Picture this. You’re out on a stroll with Fido when suddenly you see him dive for something in the gutter. The next thing you know he’s happily snacking away. As you try to pry open Fido’s jaw, he quickly and furiously swallows. Too late!
If your history of removing things from your dog’s mouth is through force, you can potentially teach him that you mean bad news each and every time he has anything worth an ounce in his possession. You could teach him to potentially be a resource guarder. Some dogs are also resource guarders because of a strong genetic propensity to defend their valuables as a survival mechanism. Either way, this exercise is meant to teach him that there’s no need to worry about you taking his stuff. The way to do it is to convince him that it’s wonderful to give things up to you by playing a game of trade.
Step #1: Toss a toy for your dog so that he is enticed to grab it with his mouth.
Step #2: With a treat in hand, calmly walk up to him and ask him to “Drop It” politely. Hold out your trade to his side. The item you are offering Fido must be of equal value to or more valuable than the item he already has.
Step #3: When he drops his toy, mark (either with the clicker or the verbal marker, “Yes”) and give him what you’ve got. As he takes your offering, use your other hand to take his toy away.
Step #4: Give him back his toy so that he may learn that you take things away only temporarily and that he’ll get it back.
Step #5: Repeat with various objects, working with lower value items first.
Training Tip: If you find yourself asking your dog to drop objects he finds around the house all too frequently, it’s time to manage him better by puppy proofing.
Troubleshooting Tip #1: If Fido has your grandma’s medication and won’t give it up, it’s time to think damage control and put training aside. Reach into your fridge and grab the tastiest thing you can find. Toss it on the ground far away from him so that he may spit out the pill bottle and leave the scene of the crime to get his treat. Make a mental note to practice more with your dog and to puppy proof better.
Troubleshooting Tip #2: If your dog shows signs of resource guarding by hunkering down, freezing, staring at you from the corner of his eyes, and growling, stop this exercise immediately and contact us for help.
© Give Paw Dog Training LLC 2017