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How do i teach a puppy to take treats/rewards gently instead of grabbing them

August 23rd, 2008, 02:56 PM
I'm a bit stuck here. i know it can be done, but i've looked in dog training books in the library, and in some that i already have, and there isn't anything on it. what do you do. i know dogs that snap at your hand to get a reward as soon as they can, but there was this lovely little black labrador X collie called Skippy who would wait until the treat/reward was just next to her mouth, and that she would very gently almost lick it off your hand. she was so lovely!!!!:lovestruck:

but i'm getting a puppy in a few days, and need every little scrap of info, so glad if anyone can help


August 23rd, 2008, 05:20 PM
One thing I've always done is simply not let go of it if the dog doesn't take it nicely. Yelp loudly if the dog hurts you and take it away. Use a command such as "Gentle" to remind the pup to be nice, and reinforce this command with lots of praise when your dog takes a treat nicely.

Another thing you can start practicing is "Wait", by putting a treat on the ground in front of the dog and not allowing them to take it until you trell them it is "Free". This reinforces for the dog that YOU control the treat supply and being greedy is not in their best interest, otherwise they don't get anything.

August 23rd, 2008, 06:44 PM
My MIL's dogs (daschunds) will take your arm off up to the elbow if you have something tasty in your hand. The only way they won't is if you turn your hand over and gently touch their nose first. Not sure why it works, it may just give them a pause or may warn them that it's coming their way and they don't need to fight for it.

August 23rd, 2008, 08:39 PM
I've noticed, too, that if you offer a treat too high or from too far away, the 'take' is harder. If puppy has to extend or lunge forward for it the fingers tend to suffer for it. :D So when you offer the treat, make sure it's low enough and close enough for her to reach it.

August 23rd, 2008, 09:59 PM
I hold the treat really tight and only allow a very small bit through my fingers, so the dog can't just grab it, and I will not let it go until he is very gentle.

August 23rd, 2008, 11:34 PM
I trained mine the way happycats mentioned. Only show them a small bit of the treat and say "gentle" and make them lick around the treat first. Keep saying the word "gentle" and never allow your puppy to snatch it from your hand.

August 24th, 2008, 08:23 AM
I have this problem with my America Eskimo. As noted by other posters, if treat is held down to pup's height so that he doesn't have to jump high to grab it, it makes a real difference. My Eskie of course has the long snout - and VERY big teeth for a 22 lb. guy. Eskies do not have "lips" - and so if they have to jump, their is a good chance the teeth are going to graze your hand. I keep telling people this, but since they all have big dogs who don't need to jump - or have they have lips that allow a more gentle taking of the cookie, my suggestion seems to fall on deaf ears - unless of course said people happen to have a short dog. At 22 lbs. my guy isn't that small, but compared to say a Boxer or a Rotti, he is - and they are the dogs he is in cookie competition with once a week. He is also afraid he is going to be lost in the crowd when cookies are passed out, being so much shorter - and he is right, I have seen it happen. Re the comment about Dachshunds, I sure understand how that works - although it never happened with me - my Alphas were very dainty at least when it came to me. With my Eskie, a friend came over - and Eskies are not especially partial to unknown visitors, but she held the cookie tightly in her hand and bent over so he wouldn't have to jump. Eskies' paws are very hand-like and he very gently pried open her fingers with his little hands to take the cookie.

August 24th, 2008, 06:43 PM
I did the same as Happycats, it seems to have worked quite well.

August 25th, 2008, 10:37 AM
Thanks guys. Anything else on that, perleeeaaase let me know:thumbs up

September 8th, 2008, 10:50 PM
Hi Soter. Great advice from everyone here. I find them to be so helpful and supportive!

May I just add one suggestion... when I first got my puppy I had the same issue. He was too excited for the treat and wouldn't take much notice to fingers in the way! Instead of holding the treat out for him to just grab, try holding it in your closed fist and letting him smell the treat through your hand. Depending on the treats you may have to roll it around in your hand first to get the smells going. He'll probably nudge your hand a bit, in excitement. If he nibbles, pull away and say "Nice" or "Gentle", whatever word you prefer, and hold your fist out again until he calms a bit. As he is SLOWLY grabbing the treat, repeat the word "Nice.... Nice". Be sure to praise him with lots of pets and cuddles. Soon he will learn he gets the treat when he calms down and doesn't grab at it. My dog is 3 now, and I still give him his treats this way. He knows right away when he see's the low fist, to sit and be "nice".
I did a lot of these hand signals with keywords while training my dog. I can point to the ground and he will lay down. Raising my arm from my side (with elbow bent) straight ahead of me means sit up. An open palm means stay. I can even just mouth the words "sit" "stay" "nice" and "down", without speaking, and he will comply. I didn't do it intentionally, but it sure worked out great!
Good luck with the treat training. The trick is to not make the treat accessible until he is acting how you need him to (calmly!).