It’s a given when you get a dog as a pet, that it will bound to result in you things getting misplaced, chewed on or lost. Since it is a part of the package that comes with their adorableness, loyalty, friendship, and all good things that come with them, teaching your pet dog how to give or drop the said things they are carrying in their mouths.
What not to do
While training your dog, you shouldn’t assume the position as the ‘leader’ who would be just commanding them. They are not robots to take direct instructions. Do not startle them by shouting at them repeatedly, in some cases this might end disastrously for you.
Therefore if you want a happy dog that will gladly give or drop your item back without fighting, follow the following steps –
Step one : Trade a chew toy with tasty treat
Give a moderately interesting chew toy to your dog to play with, ( a toy that he likes but can give up on for better option). When he is occupied with the toy, bring out a tasty treat that you dog will surely prioritize. Show him the treat upfront and gesture it towards it. As soon as he drops the toy, use a clicker or show your approval (verbal or otherwise). Give him the treat and repeat the process. Giving out bonus treats to encourage the dog is fine as well.
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Step two : Trading without showing food
Once again, when your dog is absorbed with chew toy, have your clicker at ready. Do the step one for one or more times and show the dog the treat upfront.
After that once again, when the dog is with the chew toy, reach out for the toy but this time don’t show the dog treats up front. The dog will probably drop the toys, expectant of treat. Use the clicker and show the dog your approval before giving him the treat. Hold the chew toy in your hand as the dog eats the treat, give it back for few times, until the dog no longer wants the toy.
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Step Three : Use the trade methods everywhere
Practice the trade method with different variety of toys that your likes, working up to the ones he ‘loves’ to play with. Exercising trading with different treat and in different locations will make your dog, good at hanging onto items that it likes, for example bones. Choose an item that is safe for your dog and keep your practice session continuous.
If your dog, however, is showing signs of negative behavioral change (stiffness, growling, curling their lip) you must consult a professional trainer for help. Most dogs guard certain items in relative mild manner and will ease up as they get into trade sessions, but the same practice might make some dogs feel threatened or under pressure.