I refer to them as “shark teeth”; the dogs that about take a thumb with the treat when they go to get their tasty morsel. Young puppies have a tendency to do this, but this can happen with older dogs as well. If this sounds familiar than this blog is for you, but even if you don’t have a dog that takes treats hard, you may run in to this situation in the future.
Many times dogs take treats hard because they never learned how to softly take treats, but It’s important to recognize when dog takes treats hard it can be an indicator of stress or excitement. My dog, Boy, doesn’t typically take treats hard, but there has been times we were are in public doing a training demo and his treat taking becomes harder than his normal gentle self. I know that he is uncomfortable in the environment. It is, at that time, that I change the picture for him. Meaning, I will adjust the environment to make him comfortable like creating more space between us and a group of loud children. Other times that dogs can take treats hard is if they are excited. This happened to Boy a few weeks ago with a piece of steak and I had to bring him back to Mother Earth by reminding him to be “easy.”
Remind them to take it easy and sometimes this is all it takes. If I can see a dog is excited I will say in a drown out way E-A-S-Y as I hold up the treat. Then I hand it to the dog. If the dog still goes for it hard I will turn my hand in.
Exercise for taking treats softly
You will need a larger treat- a biscuit size is perfect.
- Hold on to the treat with your hand, cover most of the treat, except for a small portion of the end. Allow your dog to nimble at it.
- Gradually move your hand and give more of your treat to your dog as he nibbles.
This is a simple exercise and one that you can do while watching TV.
Other quick fixes in the mean time:
While you are teaching your dog to take treats softly, I am guessing that you will still be in the training process using treats, so here are some quick fixes in the mean time.
Teach him to catch the treat
I like to teach this whether or not a dog takes treats hard. I get lazy in my training and don’t want to always bend over to hand a dog a treat, so I will teach the dog to catch the treat. It also pairs as a nice party trick for you. 😉
- Hold the treat in your thumb and pointer finger.
- Hold in front of the dog and say the word E-A-S-Y as you rock the treat back and forth (make sure his eyes are following.
- Throw the treat directly toward his face
- This will take several repetitions for him to get
Make sure you deliver treat like a plate
Another quick fix is to deliver the food from a hand that looks like a plate, rather from your fingers. This helps eliminate any grabbing and encourages the dog to lick the treat out of your hand.
If you put a little time and effort in, your dog will be well on his way. Does your dog take treats hard? How did you work with him/her on this issue? Share in comments below.