Do you ever lovingly share a bite of your food with your dog, or offer her a treat for a job well done, only for her to bite your fingers?
I’ve realized that there’s a few ways to stop this from happening, and that it’s only partially a training or self-control related issue.
Why Small Dogs Snatch Treats
When I’m giving Cow and Matilda a treat from the kitchen counter, Cow always takes hers gently with the softest mouth, while Matilda snatches it up like a shark.
I always feel those little teeth when I’m standing and I’m not bringing the treat down to her level.
When she has to stand on her hind legs to reach the treat, she’s off-balance as she reaches for her treat, and she can’t help but snatch.
If I remember to bring the treat much closer to the ground so she can reach it without standing she’s in a more relaxed position and there’s no need for her to snatch.
Proper Treat Distribution
Offering your dog a treat with a pincer grasp using your thumb and forefingers is a sure way to get nipped. Your fingertips wrap around the treat and it may be difficult for her to see where the treat ends and your fingers begin.
To avoid getting nipped, offer your dog a treat when an open, upward-facing hand. When she takes the treat from the flat palm of your hand, she’ll be much less likely to bite.
Training Your Dog To Take Treats Politely
At times you may still need to give your dog a treat in a way that promotes nipping.
You can encourage gentle treat-taking by pulling the treat away or turning your hand so your dog is unable to access the treat when she’s being overly enthusiastic.
To do this, you’ll need to watch her closely to anticipate when she’s about to snatch the treat. You can often tell from your dog’s body language when they’re in a rush to grab it.
You can also practice concealing the treat in your hand so your dog has to use her tongue to remove it from your hand.
Teaching Kids To Give Treats
As you can see, preventing your dog from biting your hand when you give them a treat has much more to do with treat delivery than manners.
If you have kids, teach them to give a treat out of their open, flat palm at the dog’s eye level.
You can also try using bigger treats, or even scattering treats on the floor for a fun treat party. Scattering treats is a great way to give your dog a big reward for being extra-good, and it’s an easy way to give them some mental stimulation.