I Can Take a Treat From a Stranger

Shy pup taking treat from a stranger (The Pooch Coach!)


Most dogs love treats!  But sometimes, when they are scared or excited, they refuse even their favorite snacks.  Here is some info to help you understand how dogs take treats, and the stages they go through in accepting treats.


Using treats is a great way to help shy and fearful dogs learn to love new people… But why can’t some dogs take treats when they’re distracted, scared, or upset?


Charlotte has fear of new dogs and new people. She even barked at The Pooch Coach and ran away when they first met. But, fairly quickly, Charlotte was willing to sit for a cookie for The Pooch Coach. They soon became fast friends.


Of course if your dog is actually aggressive and it is possible that they might bite someone, you should not try this yourself. Always work with a professional!

However, if your dog is just shy – especially a young puppy – using treats to get them comfortable with new people is a must!


Some people will say that their dog is too afraid to take treats sometimes. That’s OK too. That lets you know how scared they really are.


Here are the stages of dogs taking treats that you can watch with your own pup to see where they are on the frightened scale:


  1. Feral. Runs away from everyone and won’t even come close to take a treat. Just like a feral animal in the woods.
  2. Is willing to sniff the treat, but not willing to take it. This means they’re not too scared to come close to a new human (or other object) and are interested in treats, but still too frightened to take one and eat it.
  3. The dog takes a treat, but then drops it. This means they really do want the treat, but they’re still too nervous to chew and swallow. One of the things I jokingly point out here to people is that, if you had a gun to your head, you wouldn’t be thinking of a snack at that time. Similarly, dogs who are under stress will not be able to accept food. But, this also gives you a new goal with steps to improve upon until they can finally get to the last step…
  4. Easily takes treats from people (and/or around previously scary things) and gobbles them up.


Here is some more information on the best way to use treats with training and behavior modification with your pup: .