Jump to content

A confession

Autumn & Lola

Recommended Posts

As a child, my family had two dogs, but I wasn't all that involved in their care.

I had my last dog, Mandy, for 7 years and have had Molly for 10 months.

Please don't laugh, but I have never been able to feed a dog from my hand. If it is something long (like a bone, bully stick, etc.), I can hand it to her, but I can't just put a treat in the middle of my hand and let her eat out of my hand. I don't know why, but I've never gotten over the fear that she might accidently bite me when she took the treat. When I give her treats, I just lie them on the floor for her to take.

There is no rationale for my thinking. She's never bit or even nipped me and she is very gentle and loving. I kiss her on the nose and put my face right up to hers and she kisses me. So I am not afraid to put my face right up to her mouth, but for some reason, I am afraid to have her take a treat from my hand!

It sounds ridiculous I know. A friend of mine once fed our last dog, Mandy, out of her hand, and she had never owned a dog before. She wasn't afraid at all. My husband feeds Molly treats from his hand, as well as her heartworm pill. It's not just that Molly is relatively "new" to us. Even with Mandy, who I had to nurse back to health numerous times in her last few years, I was apprehensive. (Mandy never nipped or bit anyone in the 7 years we had her).

Any ideas how I can overcome this fear? It seems so silly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All of us have fears that would don't bother other people. Have you thought of wearing a thick leather glove to give her a treat, just to get used to the action of her taking the treat from your hand? Maybe then you could progress to thinner gloves and then none?

Molly must be understanding of your fear, since she waits until the treat is on the floor. I don't think Zekey would be that patient -- once the treat gets in nose territory, he claims it! I was surprised though, at how gently he takes something like a goldfish cracker in his teeth!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

there is nothing ridiculous about your feelings. the first thing i'm going to say might not be very comforting: she might well accidentally bite you while taking something from your hand. if she does, it will hurt. that's all. she isn't big enough to maim you, and cairns don't grab and hold on, like pitbulls. if she gets you she will let go immediately. it will sting like the devil. you'll live.

the good news is that that's all that will happen. if she bites you she will be more careful afterward, and you might be more philosophical about it. cairns are extremely quick and very impulsive. they do sometimes nip people by accident (and if they don't know it hurts you, they might nip playfully). one way to minimize the danger of getting nipped is to always feed with your hand completely open and whatever you are offering lying flat in your palm. molly will not have to avoid your fingers when grasping it, and no little pieces of your hand can accidentally get under her teeth.

there is nothing worse than imagined pain, i understand where your fear is coming from. i hope you get more confident with molly without getting bitten. but sometimes the only way to get over the fear of the imagined fear of a bite is to actually get bitten. we don't want that! but real pain is rarely as bad as imagined pain, so fit he worst happens, you can probably look forward to a little bandaid and a big relief.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I totally understand. I have a serious fear of deep water. I will panic if I can't touch the bottom or sides of a pool. It's been this way since I was pulled from the bottom of a pool when I was 3. How scrwed up is this, I love swimming and have a inground pool in the back yard. I've spent years doing laps to help calm my fear.. but even to this day, I will have a twinge of fear when i'm in the water.

You might want to try having her lick your hand first... put some peanutbuter on it... get used to her mouthing your hand.

Or you can try putting a half a hot dog in your fist and only letting a tiny bit of it stick out...so she can't bite it but has to lick and nibble to get it.... This is how I feed Bratt from hand... he is bad about being hand fed and just tries to gobble it up...getting a finger or two of mine in the process... Mett on the other hand just opens his mouth and lets you put the food it....figures he's my chubby dog! LOL

Tracy, Amos, Walter, Brattwrust & Mettwurst a.k.a The Gremlins

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Its not a silly fear at all - I would never hand feed a dog I didn't know and since you've never stuck your hand right up to Molly's mouth, you essentially have no personal knowledge of the safety of doing so.

I think Tracy's suggestion is an excellent one. I think of what I was taught as a child - when meeting a dog for the first time, always allow it to sniff the back of your hand with your fingers tucked in first. If you are comfortable with molly doing that, add just a touch of PB and she'll likely lick it. If you become comfortable with the back of your hand move to then next part of the hand that gives you the least apprehension and so on.

Another idea - if you are comfortable handing her a bully stick, you could progressively choke your hand up higher and higher on the stick as you hand it to her until only a little treat size is left sticking out.

A word of caution about the leather glove idea - my dog sees leather gloves as chew toys. There is a chance that the dog won't make the connection that part of YOU is inside the glove.

Good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No, not a silly fear at all. I won't go outside on even a second floor balcony. No way. No how. I would put a big glop of liverwurst or peanut bitter on your hand, close your eyes, hold out your hand and wait to see what happens.

Good luck.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I was little, I was so afraid to feed my grandfather's horses. He liked to cut up apples for us children to take out and feed the horses from our hands, and the adults always warned that you had to hold your hand perfectly flat or the horse would bite you. My hand was so small and the horses mouth was so much bigger.

The first time we fed them, I walked out to the pasture with my parents, walked up to the horse, held out my hand with the apple wedge and closed my eyes. I could feel the whiskers from the horses nose as it rooted around to see what I had. Then I could feel its tongue. And that was it. In one swift move, the horse nosed my hand nabbed the apple and was crunching it peacefully with no damage done to me, save for a slimy hand. I was given another apple, stuck it out in my open hand, cringed, and still came back with my hand. By the time the bag of apples was empty, I was watching the horse take it and petting it while it ate. As I got older, I would even take things out to the horse on my own, or pull grass from the yard to feed him. Sometimes I would even tickle the tip of his nose while he stood to let me pet him.

I guess my point is that some things seem really daunting when all we do is think about them - and understandably so! But, the only way to know what will happen is to just take the risk and find out.

Perhaps, since you are already in the habit of putting the cookie on the ground, you could put the cookie down but hold onto one small corner of it - away from where your pup would even grab it. With time, perhaps you would feel comfortable to hold more of the cookie while it is on the floor, or even begin to pick it up off the floor and eventually feed your dog from your hand.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I like the glove idea immensely.

I used to have problems with Micki biting me when I'd give her treats. She was just so afraid she wouldn't get her fair share, especially after the pups arrived. The dog trainer suggested this:

Hold a few morses of dry food in the palm of your hand in front of the dog. She could smell it but, of course, she couldn't get it until I opened my hand. Slowly I'd open my hand saying, "Easy, Easy" as I opened. If she was easy, I'd open and give her the food. She'd take it very gently...a tickle on your hand. If she was grabby, I'd close my hand and start again. It worked for Micki.

You may want to keep that in mind AFTER you do the glove thing and get used to giving bites. They all get excited at some point and have the potential to nip.

Good luck.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you all for your great suggestions (and for not making fun of me! LOL!)

I did manage to feed her two treats from my hand in the past week! Now I seem to be nervous again. I don't know why. The first time, I just felt her teeth a tiny bit as she took it out of my hand. She was very gentle. She kind of looked at me like, "Um, what's the problem?" ;) The second time she kind of licked it out of my hand. Again, very gentle. So the fear is all mine. She doesn't do anything that makes me think she'll nip or bite. I guess I just have to keep working on it!

Thanks again everyone.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.


  • A meeting place and
    online scrapbook for
    Cairn Terrier fanciers.



  • All posts are the opinion and
    responsibility of the poster.
  • Post content © the author.
  • Create New...

Important Information

Site Guidelines | We put cookies on your device to help this website work better for you. You can adjust your cookie settings; otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.