Learn this important technique for when dogs steal your stuff!
Isn’t it annoying when your dog grabs a piece of clothing, paper, or something else that they shouldn’t? And it gets even worse when you try to get it back and they run away! Well if you remember from the first lesson on HOW DOGS THINK, they’re not trying to be annoying, they’re just trying to play! And you might be acting like you’re playing without even knowing it! Dogs’ favorite games are playing tug, wrestling, and chasing. This lesson will explain how to get your stuff back and not accidentally make a fun game out of it!
The first thing to do is DON’T CHASE your dog! Chasing is actually one of the main ways that dogs play with each other. So if you chase, your dog will think that grabbing your sock is how they can get you to start playing. Review the lesson on HOW DOGS PLAY for a better idea, and watch this short video shows how a dog will run away from people just because they’re chasing him!
The next step is to get your dog to “trade” the item they have for something even better, like a really stinky, HIGH VALUE treat! You might be thinking that this may be encouraging your dog to steal things from you to get treats, but for now it’s more important to teach a good DROP-IT command, starting with TRADE.
Here are some examples of high-value treats that should be much more interesting that whatever your dog stole!
Now here’s where the fun starts! Take the stinky high value treat and when you can get close to your dog, holding the treat out using the “treat hand”. Put the treat RIGHT INTO THEIR NOSE. If you do this part right, your dog should be more interested in the treat than the sock and will try to take the treat instead. Now use your other hand to grab the sock while they eat the treat. It should look something like this:
When training your dog, many commands will start with a food lure. You’ll even use treats to “remind” your dog you have treats when they’re training around lots of distractions outside. When you want to lure or remind them about treats by, “show” them the treat by holding it in a flat hand and shoving it right up to their nose. There will be no way they can miss it and they will definitely be able to follow it.
Pay attention and turn up the volume on this one. Notice how we use the command “drop-it” and then wait for our dog to let go, then we give him the treat. This is how you can start building a good “drop-it” command.
We’re sorry to tell you, but your parents were right, you have to put your stuff away! The easiest way to keep your dog from playing with your socks, shoes, underwear, or whatever, is to put them away! Teaching your dog to do the “trade” and eventually “drop-it” is the “training” part of the solution, and putting your stuff away is the “management” part of the solution. Go back and review the MANAGEMENT VS TRAINING lesson on how fixing any problem requires both!
Behavior modification, for rude behaviors or fears, takes time and effort. Sometimes you don’t have the time to do training, so you should use management techniques and tools to remove your dog from difficult situations. This way they can’t repeat the bad behaviors and lose the good progress you’ve been making with training.
For example, if you want to have friends over, take the time to make sure your dog is rewarded for sitting politely, but if you don’t have the time to do that training, put your dog away as people arrive so they aren’t encouraged to jump up.
The following products will help you keep toys away from your dog until you want them to have one. Remember that your dog will get bored with a toy if it’s always lying around, so put them away when your dog gets bored and bring them back out in a week or two. A magnetic lip on the bin will keep your dog from being able to open them.
Now that your dog is doing much better with dropping whatever objects they're not supposed to have, you can start using the command "Drop-It" at the same time as showing your "treat hand". If you do this right, your dog might drop the toy, sock, whatever before you have to put the treat to their face. That's the goal!
You can also visit the page on the DROP-IT command for a more detailed explanation of this.
The best toys for teaching “drop-it” and “fetch” satisfy these needs:
Now let’s see if your dog can learn to play fetch, which is very similar to “Drop-It”! Get another object (like a stuffed animal toy) and throw it so they can go pick it up. When they come back with the toy, say “Drop-It” with your “treat hand” out.
If they drop the toy, get very excited, say “YES!”, and throw another toy as their reward (no treats needed this time). Repeat over and over for a fun game. This will help them learn for next time how much fun it is to “drop it” when you ask the first time! It should look like this:
Use 2 toys that are exactly the same. Throw one of them to get your dog to chase it and when they get back, use the “drop-it” command to get them to drop the toy while showing them the other toy. The toy in your hand should be the better one because they will be able to chase that one. If this doesn’t work, use a stinky high value treat to do a “trade” instead.