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Teach Your Pup To Be Gentle

By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Breed Selection Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

SamoyedWhen food appears, many dogs are so eager to grab it that they become oblivious to your existence. From a leadership perspective, that's never good.

Therefore, with this simple exercise, you will teach your pup that treats do not randomly fall from the sky to be snatched up the instant he sees one.

Rather, treats come from his leader's hand and thus must be "treated" (pun intended!) with respect.

  1. Grasp a treat between your thumb and index finger. Fold your other fingers into your palm so they're not sticking out. With your pup in front of you – doesn't matter whether he's sitting or standing – hold the treat in front of his mouth.

    Don't hold it too high, else he'll jump for it, which is not the calm behavior you're trying to teach!

  2. Say, "EEEE-zee." Draw the word out as a long cautionary sound. If he reaches forward to take the treat politely, say "Goood" as he takes it nicely.
  3. If instead he tries to snatch at it, leave your hand where it is, right in front of his mouth, but quickly twist/rotate your hand so he can only see the back of your hand and can't see or reach the now-hidden treat. Caution again, "EEEE-zee" and rotate your hand to give him another chance to be polite.

    Rather than rotating their hand, some trainers pull their hand back, but in my experience this causes some dogs to lunge forward to pursue the withdrawing treat. I prefer to leave my hand in one place and simply rotate it to manage what the dog is allowed to see.

  4. When he realizes he can't get the treat when he grabs at it, you might actually see his facial expression change, which can be pretty funny. He will probably try something else, such as reaching out carefully and taking the treat very gently, using mostly his front teeth. Good dog! Release the treat when he takes it gently. Add a single reassuring "Goooood" as he takes it nicely.

This gentleness routine  helps your pup pay closer attention to your existence and treat you with thoughtful respect.

Also, "Easy" is a word you can use in other circumstances. I use it as a control word  that cautions a pup to be calmer and gentler. For example, I use it when I introduce a dog to something that he must be careful with (like a new kitten) so that he doesn't get excitable or engage in rough play.

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

My best-selling books – now available  FREE  on my website

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy is for puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know. Click here to read for free.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say. Click here to read for free.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life. Get my honest advice about all 11 Things before you bring home your new puppy, because some mistakes with early health care cannot be undone. Click here to read for free.