Prevention

Trade You

This exercise is done to prevent the puppy from feeling the need to guard bones, toys, and garbage that he finds on the ground (or anything that he may nab over the course of his life that is important to you or dangerous to his well being).

Just as he may be naturally inclined to guard his food bowl, a dog may be naturally inclined to guard a prized toy or bones or dangerous (a hypodermic needle) or disgusting (a dead rotting bird) garbage that he finds. We will need to be able to safely and easily get many things out of our dog’s mouth over the course of his life.

Practice trade you in a wide range of locations. At home, on walks, in the backyard, in the park, anywhere the opportunity may arise that you will have to take something out of the dog’s mouth. The idea here is to set up situations with your puppy that are certain to happen at some point during his life.

Everyone in the family should be doing this. If there are no kids, find some to help you. Children must be supervised constantly by an adult. If there is already some inkling of guarding beginning to occur, do not enlist the aid of a child until you have successfully rid the puppy of the habit. Even then, proceed with caution!

Start by using articles that the puppy is not too attached to.

Trade You Exercise

Give the puppy the chosen article.

Say “Drop” as you take the article away from the puppy and offer him a tasty treat from your pouch. The tastiness of the treat will start to reflect the importance of the article you are taking from your puppy. Repeat this exercise five times in a row. Do this a few times a day for two to three days.

With that under your belt, move on to an article that is of greater value to the pup, maybe his favorite chew bone or stuffed animal. Remember we have upped the ante here so our trade you treat must reflect this. If the article is more important to the pup, the payoff must be of greater value. We need the dog to actually want to give something up to us since he knows that it will payoff well. Repeat this exercise often.

Once the puppy is relaxed and comfortable with a more valued article, start to trade for articles that the puppy may happen upon, sticks in the park, garbage on the street.

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Objectives

You want to be able to safely and easily take any object out of your dog’s mouth.

TIP:
  • Stay neutral, calm, and relaxed regardless of what the pup has in his mouth.
  • Never chase your puppy. If the pup has the feeling that it is something worth keeping and you shriek hysterically, this will undermine your chances of retrieving the article.
  • With articles that are unsafe for pup, ask for the drop, take the article, treat the pup accordingly and offer him something that is safe.
  • If you are struggling with more valued articles, back up and work with less valued ones again.
  • Keep the puppy successful by not having him loose in an area where he is able to get his mouth on important things that he is not going to want to give up.

On and Off

These are exercises to ensure that your dog will get off the furniture, in or out of the car, in or out of the kitchen or whatever the room in question may be, quickly and happily when you ask him.

There is a very high probability that if we do not do exercises to proof against the dog guarding a specific location, we will find ourselves in an unpleasant situation when we try to get our dog to move from that location. It is very conceivable that they will react with growls, snarls, or bites. By doing these simple exercises, we are taking huge preventative measures against such guarding behavior.

Anywhere that you could possibly need to move your dog on or off of or in and out of, should be where the work is done. For instance, the bed, the couch, and a table that simulates a vet examining table, as well as the car, the kitchen, the bedroom, the crate, and out from under the coffee table or bed. All of these areas should be considered during this exercise.

Everyone in the family should be involved with this exercise. Be sure that an adult is supervising any children.

The whole idea of these exercises is that the puppy is rewarded for going to the location that he may consider less desirable. We need to make that appear to be the more desirable spot, the spot that the dog will happily go to, because we have taught him that when he leaves a place that he may be inclined to guard, good things happen.

For example, if your dog is hanging out under the coffee table chomping on something delicious and you want him to come out and give up what’s in his mouth, you had better make it worth his while. Otherwise, you will encounter a dog that growls and bites at your hands as you reach under there to drag him out.

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Start with the puppy beside you on the floor.

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Coax the pup up onto the couch. If the pup is too little to jump on any furniture, simulate the furniture with some pillows or a foot stool.

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When he gets there, no big deal, give a few wimpy pats on the head and that is about it.

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Coax the puppy off the couch onto the floor, pat the floor, make a kissing sound, do whatever you need to do. Once the pup gets off, the good stuff happens: delicious treat, big pets and belly rubs, ohhs and ahs of admiration for the wonderful deed he has just done!
In other words, boring to get up on the couch, exciting and wonderful to get off.


In and Out

The progression of these exercises will go as follows:

  • On and off of the couch, puppy gets rewarded for getting off the couch.
  • On and off of the bed, puppy gets rewarded for getting off the bed.
  • In and out of the kitchen, puppy is rewarded for leaving the kitchen.
  • On and off of an examine table, puppy is rewarded for being put on a table.
  • In and out from under furniture, puppy is rewarded for coming out from underneath.
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Place your pup under a low table and then ignore him.

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Coax the pup out from under the table.
Celebrate him coming out from under the table with a fabulous game of hide and go seek!

Objectives

You need to teach your puppy that it always pays to get out or off of a spot that he may deem desirable.

TIPS:
  • Repeat this exercise often, practicing on any locations specific to your own doggie situation.
  • Do not omit these exercises just because you do not plan to ever allow your dog on the furniture.
  • Do not lure the puppy with food or move him yourself. Coax him verbally, use an animated voice and body posture if need be, save the food and the physical contact for rewards.
  • You will physically put the puppy on a table to simulate a vet examination. (Please read the Simulated Vet Exam for a more comprehensive description of this particular exercise.)