The Right Way to Feed Treats to Your Dog

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

The “right” approach can differ, relying in your coaching objectives within the second, however mostly includes feeding the deal with on to your canine’s mouth. Even this isn’t so simple as it sounds. Feed slightly too excessive and also you’re more likely to lure the canine to rise up as a substitute of holding the place you’re reinforcing her for.  Feed the deal with so much too excessive and also you would possibly encourage her to leap up and/or seize to get it. Feed slightly 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 distant, or pull again as she reaches for it, and you may train her to get grabby for treats as she lunges to observe it. Ouch!

A great 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 stage, and maintain your hand nonetheless as she takes it out of your fingers. However, it’s vital to do not forget that every canine is a person, and you could need to experiment slightly with your individual canine to find out the place the perfect treat-feeding spot is for her, whereas protecting in thoughts the above caveats. 

There are additionally instances if you would possibly select to feed treats someplace aside from on to the mouth. If you might be engaged on consideration, you’ll be able to toss the deal with on the bottom to get your canine to look away from you, then invite her consideration again together with her title or a “Look!” cue, mark with a clicker or verbal marker when she seems, and feed the subsequent deal with by tossing it on the bottom so you’ll be able to cue the “Look” once more. If you’re shaping a “go to mat” conduct, it’s useful to toss the deal with behind her after you click on her for shifting towards the mat so she “resets” and might transfer towards the mat once more. And you probably have a canine who’s very sharky about taking treats (i.e. – leaves your fingers shredded) you’ll be able to toss the deal with on the bottom simply to avoid wasting your self from ache and bloody lacerations, till you train her to take treats gently. Another finger-saving method is to feed the deal with from the palm of your hand as you’ll feed a deal with to a horse. Alternatively, you’ll be able to feed sticky treats (cheese, peanut butter) from the tip of a wood spoon to avoid wasting your fingers, or make a comfortable pet food mush that you may 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 dog” when your canine bites too laborious. We aren’t canine, and we by no means actually know what we’re speaking once we attempt to faux that we’re. Plus, in my expertise, a big variety of canine simply get extra aroused if you begin yelping. Instead, provide your canine a low-value deal with in a closed fist, grit your tooth whereas she gnaws at your knuckles, and when her mouth lastly softens slightly, open your fist and feed the deal with from the palm of your hand. (You can put on gloves for this, if mandatory, to cut back wear-and-tear in your pores and skin.) You can add a “gentle” or “easy” cue as you provide your shut fist, after which use this cue as a reminder as soon as she has realized to be comfortable, for those who really feel her reverting to taking treats with a tough mouth.

If you have to say one thing, strive a comfortable, calm “Ouch” to let your canine know she is hurting you. Over time and many repetitions, regularly look ahead to her mouth to get softer and softer earlier than opening your fist, till she will be able to routinely take even high-value treats appropriately. Be conscious, although, that your reformed shark may be very more likely to revert to taking treats laborious when pressured or excited, and even a soft-mouthed canine can provide your fingers a powerful pinch when aroused! With time and follow, nonetheless, you and your canine can share a lifetime of acceptable deal with supply and soft-mouthed treat-taking.

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