Shannon from Head Office and Maddi sitting with dog treats

Puppy Training Tips! How to get your pup to take treats gently.

If you’re one of the 3.2 million households that has added a furry member to your family, you may be working on some training techniques! Our We Love Pets Reading West’s director, Amy Pearson, is an experienced dog trainer, and has several tips for getting your dog to take treats gently.

How do I teach my pup to take treats gently?

Follow these quick and easy steps:

  1. Hold the food between your thumb and 2 fingers in a pincer grip. 
  2. Let your puppy sniff the food but don’t move your hand towards their face. (Imagine what you would do if someone shoved a forkful of food at you!)
  3. If your puppy mouths or bites at your fingers try to keep your hand still (moving it will make your pup want to chase it, don’t worry it will not last long!) and wait them out. 
  4. When they stop mouthing and start just licking at the food you can release it into their mouth.
  5. Use your marker word to mark the moment your pup starts gently licking the food – this will let him know that he’s got it right.
  6. Practice by feeding some of your dog’s food this way daily.

Your dog likely won’t change their behaviour overnight, so be sure to practice this regularly with your pooch and it will teach them that they only receive the treat when they’re being gentle! It’s also worth noting that some dogs snatch more when outdoors, which can be a sign they are a little anxious about their surroundings. If this happens with your pup, start by dropping or throwing treats instead of hand feeding them until they become more confident outdoors.

Now I know what to do, but which treats should I use?

There are a lot of treat options on the market these days, so how do you choose the right one? Many big brand treats are high in fat content and use artificial preservatives – which are lousy for your dog’s overall health. So, be sure to check the label on treat packages and screen the ingredients before purchasing. Treats that are high in lean, cooked protein, have nutritious vegetable content, and include enriching vitamins and minerals are best. We recommend these treats from We Love Nutrition, which offer a range of grain-free and functional treats that help round out your dog’s diet.

Bonus tip: finding a treat flavour that your dog especially enjoys will help make your training more effective!