Some dogs take treats too hard. As in, they manage to scrape your hands painfully when they grab the goody. Usually these dogs weren’t taught as puppies what is an acceptable amount of pressure for big pearly canines on human skin. They are not trying to hurt us; they just never learned to regulate jaw pressure.
Sometimes this tendency is exacerbated by excitement (Ooh! My favorite treat!) or stress (Yikes, another dog is close by and she might also be interested in my favorite treat).
What a Professional Dog Trainer School Suggests You Do About It:
Stop letting go! Get a good hold on a treat before you offer it and only release the treat if your dog uses a soft mouth, i.e. light pressure or, preferably, all lips and no teeth. If your dog grabs too hard, say, “Too bad” or “Bummer” in an oh what-a-shame tone of voice and pull the treat away. As long as your dog isn’t grabbing for the treat, try offering it again. Release the treat if she is gentle or repeat the pull-away maneuver if not. Repeat until she gets it right. (If your dog is taking treats so hard that it hurts or even breaks skin, hold the treat in your closed fist instead of the tips of your fingers to protect yourself.)
Once you and your dog have practiced this to the point that she takes her treats gently most of the time, you can up the ante. From this point, if you offer a treat and your dog grabs too hard, she loses the treat for good—no more second or third chances to be gentle. Switch to a zero tolerance policy. (A good dog behavior class can help you and your canine better communicate through this issue.)
Remember: Consistency Is Key!
To really soften your dog’s mouth for good, you must insist on a gentle mouth every time you offer something. Dogs may revert to rough grabbing at moments of excitement or stress. Just stick to your guns in these situations and don’t release the treat until your dog remembers to be gentle.
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