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Grasping “Easy”

Grasping “Easy”

by Dr. Carla Case-... on Mon, 01/07/2013 - 8:58am

Submitted by Lisa A. Yackel, CVPM, PHR

Hospital Administrator at Case Veterinary Hospital

 

Is there an adorable new puppy in your household to start out 2013?  The word of caution about not purchasing a puppy for a Christmas Day surprise is out and that is a good thing.  However, many people do get a puppy around the holidays and, making training part of your New Year’s resolutions is a must. 

Start right away with working on “easy”.  Those needle sharp teeth are difficult enough to avoid without having the added enticement of food to the arena.  We want the puppy to take the treat without getting in any extra meat from our fingers!  This is especially true if there are children involved.  It can become very scary for them and they will often snatch their hand away with the treat, causing the puppy to get even more excited and snappy. 

Begin teaching the puppy how to properly take food from a hand by waiting until your pup is well fed and somewhat tired out.  Use a treat that is not necessarily his favorite and put it in your palm where he can see it.  Close your hand over the treat and ignore the puppy trying to get at it.  (Some people have been known to wear gloves when they are training this behavior!)    Once the puppy has a calm moment, offer the treat on your palm and say “easy”.  Give high praise if the puppy takes the treat without being over excited or nippy.  Repeat until your puppy understands that only gentle taking of the treat gets the award.    Further training would be graduating up to offering the treat between your fingers and saying the word easy before allowing the treat to be given.  Working from a “sit” command on this is also helpful although they often go hand in hand as you teach sit with treat offerings. 

I usually don’t allow my puppy to interact with children and food until this command is mastered.  Again, it is frightening for a child to have a puppy snatch food from them and the child can quickly become viewed by the puppy as an easy target to get treats or food from. 

Of course, this is only one of the many lessons new puppies need to be taught.  We highly recommend using Animal Behavior Network (found on our website at casevet.com) to get more advice for other training tips.  Your veterinary hospital healthcare team is also an excellent resource for questions and concerns.

Enjoy that new family member and stay strong with all ten fingers intact!

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