I have a poll to the right of the page asking everyone what they would like to see more 0f. The first two answers I received were Training Rants, so I thought I'd oblige (please vote to add your opinion so I can work with what you want). This one is one I've been stewing over since I ran into it in the summer while working with a dog that was housed at a boarding facility.
A comment was made that started me thinking about something that I ran into earlier this year; Smacking, bopping or hitting your dog if it snaps a treat out of your hand. I have known many people who hit their dog for the wrong behaviour. It is not a training tool I use or condone. Unfortunately, it is usually used because the people don't know a better way to train.
Have you heard the expression "A Little Bit of Knowledge is Dangerous"?
Here's my example ...
I know a person who breeds and shows dogs who showed me his way of fixing snapping. You know how a dog will sometimes snap a cookie out of your hand? Maybe take it a bit too hard and bite your fingers? Well, his fix is to make a fist (with the cookie in it, of course) and bop them hard on the nose. He guarantees me that it fixes the problem every time! He did admit that sometimes they bite their tongue, but he assured me that it doesn't happen often and that it doesn't usually bleed. *Yeah, 'cause that made me feel better!*
*Asshat* This same guy teaches the dogs to jump up and gives them cookies as a reward for that, so I've already been disappointed by his "training" techniques. Yes, he's moronic. And like so many dog owners out there, is too busy looking for the fastest way to train rather than the best way to teach.
Ok, so I'm not one to be bopping any dog on the nose for this or any other behaviour. Honestly, there are some dogs that come in that I work with that you don't do anything other than feed cookies and "make friends" for the first while. (I'll post a short story about one soon!)
I am a rather average sized person. I have never found force to work with any factor of dog training. I am not loud and don't have a commanding voice. Thing to remember is ... you don't need to be big, scary or mean for the dog to listen and do what you ask. You just have to ask the right way!
What techniques have you found to resolve the snapping cookies behaviour?
I have used the closing your hand on the cookie (but NOT bopping the dog!!). I have also used "Gentle" or "Be Gentle" where you offer the cookie and if the dog is too assertive, the hand is withdrawn. Though I have used this successfully, I have found that both of these techniques used with the wrong dog will actually increase the snapping as they get more worked up when you remove the reward. Like every technique, you have to be careful.
I have also found that if the dog is calm, the chances of a snap for a treat are less likely.
Some of the dogs I work with don't get handed treats. You just don't put your hand that close to their mouths in the early stages either because of safety reasons or because you just can't. (Keep in mind these are the ones that are cowering in the corners of the kennels, can't be put on leash, may try to attack you in the beginning, you can't get near, etc.) Unfortunately, that means you end up tossing the treat to them, which also means they snap it out of the air. I usually try to aim the cookie for the floor in between both of us to reduce the catching, but that doesn't always work. (Like all things in life, you need to pick your battles.)
Akin to all behaviours, cookie snapping is a learned one (I'm sure there is a better word/name for it!). If the dog uses it, and it works, he/she is rewarded and will use it more often.
We can only hope that dog owners can get the word out that hitting your dog teaches it nothing but frustration and may create worse behaviours than the ones you are trying to eliminate.
So do yourself and your dog a favour and don't be like all those owners out there, looking for the fastest way to train. Find the best way to teach. Trust me, it will give you marvellous results when you are done.