Hand Feeding Exercises
Simply using your dogs regular food for training and socialization can improve the bond and teach your dog to be more loving and confident with people. All it takes is patience, a lot of treats, and a little bit of Zen.
Starting training right away, the moment your dog walks in the door, by setting boundaries and rewarding good behavior like going to the bathroom outdoors. Everyone in the family should work on socialization and bonding exercises and learn how to give a treat without your puppy nibbling or biting them.
Young children and friends should participate with socialization exercises, playing games and learning how to give your puppy treats under close supervision. Training your puppy to be patient with taking treats will help them bond with you and make good associations with his new family.
When you bring your puppy home they will be confused and try to mouth, bite, and suck on fingers, hands, hair…anything they can get their little mouth on. A young puppy was dependent on their mother for nurturing, protection, and food and those things need to come from you now. Hand feeding your dog their meal is a hack to ensure you remember to train a little bit each day, bring treats on walks, and embrace rewards-based training.
Taking Treats Gently
Teaching your dog to take treats from your hands has some very nice side effects. Hand feeding games reduce unwanted play biting and nipping. Ideally, your puppy is learning to gently (and patiently) take food from your hands. Treats makes training fun for your dog and can improves obedience. Imagine daily play sessions where your puppy learns to gently take food from you and your children’s hands instead of trying to nip, chew clothes, carpet, or the couch!
Pro Tip: Do NOT hand feed all your dogs meals! The majority of your dog’s meals should out of a bowl. Take 1 meal-a-day to dedicate to training and bonding games. Use feeding and treats as a way to teach your dog patience and that acting calm and relaxed earns them treats. If you feel like your dog is becoming demanding contact your Zen Dog Trainer right away.
Rewarding and Socialization Exercises
In addition to rewarding good behaviors with positive reinforcement, use treats to socialize your puppy to new people, places, and things.
Simply hand-feed your dog outside on walks, when meeting new people, or getting used to city traffic will boost your dog’s confidence! Treats for confidence is especially important with getting your puppy comfortable with people entering your home, loud trucks, and other city noises.
Ensure treats are a reward and not a bribe by saying “Yes!” (once or twice) in a positive voice BEFORE giving your dog the reward treat!
On walks, by remembering the treats, you can reduce how much stuff your dog eats from the ground. Teach them to focus on you instead of constantly searching the ground for things to put in their mouth.
How to: Call your dog’s name — say “YES!” if they look — and reward them for focusing on you! (See: Name Game)
Can you give too many treats?
Many people worry about using too much (or any) food during training. However, you really can not overdo the treats and rewards. Think about how you feel when you get a raise or bonus at work. Can you imagine if your someone doubled your salary? Tripled your salary? All that extra recognition and compensation might make you feel motivated and happier with your job and work.
Food is one of your dog’s primal needs and a strong motivator. To really take training to the next level, we recommend that in addition to hand feeding kibble, you use some of high-value treats for training.
Most owners waste an opportunity twice-a-day by giving their dog bowls of food in exchange for nothing. Use regular meals and kibble during obedience training, socialization exercises, and taking treats from your fingers and hands.
Hand feeding kibble creates more opportunities to socialize your puppy, make training fun, and deepen the bond you have with your dog.
Use treats and rewards to improve socialization and encourage your dog to expect good things from people!
For more puppy training tips and advice, check out our Free Puppy eCourse with training plans and solutions for: house training, preventing separation anxiety, and more!