This is a handy cue you can teach your dog to be careful with its mouth. All too often dogs snap at hands to get treats and reward themselves for this bad behavior. Don’t let your dog bite you as it takes a treat.
If your dog is not gentle when it takes treats you can teach a cue like ‘easy’ or ‘gentle’ to help it recognize your fingers are not food. Although bite inhibition should be learned by the time adult teeth are finished growing, we can sometimes help a grabby dog to have more respect while taking treats even after this stage.
Hold a treat in the palm of your hand if your dog has a hard time with this concept. Show your dog the treat and say ‘good easy’ if the treat is taken nicely.
If your dog is rough or biting don’t let them have the treat; close your hand or remove your hand from their view and give them their negative marker word or make a noise that lets them know it hurts when they bite. Once you’ve said ‘good easy’ a few times and they’re getting the hang of it you can go on to the next step.
Hold a treat in your fingers, allowing the treat to stick out so your dog has plenty of room to take the treat without biting your fingers. As you bring the treat towards your dog make sure the back of your hand is facing your dog with your fingers up and the treat in your fingers. Say ‘easy’ and give your dog an opportunity to take the treat nicely.
If they take the treat without biting say ‘good easy’ and they get the treat as the reward. If they are not as gentle as you would like, don’t give them the treat.
They will learn through consistency and trial and error that in order to get the treat they have to be respectful about where your fingers are.
Krystal Ellingson CDBC CPDT-KSA
Krystal Ellingson CDBC CPDT-KSA, is the founder of Speak Dog, the first dedicated ‘positive’ dog training company in the Tri-City area where she lives. She is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer with both Knowledge and Skill accreditations with the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers along with a list of other credentials, certificates, and affiliations.