lastly softens a bit, open your fist and feed the deal with from the palm of your hand. (You’ll be able to put on gloves for this, if obligatory, to cut back wear-and-tear in your pores and skin.) You’ll be able to add a “mild” or “straightforward” cue as you provide your shut fist, after which use this cue as a reminder as soon as she has realized to be smooth, when you really feel her reverting to taking treats with a tough mouth.

If you happen to should say one thing, strive a smooth, calm “Ouch” to let your canine know she is hurting you. Over time and many repetitions, progressively look ahead to her mouth to get softer and softer earlier than opening your fist, till she will routinely take even high-value treats appropriately. Bear in mind, although, that your reformed shark may be very more likely to revert to taking treats exhausting when careworn or excited, and even a soft-mouthed canine may give your fingers a convincing pinch when aroused! With time and follow, nevertheless, you and your canine can share a lifetime of acceptable deal with supply and soft-mouthed treat-taking.

Featured photograph: SolStock/Getty Pictures

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