Offering your dog a treat may seem like a simple task, but doing it wrong can encourage undesirable behaviors and even put your fingers at risk. Below are a few common mistakes:
Mistake #1: Holding the treat too high
If your dog has to stand on his hind legs or jump to get a treat, you may be unknowingly reinforcing bad behavior. Your dog probably doesn’t understand why it’s okay to jump up on you to get a treat, but it’s not okay to jump up on people when greeting them.
Instead of waving the treat above your dog’s head, bring it close to his mouth or at chest level.
Mistake #2: Holding the treat with your fingers
If your dog gets super excited when anticipating that tasty snack, holding the treat with your fingers is asking for it. It may be an accident, but your dog could easily nip your fingers while trying to get ahold of the treat.
Close your fist as you lower it to your dog’s level. Then, offer the treat with a flat, open palm to avoid any accidental finger biting.
Mistake #3: Giving treats for the wrong reasons
Giving your dog a treat to “calm him down” when he’s overly excited, jumping to get your attention, or whining will only reinforce these undesirable behaviors.
Save the treats for when your dog really deserves them. Doing a trick, walking well on a leash, staying calm when the doorbell rings… all of these moments are worthy of treating.