Working with your dog to teach him how you want him to behave is a fun and exciting part of dog ownership. It helps to build a tighter bond while you spend quality time with your pet. However, some dogs are grabbers and the fun ends when you offer him a treat as a reward. For most dogs a treat is the best motivator, but you don’t want to have to count your fingers each time you offer a treat. It is possible – and not that difficult – to teach your furry friend to be gentle and not grab treats.
There are various reasons why a dog will grab treats or toys from your hand, and it’s important to figure out if the behavior is due to fear, frustration, anxiety or aggression. Anytime a dog that is usually good about not grabbing treats suddenly begins to snatch a treat from your hand, it’s a sign something could be bothering him. You may need to figure out what’s causing him to be anxious or fearful. Any sudden change in a dog’s behavior indicates you may need to talk to your vet or get help from a professional trainer or animal behaviorist. Some dogs may grab the treats because they’re afraid that another dog, or even the cat, will take it first. A dog that’s overly excited is also more apt to snatch a treat.
As with all training, you need to stay calm, be patient and use positive reinforcement. It’s important to be consistent and keep reinforcing a “gentle” command each time you give a treat. Understanding who your dog is as an individual is also a plus. Don’t give your dog a treat if he’s pawing at your hand, mouthing or trying to snatch it.
Satisfaction is that good feeling you get after finding a solution to a difficult problem. We all have “eureka moments” when all of the pieces fall into place, allowing us to finally figure something out. According to new research, dogs also have eureka moments. Your dog’s favorite treat is the “paycheck” that canines prize – along with the opportunity to earn it. The treat is the motivating factor, but working for it is just as important to canines. It seems that humans are not the only species to get satisfaction and pleasure from completing a challenging task.
Researchers in Sweden tested 12 Beagles paired up into six groups. Six different pieces of equipment were introduced to the dogs. When used correctly, each piece made a distinctive noise to indicate when the task was completed. An example of equipment used included playing a key on a toy piano, pressing a paddle lever that rang a bell, and pushing a plastic box off a stack that made a noise when it hit the floor. In each pair of dogs, one was an experimental dog and the other one was a control dog.
After all 12 dogs were trained, they were taken to a testing area where the equipment was set up. At the entrance was a holding area where each dog waited to perform their specific task. An assistant led him to the starting arena, then turned their back and gave no interaction or instructions to the dog.
With all the talk about breed specific legislation and blanket statements about which dog breeds have a propensity for being dangerous, it’s especially important for people to train their dogs to be polite. My personal opinion is that a dog’s ability to get along with other dogs and other people rests largely in the hands of the human. Sure, certain dog breeds were bred for specific traits so it’s still in their DNA, but I believe with a solid training plan and loads of patience, discipline and high-quality treats like CANIDAE Pure Heaven biscuits, a dog can be taught to get along well in society. As such, it’s important for the responsible pet owner to teach their dogs to make good decisions and behave in a socially acceptable manner. Here are a few of the basics, to get you started.
Be Firm and Consistent
Start out with plenty of rules, because it’s easier to ease up than it is to tighten up. In other words, it takes much more effort to teach a dog to “un-learn” a behavior that’s already ingrained. As an example, if you’re not sure whether you’re going to let your pet onto the sofa, then start out teaching him that the sofa is off-limits. If you eventually decide that you want to snuggle while you’re watching television, then you may choose to allow your pooch onto the furniture – but only when he’s invited. See, if you would have started out by letting him sit on the sofa, then you would be stuck because it would be difficult to train him to stay off once he’s gotten used to getting on the furniture anytime he wants to.
When I was approached to blog for CANIDAE, being the dog lover I am, I was definitely interested. I will not, however, write for a company I know nothing about or back a product I have had no experience with.
I checked out the CANIDAE website and liked what I read about the products and the standards they reach for in both quality and a healthy line of products for dogs and cats. That told me they actually care about the animals. But the ultimate test with any food is whether or not my dog likes it. In the past, I’ve had some issues with getting her to eat. She has turned up her nose up at other dog food and treats and only finally ate them when she got overly hungry.
CANIDAE sent several different samples of dry food and treats for Neela to try, and quite frankly, I was astonished at her instant positive reaction to each of them. It was funny to see how excited she got and how eagerly she ate everything she tried. Here is the experience from her point of view.
