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rdgpjen 01-20-2014 08:43 PM

Softer mouth...
Hi folks! Looking for expert advice. I've got a 9 month old neutered male, sweet boy. We're working some leash reactive issues plus reinforcing lots of basic obedience. We have no yard so he gets walked A LOT! We like to use treats/kibble as rewards, but our hands are getting turned into hamburger! Kidding! But not that much! We're working with him to not take treats that aren't worries there, but we have no idea how to make him take things that are offered a little more gently. Especially in a quick timely manner to make the reinforcement effective. We offer a treat, he clamps down and we pull our hands out of his mouth, dragging out fingers and thumbs through those gorgeous pearly whites! After 15, 20, 30 times, this is no longer an easy thing! Thanks for any suggestions! (Our fingers thank you, too!)

pjvie 01-20-2014 08:47 PM

My puppy does the same thing, so I usually drop the treats I give my dog. But I understand that this is not convenient at times.

Have you trained leave it? It may help reduce reactivity. Hold treats in your closed hand and let your dog sniff it like crazy, command "Leave it", and reward as soon as your dog stops. I feel like this might reduce his reactivity. At the very least, you have a way to make your dog back off if he's going too strong. Just be prepared to outlast a persistent dog.

doggiedad 01-20-2014 09:06 PM

i taught my dog "don't snatch". with my dog sitting in front
of me i would offer him a treat. i took my left hand and placed it
on his chest as a method to hold him back. i offered the treat.
when he jumped forward for it i held him back with my left
hand and said "don't snatch". i did this all of the time. it was
a part of training. sometimes i held the treat in front of him
close to his mouth. i slowly increased the time before i gave
him the treat . once he caught on it didn't matter if it was
a biscuit, fresh meat, chicken, etc he didn't snatch the treat.

train, train, train. if you don't them doing it train them not to do it.
no matter what it is.

Nigel 01-20-2014 09:17 PM

You can try hold the treat in your fist and give it to him only after he settles. I place the treat between my middle fingers and offer with an open palm. Some treats stay in place a little better than others so figure out what works for you.

ladyb 01-20-2014 09:40 PM

I use the word "easy" and offer her treats first with a closed fist, my fingers toward me and away from her. She will then have to gently work her way around my closed hand to mouth or lick the treat out of my hand. When she's been gentle, I open my hand. Works for us!

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lennyb 01-20-2014 11:21 PM

Our 18 week old gsd rescue who we got last month would just about take your fingers off. I also used the easy command and fist method. Within a week he's gentle as can be now taking treats.

bibaxt 01-20-2014 11:44 PM

I use the closed fist method while saying "easy" it's worked great on one if my boys but the other is still a snatcher, I got hard treats and smeared peanut butter in them, held in for dear life while telling him " easy" once he settles and is gently licking I let him have the treat, this is working good for him.

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Blanketback 01-21-2014 12:46 PM

Make sure nobody's accidently reinforcing the snatching. Sometimes people will yank their hand back if they think the dog will snap at their hand getting the treat, and this makes it worse, lol.

rjstrotz 01-21-2014 04:28 PM

Use the word 'GENTLE' when you give your dog his treat. Put the edible treat grasped inside your hand and hold up your fisted hand to the dog's nose then say the word GENTLE... then when the dog is merely sniffing at your closed fist, slowly open your fisted hand so the dog will gently take the treat.

I always do this when I have a "fantastic" treat in my hand... otherwise my GSDs are soooo overwhelmed and excited about their doggy treat that their teeth will overpower. You need to tame their enthusiasm for the special treat.
They will soon learn the word GENTLE to mean a slow, gentle taking of a treat from the human hand.

Chris Wild 01-21-2014 04:48 PM


Originally Posted by Blanketback (Post 4875986)
Make sure nobody's accidently reinforcing the snatching. Sometimes people will yank their hand back if they think the dog will snap at their hand getting the treat, and this makes it worse, lol.

Agree. This is a very common response but it does reinforce the snatching. If you're going to move the hand at all, move it forward a bit so that he bonks his nose when he lunges for the treat and that alone can help him learn to be a bit more careful.

The closed fist technique and teaching a clear "be gentle" command combined with never letting him be rewarded for taking them in an ungentle manner will work but it takes time. You might want to work on some basic impulse control training exercises as well as this can help both with the treat snatching and with the leash reactivity as they help dogs learn to curb their impulses. There are some good videos on YouTube, such as Susan Garrett's "It's yer choice", for getting started with that.

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