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Why won’t dog take a treat handed to her?

Updated: October 6, 2012 1:39PM

Q. I have a rescue dog, Millie, and she won’t take a treat from my hand. Do you think she fears human hands because of a traumatic experience?

A. Chances are good Millie was dealt a bad hand somewhere along the line. You might never erase the sting but you can try. For one thing, when facing her, don’t hold your hands up in a “gotcha” manner. Of course, her reaction matters because accepting human hands strengthens the bond between you and your dog. When we communicate with our pet, we offer signs through our hands.

Your hands must become the font of all good things for your dog. Make sure your hand movements are always smooth and non-threatening.

Instead of merely proffering a treat, use your hands for sticky good. As a beginning exercise, rub them with a premium dog-delightful meat (Evanger’s chicken for example).

Just sit in a chair and hold out your hands covered with sweet meat and see if Millie approaches. She’ll probably be skittish at first but it won’t take long before, yup, she’s eating right out of your hand.

Q. I adopted a rescue dog in June 2011. Whenever I stand or sit near my husband, she growls. The dog also rides daily with my husband in his car and stays with him until he comes to bed. How do we stop the growling? It doesn’t bother her at all when we are in the bed together.

A. Of course it doesn’t bother your dog at all when you’re all in bed together because she’s the woman in the middle. Truth be told, the growling is troubling. And this expression of aggression is a problem for you to take up with your veterinarian who can refer you to a certified trainer if needs be.

It’s important to give your dog boundaries. Providing her a sleeping area of her own and making her stay there should send the message that you, your bed and your husband do not belong to her.

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