My name is Neela. I am a blue-nosed Pit Bull puppy. Mom says I am a nosey parker. I simply have to know what is going on with everything and everybody, you know. I mean, that is part of my job isn’t it? Read More »
There are days when I take a break from my home office, walk into the den and shake my head at the mess. And it’s not a human mess. You see, we have a chest full of dog toys in the den and on cold, wet mornings or insufferably hot days when the dogs don’t want to play outside, one of our pooches inevitably empties the entire contents of the chest onto the floor. The result? Our den is turned into a Doggie Toyland!
I had to find a way to remedy the situation. A local dog trainer suggested I teach my dogs to pull their own weight around the house. Here are the basics for teaching your dog to clean up his toys:
• Consolidate your dog’s toys in a container with a wide mouth; an open plastic tub, cardboard box or giant basket will work. Make sure the toy container’s sides are low enough that your dog can simply drop a toy into it.
• Place the container in a location that is easy to access. Put some thought into this step because you need to keep the chest in that location so your dog will always know where to find the toy chest. Moving it around will confuse him.
• Begin this exercise when all the toys are scattered on the floor.
• Locate your dog’s favorite toy on the floor and call him to you. Coax him to take the toy in his mouth and walk with you to the empty toy chest.
• Point at the treat inside the chest and encourage the dog to take the treat. As he is reaching for the treat his mouth will open. If he successfully (accidently) drops the toy into the container, say your command simultaneously. We use the words “clean up.” If you clicker train your dog, click as you say the command. Then praise your dog for a job well done.
• Repeat this portion of the exercise (in short spurts, over several days or weeks) until your dog understands that “clean up” means getting a toy, carrying it to the basket and finding a hidden treat inside.
• Once he’s solid on that, stop hiding treats inside the basket. Start handing the dog his treat after he puts away each toy. Then slowly draw that out, offering a treat only after he puts away two toys, etc. Your goal is to get him to put away all of his toys and then get his reward.
Alternative Training Methods
If your dog is already solid on fetch and retrieve, you can build from there.
• Reinforce the basic fetch-and-retrieve exercises.
• Strengthen the “drop it” command when your dog brings the toy/ball to you. Work on linking fetch, retrieve and drop it. Our dogs know they have to drop the toy at our feet for the playtime to continue so they do it automatically.
• Once your dog is clear on the fetch- retrieve-drop exercise, stand behind the chest and toss a toy for your dog to retrieve. When he brings the toy back he should theoretically “drop it” into the chest. Practice this exercise until the dog understands that the toy in the chest equals praise and a treat. While giving praise and treats, say “good clean up” to reinforce your command words.
• When your dog clearly understands he gets a treat when he drops the toy in the chest, move further away from the chest and issue the command. Continue to move away from the toy chest and offer enthusiastic praise when the dog drops a toy into the chest.
You may want to practice variations of this, including pointing to toys and instructing your dog to “clean up.” Your dog should eventually be able to put his toys away with a few simple commands.
Does your dog do his share of the housework? We’re still working on all of this, so I’ll let you know how it goes. Next, I’m going to teach our pups how to mop.
Top photo by lindyi Middle photo by star5112 Bottom photo by Alden Chadwick
Before you can begin to train your dog, you need the right kind of motivation. Some dogs love food more than anything else, some enjoy being stroked/petted, and some will learn a command to play a game of fetch or tug of war. All dogs love to receive praise for doing a good job. But is one reward better than the others when it comes to the best way to motivate your dog?
Over the last several years, I’ve had opportunities to talk with many people who work extensively with dogs. Among them: an officer from the Denver Police Department who works with canines trained to detect explosives; a dock diving dog owner who uses the sport to raise awareness for K9 cancer; and another dog owner who trains his dogs for Schutzhund competitions. Each person emphasized the importance of knowing your dog as an individual to find out what motivates him to learn. Most dogs need more motivation than just praise, and some dogs look forward to playing as a reward after training sessions.
There is a debate among dog trainers concerning the use of treats versus praising as a reward. Some believe giving treats is a form of bribery, and once you start rewarding with food it means if you don’t have a treat the dog will stop obeying commands. On the other end of the debate are trainers who say just petting and praising a dog isn’t as effective of a reward for the majority of dogs. Read More »
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, firm, corporation or brand names, in this blog is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. All opinions in this blog are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company.