Training a puppy to take treats gently from your hand can be a challenge, for sure. Puppies are generally pretty mouthy, and don’t know the strength of their own teeth! That said, training your pup during his formative months is crucial to his overall success, and using treats as a tool to help you do so is a likely scenario. So here are some tips on how to teach your dog to take treats gently.
1. Walk before you run
Before you run, you must of course learn to walk. So why not apply the same method to treat training? If you teach your dog to take a treat from you that he needs to lick off of your hands, such as peanut butter or a drop of honey, he will get into the habit of approaching your fingers softly. With any luck, this will translate to him trying to lick a hard treat out of your hand by curling his tongue later on.
2. Speak his language
Yelping at your dog when he nips your fingers may seem silly or embarrassing, but is likely something that his very own canine mother would be teaching him, if she were raising him. If you are able to keep your hand still, (as opposed to moving it away) and look your dog in the eye accompanied by a yelp, he should understand that his actions are causing you pain. If he continues, pair the yelp or a loud “ouch!” with removing the treat and yourself, from the situation.
3. Slight of hand
One of the most common methods of teaching your dog patience and gentle treat taking is to put the snack in the palm of your hand. If you curl your hand into a fist in front of your dogs face, he will likely try and nibble at it to no avail. Once he has given up and backs away, you can flip your palm open to reveal the treat. Once your pup is able to eat the treat from your palm, he will have learned impulse control, and you will have spared your fingertips in the process!