How do I encourage my pup to take treats gently during training sessions for recall/heel/etc?

Discussion in 'Labrador Puppies' started by McGuillicuddy, Jul 16, 2019.

  1. McGuillicuddy

    McGuillicuddy Registered Users

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2019
    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Canada
    I've been working with our now 10-week-old pup on recall and loose-leash walking/heel using many of the tips I have learned here and in the Happy Puppy Handbook. One thing I'm wondering about is how to treat the pup during training sessions in a timely manner (i.e. as close to a click possible) while at the same time encouraging him not to bite my fingers/hands in the process.

    We've done some of the exercises to encourage him not to mug the hand (e.g. as in the Puppy Challenge sticky link above) but when you're trying to mark good behaviour it seems like it could be counter-productive to make him wait/make eye contact/whatever before he receives the treat. So I feel like any of the good manners training we've done goes out the window when we're in the backyard working on recall/heel/etc.

    Any thoughts on how a newbie like me can reconcile this?
     
  2. McGuillicuddy

    McGuillicuddy Registered Users

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2019
    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Canada
    I guess one solution would be to do all treating during training by putting it on the ground. That would allow quick treating without having him be "unlearning" any of the good food manners that we work on at other times.
     
  3. TEE

    TEE Registered Users

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2019
    Messages:
    38
    It is all about how you hold the treat. Initially but it between your index and middle finger. That way the dog can only get it with his tong and will be more gentle. If you hold it between your index finger and thumb the dog can use his teeth and you will find it less gentle. Also withdraw the hand if the dog is not gentle. Will quickly learn to be gentle as otherwise no treat
     
  4. Jo Laurens

    Jo Laurens Registered Users

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2018
    Messages:
    1,321
    Location:
    Jersey, Channel Islands
    For recall, you can just use a toddler spoon - because the best recall treats are squishy and messy treats!

    For heelwork and other exercises, experiment with the way you are holding your hand and fingers - try holding it flat like you would feed a horse.
     
  5. LoopyLuna

    LoopyLuna Registered Users

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2018
    Messages:
    190
    We had (still have a little) this problem, and here's what I did if it's any use.

    Initially while we were training behaviours, for anything where I was rewarding facing the dog (e.g. sit), I would hold the treat in my fist and when she'd stopped mugging, I would open my hand and feed her like a pony (as per Jo's suggestion). For times when we were feeding to the side of the dog (e.g. loose lead, heel work, finish) then I would feed out of the side of my hand while it was in a fist (the opposite side to my thumb) so I kind of dispensed food out of the back of my fist if that makes sense. There weren't any digits for her to grab although it was a bit inaccurate.

    In the meantime, separately to training the other behaviours, I spent 5 minutes every day teaching her to be gentle taking treats. Holding the treat between finger and thumb and not releasing the treat until she was gentle (almost licking it out of my hand). This took a few months, and is still a work in progress. But I can treat her with finger and thumb from the front and the side now with a lot less snatching.
     
  6. McGuillicuddy

    McGuillicuddy Registered Users

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2019
    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Canada
    Thank you for the input. One thing I have noticed is that I have to be more careful about getting my hand down to the puppy's level especially when treating during heel work. If I just reach down casually he has to lunge up to get it which leads to a rougher take. If I get it right down the take is more likely to be gentle but there is definitely room for improvement here.
     
  7. LoopyLuna

    LoopyLuna Registered Users

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2018
    Messages:
    190
    It may not be the right approach, but I just leave a little space between marking and delivering the treat. If it looks like she's about to leap up for it, then I keep my fist around the treat and wait for her to take it nicely. Sometimes I'll even stop and let her take it from a seated position. Alternatively you just have to be bloody quick with getting the treat down to her. Maybe try the mechanics of it without the dog there so that you can get a bit of practice of whipping the treat down to your knee quickly.
     
  8. leighxxxx

    leighxxxx Registered Users

    Joined:
    May 29, 2018
    Messages:
    167
    I generally mark the behaviour first, just with a good boy or could use the clicker, then take the treat out of pocket or pouch etc. He knows from the mark that the treat is coming
     
  9. KVS1

    KVS1 Registered Users

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2019
    Messages:
    1
    I had this and now drop treats if I need it to be quick onto the ground e.g. with the 'sit' mark with 'good' drop treat, but also taught the word 'soft' as others have said held the treat in my fist and then when he stopped trying to get the treat opened my hand and gave it from the palm of my hand if he didn't take it slowly and softly closed my hand again when I say 'soft' now he literally mouths it up with soft lips no teeth at all! We worked on this a lot and I sometimes do it a few times at the end of the training sessions to calm him down and mark that he needs to slow down and relax and be 'soft' I read some advice on doing this online using the word 'gentle' but somehow 'soft' came easier to me!
     
  10. WillowA

    WillowA Registered Users

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2018
    Messages:
    333
    Willow used to snatch treats out of my hand so I held the treat as I offered it then took my hand away and said nicely she soon learnt to take it gently or I held the treat back until she was calmer.
    This only took a few times before she realised she only got the treat when she didn't snatch it.
     

Share This Page