By Joann Neve, Pack Leader Behavior & Training
One important thing that dogs must learn is how to take treats from people gently. When taking a treat, there should be very minimal or no sensation of teeth on the person’s hand, much less any type of pinch or bite. To combat this, I have heard many people give treats to their dog while saying “gently” and many times, the dog understands this command. However, will your dog always know to take treats gently when the 5 year old neighbor comes to give your dog a treat and doesn’t know to say gently first?
That’s why I maintain that a dogs soft mouth should never be under command, it should be a natural. In order to accomplish this, you must readjust your thinking to not say gentle when giving treats to your dog. You should always give them from your fingers (rather than open palm or throwing them on the floor). You also need to start to pay attention to any sensation of teeth on skin, even if it doesn’t hurt you.
The procedure is simple. If you feel teeth on skin, simply jerk the treat away from the dog and let out a high-pitched, loud “ouch”, almost of squeal quality. Your dog will likely look shocked or startled. Present the treat again, and 99% of the time he will come at it MUCH softer again. Repeat as often as necessary, but the hard biting will likely disappear quickly. This must be followed by everyone who gives treats to your dog until he has learned a solid soft mouth.