How to Teach a Dog to Eat a Snack From Off Its Noseby Judith Willson
This trick demonstrates immense restraint.
After your dog has mastered basic training and a few simple tricks, such as fetching and sitting up, it might be time to move up a level. A dog needs to exercise a high level of self-control to resisting eating a snack on his nose until you say so, making this at least an intermediate-level trick. Be prepared to spend a fair amount of time teaching this one, even if your dog learns remarkably fast. Once your dog learns this sort of impulse control, though, he’s ready to start on the advanced stuff.
Command your dog to sit and stay to start each training session. Follow with the “look” command so that he maintains eye contact. His attention should be on you rather than the treats.
Place a couple of small treats, such as pieces of kibble, in the palm of your hand. Hold your hand flat, palm up a foot or two from your dog and say “wait.” If he tries to take the treats, close your fist and withdraw your hand a few inches. When he stops trying to take them or looks away, say “take” or another simple command and give him the treats. Repeat several times each session. In the next session, wait while he ignores the treats for a little longer before telling him to take them. Have a short session every day or couple of days. Once he completely ignores the treats until you say “take,” he’s ready to move onto the next stage.
Hold a treat right in front of your dog’s nose and say “wait.” It might be helpful to close your fist over the treat the first few times you work on this part. Again, wait until he ignores the treat before saying “take” and giving it to him. This stage will also require several sessions – it requires an enormous amount of self-control for a dog to ignore a treat that’s right in front of his nose.
Say “wait,” balance a treat on your dog’s nose and say “wait” again. After a couple of seconds, say “take” and let him eat it. Keep the period between “wait” and “take” very short for the first few sessions, gradually extending the time.
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- Small treats
- When you start actually balancing the treat on his nose, it may be helpful to hold his jaw the first couple of times. Release him when you say "take."
- Avoid making your dog wait too long -- certainly not more than a minute -- before letting him take the treats at each stage and when showing off later. He might be demonstrating enormous patience, but don’t make the trick too uncomfortable.