Is your dog inquisitive?
If yes, you might struggle with the problem that your dog wants to eat or pick up everything during a walk.
To be honest, I have never been that bothered with this behaviour as I thought it was part of wild dog’s nature to look for food whenever it is possible. Plus in a dog’s eyes it will be free, tasty and they don’t have to chase it, grab it, and kill it to get it :D
Lunch or Litter?
So why fight with nature?
Well a visit to the vets can be an eye opener! While eating MCDonalds leftovers in park can be relatively harmless, eating snails or slugs with Lungworm (Angiostrongylus vasorum) larvae might have serious consequences and can prove fatal. Dogs can also get infected by accidentally swallowing small slugs or snails when drinking outdoor water, eating grass or playing with toys left out in the garden or those found in the park. Not to mention that it is possible that your dog might be poisoned. Last year there were reported few accidents related with dog poisoning in London parks!
So is it a new Toy or a Threat?
How can the problem start?
Basically what we want is that your doggy will leave the toy, food or any other thing when asked to. This is much easier to say, than doJ. Why? Probably some of you have tried to teach this by screaming ‘leave it!’ followed by chasing your dog and trying to get the item from them. We can imagine what will happen the next time we ask the dogs to leave it. Some dogs treat this as a great play time! “Mommy is running after me (it’s good, she never exercise!!) I’m running away. All I need to do to get her to do it again and again is pick up a random thing. Love this play’’ :D
But most of the time a dogs thinks ‘ah ha! They want to take it away from me. I better run away or eat it immidetly’’ This is how we are creating conflict between our dog and ourselves because they have something valuable and we want to take it away. The same conflict has been created by my friend when he was eating my chips whenever we were going out to grab some food. I’m eating my chips first whenever he is around. ATTENTION – this little behaviour can appear to be fun at first, but this can lead to a serious one when a dog starts to eat inedible things. I have had customers with dogs that were eating glass, stones, screws and other very dangerous things. So remember please! Never ever chase your dog!!
What can you do?
What I’m doing with my client’s dogs, is of course teaching a ‘leave it!’ command which means stop what ever you are doing. So if the dog has some filthy toy in their mouth that means drop it, if the dog is eating something it means stop eating it! Again! Most important thing is that during teaching progress we are not creating any conflict with dogs. We need to show them that it is worth to do it. When I’m asking dog to leave something I offer him something more valuable as a reward for that behaviour. If you have a food driven dog, a reward for leaving a toy would be food, for leaving a food you can offer some favourite treats etc. They need to believe it’s worth to do it. By the way, ‘leave it’ was very nice to watch when my friend taught her bullterrier to retrieve a sausage in exchange for a candy :D
When a dog understands its worth to do it, you just need to show them that you have to do it! Otherwise they might obey only if you have something to exchange with them or they can just choose to make a decision ,,today I prefer dead pigeon’’ !
Thanks for reading.
Are you interested in tutorial how to teach 'leave it!' command??!!
Please share your thoughts with me in comments!