One of the most important lessons puppy owners can teach their new family member is that hands are wonderful things.
When hands are great, life with a puppy is much easier. If, however, the puppy feels that hands are not great—hands grab him, correct him, groom him, brush his teeth or otherwise only do things that are not liked—then life with the puppy is more difficult. Plus, in that frame of mind the puppy will begin avoiding your hands, ducking away from them, or he may even begin nipping toward hands.
Give Your Puppy Food by Hand
In years past, many trainers told dog owners to never hand feed a dog; that hand feeding would spoil the dog. Today, however, knowing more about dog behavior and how dogs learn, trainers have changed their advice.
When you feed a puppy by hand, offering a piece of food and encouraging him to take it gently from your hand, you can teach him food manners while showing him that your hands are the source of food. At each meal, hold your puppy’s bowl in one hand and with the other offer your puppy a piece of his food. You can teach him a verbal cue, “Okay, have a piece,” and extend your hand. If the puppy takes it gently, praise him. If he tries to grab, bite or paw the food out of your hand, close your hand around the food. He gets it only when he’s gentle. Don’t pull your hand away as that will cause him to chase your hand to get the food.
Giving him a third to half of his food at each meal is great. Then give him the rest of his meal and let him eat in peace. Don’t give him his meal and then mess with it or take it away. Just leave him alone.
Touch His Collar
Far too often, puppy owners touch their puppy’s collar at only two times: times of stress and times of excitement. The first is to attach the leash. The puppy, anticipating a walk, and not knowing any manners yet, won’t hold still and hooking up the leash becomes difficult. The second time the collar is touched is if the puppy is needs to be restrained. If only unwanted things happen when his collar is touched, the puppy learns to guard his collar and not let the owner touch it. Making a game out of touching the collar can prevent this avoidance and guarding behavior.
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