Dog Training Foundation – Slow Treat Zen
Slow Treat Zen (taking a treat gently) teaches your dog that doing nothing is generates rewards. In this case, NOT jumping or mouthing for a treat earns rewards. This is also a foundation because it helps you with luring and other training techniques.
Taking a Treat Gently
Dogs take treats roughly when they are excited and when people move their hands away quickly in the process. Unfortunately, then the
dog learns to move in quickly to take treats. This drill teaches the opposite behavior — holding back for the treat.
Slow Treat Zen Steps
#1. Notice that when I move the treat in, I move it back as as soon as the dog moves her head ever so slightly to get the treat on her own.
#2 Change pace. Move the treat in slowly and the pace of the treat delivery increases. The treat moves directly all the way to the dog’s mouth. Imagine delivering the treat a half-inch into the dog’s mouth.
#3 Change the angle and direction. Dogs and owners who have already mastered eye contact can move to this level.
Start at an easy level so that you are successful. In this drill that means the slow part of the treat delivery should be brief, just moving an inch or two and lasting one or two seconds before you pick up pace. It gets harder for your dog when the slow part is longer, so extend the slow part only after you have had success with a brief slow delivery.
Your dog should have many more successes than failures! If you find that you move your hand back often because the dog moves, go back to an easier level.
Your only criterion for delivering the treat is that your dog does not go for it himself. That means your dog may be sitting or standing — it doesn’t matter. Don’t ask your dog for sits or call the dog’s name to get attention. This drill teaches your dog a “zen” approach — good things happen when the dog is not told what to do.
When you are successful in your kitchen and with the dog located in front of you, try it with your dog at your side in heel position.
This drill is good for young dogs and any dogs who need to work on impulse control. It teaches your dog to work without immediate reward.
If your dog shows aggression when things are taken away, or if the dog guards food you are not ready for this this drill.
*Thanks to Deb Jacobs, Hannah Branigan and trainers for this exercise.