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    6 - Ensure appropriate eating from the hand

    6 - Ensure appropriate eating from the hand

    Many dogs learn to grab food from the hand, which is both unpleasant and painful. It makes good sense to teach your dog how to be confident and gentle when taking food offered by hand; even if he has already learned the art of snatch and grab, you can still teach him better manners using this exercise.

    Ouch! Cookie grabs for a treat!

    When you off er the reward, keep it trapped under your thumb

    1. With palm facing up, trap a piece of food under your thumb and offer it to your dog.
    2. If your dog tries to grab it, keep your hand and especially your thumb very still and release it only when he slows down and softens his mouth to take it.


    If your dog mouths your clothing or hands the second he gets wind of a treat, teach him the ‘off’ exercise – way 14.

    Cookie learns that the only way to get the food is to calm down and be gentle

    7 - Use eff ective rewards

    Different dogs value rewards in different ways. Some love to work for food, while others prefer to work for a game with a specific toy; some may enjoy both equally. And then, of course, there is also verbal praise and physical contact.

    Grade the value of treats that you give to your dog. For example, he may come to you for a biscuit when you call him in your home but when there are other distractions outside you may need to give him a higher value reward, such as a tiny bit of his favourite food. The same applies to toys. Find out which of his toys your dog rates the highest and vary the toys you use when working with him to keep him interested. The most important thing to remember is that a reward needs to be just that – a real reward for the dog, and therefore must be appropriate for the environment that he is in at the time and for the precise moment that you want him to respond. Give your dog regular mealtimes (see way 2), then the additional tasty treats that you offer will become more valuable. A few special toys that only come out when you play together and that are put away while your dog is still keen to continue with the game will become more highly prized than that old smelly chewed thing that has been quietly rotting in the flowerbed through the winter.


    Don’t always have food available and all his toys around so your dog can help himself when he wants. If he can do this, he is less likely to be excited by food or toy rewards. If he has constant access to everything why would he be motivated to work to earn them?

    Your dog may not come to you for a biscuit when there are other distractions…

    …If this is the case you will need a higher value reward (don’t panic we aren’t really suggesting you buy a chunk of beef)

    From 100 Ways to Train the Perfect Dog, Copyright by Sarah Fisher, licensed through ContentOro, Inc and used by arrangement with D & C

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