Sunday, January 25, 2015

Food and Your Fingers

Does your dog take treats from your hand gently or do you fear for your fingers? If you said the latter, you are not alone!

Sometimes a dog’s excitement will get the better of him around food. It’s nothing personal, but dogs do need to learn manners around food and our fingers.

To Chomp or Not to Chomp

Why are some dogs gentle with food and others not? There could be different reasons, such as:

  • Excitement level
  • Untrained
  • Competition with other dogs

It’s best to address this as soon as you adopt your pooch. There are different ways to teach your dog to take treats or any food gently. Try all of them and see which one works best for you and your dog.


If your dog is nippy or if you adopted your dog as a puppy, you have probably used the “Ouch” method to soften his mouth around you. That comes in handy when giving him a treat. If he forgets and gets a little overzealous you can use the “Ouch” which usually will cause him dog to back off.

Closed Hand

Place the treat in your closed hand with your palm facing up. Bring your hand close to your dog’s nose and let him sniff your hand. Then slowly open up your hand and let him take the food out of it. Your fingers will be safe however this method is a little sloppy as you almost always end up with a wet palm.


Hold the treat with your fingers and bring it down to your dog’s nose. When you get close wave the treat past it around in a circle or up and down close and watch his nose follow it.  After a couple of seconds you can let them take the treat. If you wait too long, you will have the opposite effect.

Bear, Judique and Effie sit nice for a treat.

In all fairness my senior dog Bear was gentle from the day I adopted him and has never once compromised my fingers when taking food from my hand. My young Huskies are much more exuberant and excited around food. 

I practice recall often outside with them and since I really like my fingers, it’s important they accept treats gently. I often call them by name or whistle when they are the furthest away from me in our large back yard, so you can imagine how fast they come barreling towards me. They definitely live up to their Husky trait of being awesome runners. Suffice it to say when they get to me they are more than ready for their reward. I've used all three methods but I have to say the wave method worked for me almost instantly. When my timing was right, the dogs took treats so gently.  

Keep your fingers; teach your dog to be gentle!

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