Keeping a dog at the right place for a bark is a balancing act. There needs to be enough movement forward because we want the projection into the food. However, too much projection leads to a jump. Sinking back and away is too circumspect, we want a reaching out, probing, on the verge of launching. Moving in not away.
The connection needs to be maintained, so I’ve found it often ends up feeling like trying to dangle a marionette on its strings. If the dog rises up, the hands and food can be raised, as if trying to keep the strings taut. We want the dog to pull back down to the floor, because he needs to feel more collected. If he can bark, the food is pulled in. The precursors to the bark can be licking, snorting, burping, sneezing. Listen to the breathing, it can help to feel connected. Like the Big Bad Wolf, with a huff and a puff he can bring the food down.
The master of puppets can make the marionette dance, light on the feet, but secured to the stage, not floating loose in air or dragging on the floor. The connection is invisible but can be felt in the synchronised movement and action.