If you’re looking for a simple way to teach your dog good manners, boost their confidence, and strengthen your bond, try feeding them by hand.
One of the greatest benefits of hand feeding your dog is that it’s an easy way to get your dog to start focusing more on you, and all that extra focus will make working with your dog in the future so much easier. It also has the benefit of creating some really great manners and impulse control.
Hand feeding your dog isn’t just great for training, it’s particularly useful for shy or fearful dogs because it builds trust, provides socialization, and helps boost a dog’s confidence. It’s a great way to strengthen the bond with your dog — and it’s an easy way to get your dog to really start paying attention to you.
How To Hand Feed Your Dog
Hand feeding is having your dog eat meals out of your hand. The frequency is up to you. Some people choose to hand feed the majority of their meals, while others do it a couple times a week.
How to hand feed your dog:
- Measure out your dogs meals and begin letting your dog eat from your hand
- Pull your hand away if they get too pushy
- Once they act calm again you can put your hand back down and let them eat
- If your dog refuses to eat from your hand, let him go without and try again later
- Once your dog is readily eating from your hand, you can start asking for behaviours before each handful of food.
Some dogs take easier to hand feeding than others. If your dog doesn’t want to eat from your hand, try again later (dogs won’t starve themselves). Some dogs will be more inclined to eat if they are working for the food.
How Hand Feeding Can Help Your Dog
The benefits of hand feeding you dog are:
- Adds focus & impulse control
- Works for training bite inhibition
- Builds a strong bond
- Slows down quick eaters
- Builds trust in shy/fearful dogs
1. Hand Feeding Builds Up Your Dogs Focus
Hand feeding your dog is an easy way to get your dog to focus more on you. It’s not an answer to all behavioral issues but it will build trust in your relationship. If you have a brand new puppy, hand feeding creates a quick, strong bond with your new companion.
If you’ve ever seen those dogs doing agility and were jealous of how much attention they were giving to their owners chances are some of them have definitely been hand fed. It’s a common training technique for dogs in obedience class, those practicing agility, and many service dogs in training.
Hand feeding is a great way to teach your dog to have manners around food and it helps them develop some basic impulse control.
2. Hand Feeding Helps Teach Bite Inhibition
If you’re struggling with bite inhibition it’s a perfect opportunity to teach him the commands “gentle” or “easy” in order to get more treats. Dogs that are hand fed will develop a trust and respect for the human hand.
You can practice the closed fist method to teach your dog self control while hand feeding. Put a handful of kibble in one hand and get your dogs attention. Once your dog is in front of you with his eyes on you slowly open your fist to where he could reach over and grab it. If your dog makes a move to snatch any food close your fist. What you’re trying to do is modify his behavior so he doesn’t “mug” you for treats without permission. Eventually he should realize your hand opens up when he’s sitting calmly. Once he’s given you some good focus without snatching you can reward him with the food.
3. Hand Feeding Creates a Strong Bond With Your Dog
Hand feeding can help new dogs bond quickly with new owners. If you’ve recently added a new dog to your family doing some hand feeding is a great way to start building up your new relationship.
4. Hand Feeding Helps Fast Eaters
It’s pretty obvious that being able to control how much food your dog can scarf down in one bite will slow him down. Eating too fast comes with health concerns for dogs. They’re less likely to chew up their food well. If they’re gobbling it down as fast as they can it can also lead to choking hazards.
5. Hand Feeding Helps Shy & Fearful Dogs
Dogs that have been under socialized can benefit from the bond and trust that hand feeding gives. It might take a bit of work to have a fearful dog gain enough trust in humans to happily eat from the hand. Once you’ve gained that trust you can help them out by having other members of the family or friends offer them food as well. It’ll help boost their confidence when it comes to interacting with people.
Hand feeding builds trust in your dog when it comes to food. They’ll begin to relate a fistful of kibble with positive associations. If you have a fearful dog that’s been hand feeding you can make introductions with new people less stressful by having them offer some kibble by hand.