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The power of hand feeding for training your dog

Hand feeding is the not-so-secret method used by many dog trainers that all dog owners should know about. It's the fastest way to build a bond with your dog to make all your training quicker, easier and more effective. Vicky Carne, The Dog Coach, introduces the power of hand feeding.

This article was written by a FirstVet vet


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The power of hand feeding for training your dog

What is 'hand feeding'?

Obviously, it involves feeding your dog by hand! Not from a bowl. But you won’t just be handing the food over – you’ll ask your dog to do something first in order to be rewarded with a mouthful of dinner. Your dog will be learning while they earn their daily rations.

As you’ll soon discover, your dog will enjoy the process and, hopefully, so will you.

Practically, it is easier if your dog has dry food but you can hand feed whatever type of food you provide. It may just be a slightly messier process!

If feeding raw, I'm sure you already know you have to be very careful to wash your hands and clean and disinfect any surfaces or food preparation tools you've used.

If you prefer not to directly handle 'wet' food, there are options. You can use disposable gloves, a spoon, or squeeze it through a pastry bag or reusable food pouch.

Is hand feeding really worth the bother?

I know you’re wondering. Well, firstly, using your dog's meals for training gives far more opportunities to reward, without overfeeding. You can add in the odd treat for variety too!

Hand feeding is the quickest way to develop a relationship with your dog so they really want to work with you and learn the skills you're teaching. And, while I’m sure your dog loves you just for being you – you will inevitably become more interesting when all their food comes directly from you in exchange for fun training activities.

It won't take many days of hand feeding for your dog to pay you a great deal more attention whatever else is going on; vital when you need your dog to come when called! As an added bonus, your dog will also learn better manners around food.

So, although you might be a bit irritated if you were asked to stand up, turn round or wait before each mouthful, dogs have evolved to work for their food (yes, even lap dogs).

So, whether you have a young puppy or an older dog, if you want to strengthen your bond and improve their manners while enriching their day, try a few weeks of hand feeding. Slightly longer meal times now will save you many hours of training in future.

Could training help your dog or do you want to know more?

This article was written by Vicky Carne, founder of The Dog Coach. Contact Vicky via the website for more information about hand feeding, and other ways to train your dog. Please follow this link to book a puppy or dog training video appointment.

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