My dog is distracted
Try working right before mealtimes and switch to a high-value treat (i.e. cheese, chicken, hot dog or lunch/deli meat). Initially begin in a low-distraction environment and keep the training session short (no more than 2-3 minutes)
My dog runs away
Keep quite a few treats in your hand so when you feed one, the dog can see there’s another one right behind it and feed that one almost immediately as well. If the dog is still quite skittish about even taking the food from your hand at all, then sit down on the floor and place a few treats in a row on the floor leading to your hand. A few treats are laying in your open hand for them. Once they take those, place a few more in your open hand. Once they take those as well, scoot back a little and place another treat in your open hand. Do not reach for their collar or make any motions to touch them other than letting them eat from your hand.
Keep your hand down at the level of the dog's nose or even just an inch below that so they don’t feel the need to jump. If the dog jumps as you were bringing your hand down to begin the exercise, quickly remove your hand up towards your shoulder so it’s very high up away from the dog. The farther it is, the less likely they will try and jump for it. Once the dog has their feet back on the ground, quickly bring your hand back down before they jump again.
Biting my hand
To prevent, first try holding the treat wedged between 2 of your fingers, palm side up. This way the dog needs to use a small mouth to get the treat to avoid engulfing your whole hand. It’s more difficult for them to see where the treat ends and your fingers begin when we hold the treat at the tips of our fingers. You can also give an “Ouch!” when they bite and then adjust your method of holding the treat to help them be successful in taking food from your hand.
My dog doesn’t follow me
Try placing the treat on the floor right in front of your feet. As soon as they take the first step, “Click” to let them know that motion is what you want. Try this again after you take a step backwards. Take another step back, but this time hold the treat in your hand but close to the floor. When the dog takes the first step, again “Click” and treat. If the dog is sitting, but looking at the treat on the floor or in your hand, try and wait. Often, dog’s self-control is quite limited so they usually will stand up for the food once they see it’s not coming closer to them or going away.
The most common mistakes
- Pulling on the collar/leash to encourage following
- Saying “come” at the same time (That is a separate exercise than this)
- Asking for a certain behavior such as “Sit” or “Down” first
- Only beginning this exercise after they’ve done something wrong and you are now working to get their attention.
- Initially place a few treats on the floor in a row towards you. “Click” when they begin to walk towards each treat. Finish with a few treats in your hand as the “Jackpot” (a lot of tasty treats) reward.
- Take the dog’s meal bowl and have them see you scoop out a handful of food and present it to them. If they don’t take it and walk away, then put the food back in the bowl, put it up and try again later.
- Sit down on the floor with a few treats in your hand and lay your hand on the floor with it completely open and flat. Hide your other hand behind your back so they are less nervous they will be “grabbed”. Keep your clicker in this hidden hand. When the dog takes a step, “Click” and let them eat. Then scoot back a little, place more treats in your hand, and again lay your hand flat on the floor. This way they get used to eating the floor still from a floor level, but it’s on your hand instead of the floor itself.