Gentle: Take Things
Nicely out of My Hand

By Jerry D. Patillo, CPDT-KA
© 2015 Phoenix Behavior Consulting

Fig. 1. 60-0872

If you have a dog that bites your fingers while snapping things out of your hand, then teach it the “Gentle” command. (Fig. 1)

    • Put a treat (or food or desired item) into the palm of your hand and then close your fist. (Fig. 2)

      Fig. 2. 60-0879
    • Present the BACK of your fist to your dog, say “Gentle”, and wait it out. (You may need to wear an iron glove for this exercise!) Your dog may sniff at your fist, paw at it, bite or gnaw at it. Your dog will try its best to get the treat or item out of your fist. (Fig. 3)

      Fig. 3. 60-0873
    • The moment — the nanosecond — your dog stops trying to get the item out of your fist, click! (or say “yes!”) This marks your dog’s desired behavior – takes a snapshot, so to speak. This tells your dog that this precise instant of behavior earned it a reward. When your dog knows why it got rewarded, then it’s a lot more likely to repeat the desired behavior in the future. (Fig. 4)

      Fig. 4. 60-0878
    • AFTER you click (or say “yes!”), say “Take it!” Flip your hand over and allow your dog to take the item gently from the palm of your hand. “Take it” tells your dog, “You have permission to remove this item from my hand (or from the floor or the coffee table).” (Fig. 5)

      Fig. 5. 60-0882
      Fig. 5. 60-0882

If your dog still snaps or grabs at the item in your hand, then jerk the item away. Repeat the above steps 10 more times – maybe 100 more times! If you’re patient and CONSISTENT, your dog will eventually get the idea.

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