Why do dog handlers put treats in mouth?

Answered by James Kissner

Dog handlers put treats in their mouth for a variety of reasons, but it all comes down to one main purpose: to capture and maintain the dog’s attention during training or certain tasks. While it may seem strange or unorthodox to put treats in one’s mouth, it is actually a common practice in dog training.

The idea behind using treats from the handler’s mouth is to direct the dog’s focus towards the handler’s face. By having the treats in their mouth, the handler ensures that the dog keeps their eyes and attention fixed on their face, rather than getting distracted by other things in the environment. This helps establish a strong connection between the handler and the dog, making it easier to communicate and give commands effectively.

Using treats as a form of positive reinforcement is a widely accepted and effective technique in dog training. Dogs are naturally food-motivated, and treats serve as a powerful incentive to encourage desired behaviors. When a dog performs the desired behavior, such as sitting or staying, the handler rewards them with a treat. This reinforces the behavior and encourages the dog to repeat it in the future.

So why put the treats in the mouth specifically? Well, there are a few reasons for this. Firstly, it provides a convenient and easily accessible location for the treats. Having the treats readily available in the mouth allows the handler to quickly and efficiently reward the dog’s good behavior without fumbling for treats in pockets or bags.

Additionally, putting treats in the mouth can create a stronger bond and trust between the dog and the handler. Dogs have a keen sense of smell, and they can detect the scent of the treats in the handler’s mouth. This creates a unique association between the handler’s face and the reward, reinforcing the dog’s focus and attention on the handler.

Moreover, using treats in the mouth can help establish a clear visual cue for the dog. The dog learns to associate the presence of treats in the handler’s mouth with the possibility of receiving a reward. This visual cue can be helpful in situations where verbal commands might not be as effective, such as in noisy or crowded environments.

It is important to note that not all dog handlers use this technique, and different trainers may have their own preferred methods of positive reinforcement. Some handlers may choose to use treat pouches or other containers to hold the treats, while others may use toys or praise as rewards instead. The use of treats in the mouth is just one approach among many, but it has proven to be effective for many dog handlers.

The practice of putting treats in the mouth during dog training serves the purpose of capturing and maintaining the dog’s attention. By focusing the dog’s attention on the handler’s face, it helps establish a strong connection, reinforces desired behaviors, and creates a visual cue for the dog. While it may seem unconventional, this technique is widely used and has proven to be effective in training dogs.