Have you ever watched a dog show on TV and noticed the dog owners putting a treat in their own mouths as they show the dog in front of the judges?
Does this behavior seem strange?
Does it seem weird that humans are putting dog treats in their mouths?
What do the dog handlers have in their mouths? Is it treats? Why do they do this? What’s the reason?
Let’s find out.
Why Do Dog Handlers Put Treats in Their Mouths at Dog Shows?
When showing their dogs, dog owners put treats in their mouths to keep the dog’s attention focused on the owner’s face to put the dog in a good posture for the judges.
They use human food, such as chopped-up hot dogs or pieces of steak, and always pick something the dog enjoys.
If you know anything about dogs, you will know that most of them are obsessed with treats!
Dog owners use treats to train and control their dogs.
This is very important in dog shows as they want judges to see their dogs in the best possible way.
By putting dog treats in their mouths, the owners know that the dog’s full attention will be focused on the owner’s face.
This focus on the owner’s face creates what dog show handlers call “expression.”
By this, they mean that the dog’s posture, facial expression, and body language look focused, intent and impressive.
So dog owners do this because it is an effective way of getting their dog into an excellent position and posture to give them the best chance to impress the show judges.
Also, some dog owners believe that the dogs value the treats more if they come from the owner’s mouth.
To the dog, it seems like their owner (and the pack leader) is sharing their food with them.
If this is correct, the perception of added value means that the dog is even more likely to behave well and be rewarded with such a highly valued treat.
NOTE – If your dog always wants to eat, you might find this post about why dogs are always hungry useful.
It’s Also Really Handy for the Dogs Owners
Dog show handlers have a lot going on in the ring.
They have the dog to control. They need to make sure it looks great.
They have the leash in their hands. They sometimes need to hold the dog’s head and tail.
They might have a spray bottle, a cloth to wipe off the dog’s drool, and a brush to fluff up their coat.
They must also consider themselves and ensure they look good alongside the dog.
So there is a lot to do with their hands!
Keeping the treats in their mouths can free up their hands for other jobs.
Some owners even spit the treats into their dogs’ mouths to save using their hands!
This might sound crazy, but if you watch carefully, you will see some dog handlers doing exactly this and spitting treats to their dogs during the show.
NOTE – Click here to read this post if your dog ignores you.
What Sort of Treats Do the Dog Handlers Use?
Most handlers will use treats fit for human consumption rather than regular dog treats.
They will go for what are considered high-value treats.
High-value treats are treats that the dog really likes, so they have a powerful effect on the dog’s behavior which is useful when the doing is being shown.
So they might use chopped-up chicken, beef, or slices of hot dog sausage treats that are safe for the owner to put in their mouths and that the dog also really likes.
Which can be any type of human food item the dogs love that is not unpleasant for the dog handler to have in their mouths.
The treat must also be solid and firm enough to be thrown or spat out to the dog.
Note – You might also like this post which answers the question – why do people cut off their dog’s tails?
What do Dog Handlers Have in Their Mouths?
At dog shows, dog handlers keep treats in their mouths. Typically these are high-value treats that the dog really likes.
They use the treats in their mouths to control the dog’s attention while still keeping the handler’s hands-free for other tasks related to showing the dog.
NOTE – You might also want to read this blog post asking the question: do dogs like eating ice?
Final Thoughts On Why Dog Handlers Eat the Treats In Dog Shows
Dog owners don’t eat the treat, but they keep treats in their mouths at dog shows to focus the dog’s attention on the owner’s face so that they have good posture expression and free up their hands for other tasks.
To finish off this post, here is a short but fun video of humans actually eating dog treats!
Just click the image to start the video:
That is the end of this post answering the question – why do dog handlers put treats in mouth at dog shows?
If you have any questions, please feel free to comment directly below, and we will respond asap.
NOTE – Before you go, why not click here to read a post answering the question: how do dogs know to be gentle with eggs?
Tim is a proud, vetted, and experienced dog foster carer for a charity helping dog owners escape domestic abuse.
He has years of experience training and caring for dogs, both his own and other people’s.
He is an expert in canine behavior and is highly skilled in dealing with all dogs but specializes in the difficult ones that other people may struggle with.
When he isn’t fostering dogs, he is making friends with other people’s pups!