There are many advantages to hand-feed your dog or puppy, and there are only a few circumstances in which it’s not a good idea.
Many dog trainers hand-feed their dogs their meals throughout the day rather than feeding them from a bowl for the most of the day. Every encounter with a dog is a chance to train them. Along with catching your dog in the act of being good, setting aside a portion (or all!) of your dog’s morning and evening meals and hand delivering that food as needed throughout the day will help you increase your rate of reinforcement and create value for the behaviors you want to see more of. A puppy can continuously practice basic behaviors like sit, down, wait, come, and other polite expressions by being hand-fed.
Additionally, hand-feeding for a while can assist raise the dog’s attention on you as the handler by linking you with meals and feeding, which can help dogs who are usually confident but who have many interests, of which you are just one, or dogs who are easily distracted, pay more attention to you.
Hand-feeding can enable you and a new dog or dog and a new person in your life get to know one another.
While hand-feeding a dog can help build a relationship with them, it can also increase stress if the dog is extremely timid or scared. Similar to people, some individuals would try to bribe a timid dog with food or treats to make him more comfortable among strangers. However, what frequently occurs (especially with dogs who really enjoy food) is that the allure of the food temporarily overrides their unease about the person – but only for as long as it takes to grab the food. The intention is for the dog to associate the presence of the “scary person” (“Yikes!”) with the presence of the food (“Yum!”).
They immediately realize the “scary person” is too close for comfort once the meal is in their mouth. In this instance, the food serves less as a tool to assist in changing the dog’s relationship and more as a trap.
When dealing with the “strangers are scary” issue, it is preferable for the owner to provide meals while the “scary person” is visible but sufficiently enough away to not raise any serious concerns. If you’re trying to bond with a dog who is really timid, adopt a similar strategy by staying close enough to him so that he identifies your presence with the food, but not so close that it requires a lot of bravery (or desperation) to eat it.
Hand-feeding certain dogs may make them more reckless with food. In an effort to acquire the food, many dogs become too excited and may jump up or lunge at their owners’ hands. Asking your dog to sit while you hold a piece of cheap food in your open palm will assist you teach impulse control in this situation. Try to bring your palm up near your dog. If he approaches the meal, clench your fist and, if necessary, ask him to sit down once more. Use your opposite hand to carry food to your dog’s mouth and command him to “take it!” as soon as he can control himself as your food hand approaches.
For some dogs, “self-control” will look differently. In the beginning, self-control may require a dog who is very excited to maintain a sit position for two seconds with your open hand 12 inches above her head. If your dog has a tendency to leap up on you when you are holding food, tether her with a leash to a solid object and stand just beyond the end of the leash. Your dog will eventually figure out that being patient in the vicinity of the food is the fastest way to receive it.
Try these suggestions if your dog bites down on food from your hand too forcefully.
A dog may become averse to eating from a dish in specific situations if it is fed by hand frequently. A little “tough love” could be necessary in such circumstances. Give your dog five minutes to finish his meal after placing it in a bowl. Attempt again later if he doesn’t, then take up the bowl. When food is present, a healthy dog won’t starve himself, even if using this method necessitates skipping a few meals while he waits to see if you’ll resume hand feeding.