Jump to content
BC Boards

Need advice on taking treats gently.

Recommended Posts

Hi you all, I am new here and have mostly just been browsing, but I now have an issue.


I've been working on a few things with my new puppy, Ross. He seemed to be food aggressive towards other dogs when I got him - although he hasn't minded me too much. I have a toddler, so I made sure that I was constantly putting my hands in his bowl, taking things away from him, giving them back. All sorts of things and he is fine with that. The worse he does is try to run and hide with his treat when he gets one.


He has lunged for my other dog when treats or dropped food (it happens with a toddler) are concerned - snarling even. I've been working with him on this and he seems to have calmed down a lot, to where it's just growling now and then, and often he's peaceful.


But he takes treats from my hand very roughly. This is an issue I've never had before. My past dogs have taken them gently from the start. I'm pretty sure a lot of it is probably the other dog being around, although as young as he is it kind of surprises me. I've been giving him treats for pooping outside (because for a while he was doing great at peeing outdoors but constantly pooping in the house!) so he gets them a couple times a day.


Just now I was distracted and on the phone when I went to give him one. The other dog ran up and Ross quickly snatched it from me. He actually bit me and broke skin this time - a first. I have no idea how to teach him to be gentle. I've been keeping my fist closed until he calms down and only licks - then I give it to him - and even then he snatches it away as soon as he is able.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

HI there ~

How old is your puppy? One thing you might try is giving him treats ONLY when no other dogs are near. If he felt he had to compete for food among his litter, he may carry that over to the other dog in your house.

So, try alleviating any sense he may have of needing to compete for his food, by making sure he eats and gets his treats in a place the other dog cannot see or reach. DON'T treat him where the other dog can run up and interfere. And while he is in this stage, try to minimize his proximity to the toddler when the baby has food, so that there's no chance of conflict with the other dog over dropped food. In other words, when the baby is eating breakfast, just put the puppy outside or in a crate until you're through, so there's no squabbles over Cheerios on the floor. ;)

Also, practice making him *wait* for his treats. Work on his sit/stays and make sure he's waiting patiently before you hand him anything. Same with his food. Teach him to wait while you put down the bowl.

The closed fist thing is what I use, too, and if the dog makes any contact with my hand, I give a very shrill, sharp, "OW!" as if I were yelping in pain. Often that gets their attention.

This is all I can think of at the moment, as I haven't actually dealt with a problem like this. But removing the triggers or lessening them seems an idea worth trying, and work on his patience and "earning" treats. And make sure the other dog also learns - or is taught - not to barge into the puppy's treats or food.

Hope this helps!


~ Gloria

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welcome! And what Gloria said!


If my dogs (as adults or pups) get rough-mouthed at all, they are told "nice mouth" in a stern voice and *do not get* the treat. If your pup has been being rough, he's had a chance to develop a bad habit and you will need to work at "untraining" this by doing the things that Gloria suggests.


Also, you can hold treats differently - instead of between a couple of fingers that can be nipped, hold a treat so he has to use his tongue, like between two fingers in your hand while it is being held flat (like between your index and middle fingers. Or use a treat like string cheese that you can hold between the pad of your thumb and index finger with only the tiniest bit visible to him, and make him lick at it to taste the treat.


This can be tough to unlearn. Make sure your child does not have something in her hand that he might perceive as his treat. Most of all, as Gloria said, remove any form of "potential competition" with another dog by working with him in a different room. That may help him relax and pay attention to your direction and not worry about competing for a treat.


Others, I am sure, will chime in with good and specific training ideas for this problem. Best wishes!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't know how old your pup is or how long this has been going on. What both Gloria and I wrote about is particularly applicable to a little pup or a beginning dog. Reconsidering what you said, and the fact that he was too eager, too careless, or too "guardy" to inhibit his nip and avoid breaking skin, I'd think you might want to "come down on him like a ton of bricks".


That doesn't mean hit him or anything like that. But, if he nips again, I would get him by the scruff of the neck on both sides, or the back of the neck with my other hand between his front legs for support, lift him calmly so his front paws are off the floor, put my face near his (but safe enough to avoid any reaction from him), and tell him that he "will.not.do.that.again". When he relaxes in my hands, then I'd let him down to the floor, change my tone of voice to nice, and go on about my business.


For many pups, "laying down the law" only needs to be done once or a few times, depending on how ingrained the behavior is that you don't want. And then use the other techniques to "retrain" him how to do it properly. You may find you need to revisit one or more of these techniques until he has learned his lesson.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you both for the replies. I do think a large part of it is just that he's eager, as I often treat him without the other dog near - I generally take him outside alone, by himself, to do his business - otherwise he just wants to play with the other dog. I treat him afterwards, still alone, but he just is so eager it seems. What happened last night was a lapse in judgement, I was on the phone and didn't have a treat with me when we went outside. Came back in and grabbed one, offered him my fist, and then the other dog noticed and the rest is history. An error on my part.


He is 11 weeks tomorrow.


I agree, removing triggers is easy enough. Although ideally everyone will get along grandly and food can just shower down freely :D I used to think I was pretty good at training my dogs, as my old guy (who passed away in December) never did any of these things. But now I'm starting to realize he was simply a saint.


I will try holding the treats differently and waiting for him to actually be calm. I've just been so eager to reward him for finally pooping outside :D He's doing really well potty training now, at least.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I teach a sit first to all my puppies with food. After that is solid which I'd be doing without your other dog around, and it's treat time, my que is "what do you do?" if they sit they get the treat. If not, they don't till they do. who ever sits quickest gets the treat first. I give treats to everyone when I'm potty training treating, they all hear the jar so they all win! But the outside pottier wins the treat first if they are sitting.

While reinforcing the sit I'd keep the treat in my palm where the dog has to nose my hand open. Talking smoothly and calmly as they are nosing it out of my closed hand. If it's done roughly I move my hand away. This is done without other dogs around so there is no feelings of guarding the treat. If he's really rough I'd be doing the palm thing before teaching the sit.

I also use treats to make crates great places to be. Sometimes Faye hears something that sounds like the treat jar and she runs to her crate. She loves her treat crate!


I've never tossed treats to my dogs. I think that makes for More of a hard mouth trying to catch the treat.


It seems to me that since you have another dog competing for treats it's making him feel the need to grab and run. But maybe I mis understood the OP. IF that's the case I'd also be sure I was feeding them far apart so puppy doesn't feel the need to guard from the other dog. I use the crate to feed my pup in. she doesn't need it now but that's where she goes when it's dinner time so I've left the spot alone!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks to all. Just thought that I would update that in just the past couple days, he's been doing much better. I think having him sit first has made a huge difference. I haven't tried the methods in the video posted, but I watched it and it's really interesting. I had planned to give it a shot if nothing else was working, but he seems to have taken great strides with simply making him sit first. I'm really proud of him. He seems to have mastered potty training and now this :D



Link to comment
Share on other sites

:wub: I'm hoping they'll both prick up. Mostly he keeps them down and back unless he is focused on something, so its hard telling. The one has started standing more only in just the last few days, but it only seems to really go up with "help" (such as if the wind blows it up, it will then stay until he moves it, or if he's had his nose to the ground and then lifts it, it will stay). I love pointed ears.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah! I've actually not focused much on teaching him sit because he sits automatically when he comes up to you. He typically beats me to the command, and I've ended up focusing more on the potty training and food aggression more. So simple, I feel kind of silly now for not figuring it out on my own. He is still a little mouthy, but he's definitely been much better than the full fledged chomp he was doing before.


I've been making him sit before meals too. This morning he sat right in his bowl and looked a little confused about it. So cute.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...