Hand-feeding is a very important element to the foundation of training your dog. It isn’t necessary for all dogs, but it most definitely can help with all dogs.
Who do I recommend hand feeding to? Well, the answer to that is everyone. Hand feeding your dog is like putting primer on before you paint. If you’ve adopted a new dog it helps to lay the foundation so that your dog is ready to learn and helps to quickly develop a bond. It also increases work ethic which makes training much easier.
When a dog’s life depends on it because of the lack of socialization or a lack of training hand feeding is no longer optional. A dog that growls at people in the home, a dog with a history of aggression or a dog with extreme fear would all be examples of a dog that hand feeding maybe a requirement of successful behavior treatment.
Dog food has monetary value to dogs. No, I don’t mean dogs go shopping at Petco with bags of kibble, but imagine that a piece of kibble is the equivalent to a $1 bill, a moist training treat is the equivalent to a $10 bill and a piece of diced hot dog is the equivalent to a $100 bill.
Now, imagine I asked you to run 10 ft for $10 would you do it?
The answer may vary depending on what you’re willing to do for that amount of money. Okay, now I’m asking you to run 10 miles for $10. Chances are if you said “yes” the first time you’re going to say “no” to the second time.
Just like humans, dogs vary on what they’re willing to do for different dollar amounts. In humans we refer to how hard somebody is willing to work for a specific dollar amount as work ethic. Now imagine that there is a college student whose parents give them an unlimited amount of allowance. How hard do you think that college student would work if they were asked to go get a job at McDonald’s versus somebody who had no other source of income?
Feeding out of a food bowl is the equivalent of a free financial allowance. You can bet that this free allowance will affect your dog’s work ethic. That’s okay for some dogs. Some dogs have a naturally high work ethic and will do a lot for just a tiny treat or a tiny piece of kibble, but if the dog has a major behavior problem or struggling with socialization your dog will need every ounce of work ethic we can get.
Handfeeding doesn’t have to be one kibble at a time. You can handfeed a handful at a time if you are in a hurry.