The Right Way to Feed Treats to Your Dog


With the ever-increasing reputation 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 certainly one of them. But do you know there are proper methods and improper methods to feed treats to your canine pal? 

The “right” manner can range, relying in your coaching targets 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 a little bit too excessive and also you’re prone to lure the canine to rise up as an alternative of holding the place you’re reinforcing her for.  Feed the deal with lots too excessive and also you may encourage her to leap up and/or seize to get it. Feed a little bit too low and he or she might imagine you’re asking her to lie down. Feed too shut and also you’re invading her area – she could again away from you. Feed too distant, or pull again as she reaches for it, and you may educate her to get grabby for treats as she lunges to observe it. Ouch!

A superb basic 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 preserve your hand nonetheless as she takes it out of your fingers. However, it’s essential to keep in mind that every canine is a person, and you might need to experiment a little bit with your personal canine to find out the place one of the best treat-feeding spot is for her, whereas preserving in thoughts the above caveats. 

There are additionally occasions once you may select to feed treats someplace apart from on to the mouth. If you might be 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 identify 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 possibly can 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 may transfer towards the mat once more. And if 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 avoid wasting your self from ache and bloody lacerations, till you educate 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 possibly can feed sticky treats (cheese, peanut butter) from the top of a wood spoon to avoid wasting your fingers, or make a mushy pet food mush you can squeeze from the ending of a canine coaching squeeze tube. (https://www.petexpertise.com/dog-training-food-tube/)

And sure, it’s potential to show your canine shark to take treats gently. I don’t suggest the oft-repeated recommendation to “yelp like a dog” when your canine bites too arduous. 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 once you begin yelping. Instead, 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 little bit, open your fist and feed the deal with from the palm of your hand. (You can put on gloves for this, if mandatory, to scale 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 mushy, in case you really feel her reverting to taking treats with a tough mouth.

If it’s essential to say one thing, strive a mushy, calm “Ouch” to let your canine know she is hurting you. Over time and many repetitions, progressively await 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 prone to revert to taking treats arduous when confused or excited, and even a soft-mouthed canine can provide your fingers a convincing pinch when aroused! With time and apply, nonetheless, you and your canine can share a lifetime of applicable deal with supply and soft-mouthed treat-taking.

Featured photograph: SolStock/Getty Images

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