Some pups are naturally gentle with their mouths. However, others need a few lessons to achieve this skill. To accomplish a more subtle bite from your best friend, try teaching the cue "gentle" when she takes the treat. It's also important to choose a treat your dog will enjoy to ensure she is ready to learn the "gentle" skill. As a general rule of thumb, save her favorite treats for the end of the training session to keep her interested and avoid becoming disenchanted during the middle of the behavior training.
To teach your best friend to know "gentle" use the following steps:
Step 1: Hold a Bil-Jac training treat in an open palm of your flat hand and offer it to your dog.
Step 2: If your dog begins to chomp as he grabs for the treat, pull the treat away.
Step 3: When she stops nipping and approaches to lick your hand (or even gives a very gentle nibble), say "gentle" and hand her the treat as her reward.
Step 4: Tip: Only provide treats to your dog using the "gentle" cue. Likewise, commit to taking the treat away all together if poor behavior persists. Reinforce no treat if she doesn't follow the "gentle" cue.
Dogs learn by continuous stimulation, so continue to say "gentle" each time you offer her a treat to begin the association with the word and the behavior. If she has a relapse and returns to her former chomping ways, pull your hand away and then offer the treat again, using the cue "gentle" throughout to reinforce the good behavior.
Consistent, positive, reward-based training works well for maintaining calm and getting your puppy through her teenage months. You want to be your puppy's center of attention and the person she wants to please, and looks to for love and satisfaction. Be sure to check out more of our training tips here. You can also check out our training videos from, Hollywood Dog Trainer and TV Show Host, Joel Silverman here.