How To Teach Dogs To Take Treats Gently


Dogs and humans share one thing in common: they love food! Though sometimes our dogs can often be a little overzealous when it comes to sneaking a bite. 

To teach dogs to naturally take food from the hand with a cue such as “gently” will help them develop the habit of retrieving treats with patience instead of a quick snap to your (or someone else’s) hand. Here’s how you can teach your dog this simple but important trick:

Why Teach Your Dog to be Gentle?


Training dogs to take treats gently isn’t just for polite manners, it is also necessary as it can put loved ones’ hands at risk when visiting. Without proper precautions in place, someone, especially a child, could be tossing some food or carelessly giving the dog a bite of something, and a quick snap could injure someone. 

How To Teach Dog To Take Treats Gently


Let’s save ourselves some trouble and teach our pups some restraint. We share their enthusiasm, but it never hurts to have some manners. To teach the cue, “gently” hold a treat in your hand and keep the fist clenched. If the dog bites at your hand, keep it closed. This approach may mean you will want to invest in some tough gloves depending on how big your dog bite is or your pain tolerance. When their interest subsides, and there isn’t any biting or licking, say the cue word “gentle” and reward the canine.

This technique teaches them that even within their exhausted attempt to obtain the food, it didn’t work. All that works is taking it gently. From then on, keep vocalizing the cue word when giving the food. 

If the dog continues to snap, pull the food away. Without the reward, especially a food reward, the dog will learn how to obtain the desired result. Once the dog sees that snapping isn’t doing the trick, they will be hyper-vigilant of what gets them that tasty treat.

Ways To Avoid Biting Accidents


Until your dog has learned proper manners of how to not snap for treats, then it’s best to develop measures to protect fingers from falling victim outside of training sessions. At home, try putting dog-friendly peanut butter and offer your pet to take a few licks of it, helping the dog get used to having hands near their mouths when eating. 

This is also true in dog parks or within training sessions where other dogs and their owners may be around. In these settings, only offer a treat when the hand is completely open and the palm is exposed. Dogs who snap at fingers are more inclined to take food from an open palm without biting. 

If your pet is gradually learning to take food gently from the hand but hasn’t entirely passed his or her graduation of etiquette, then do yourself a favor when loved ones come and don’t have them feed the dog. Either that, or if they must give a treat, have them practice with a flat palm, or toss the treat onto the ground to avoid any confusion or injury. 

Have some tips on how to teach your dog to avoid this? Please share your stories below!

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