By Niki Elliott
Niki and Kay run Puppies in Balance Puppy School in Bryanston/Sandton and are one of our recommended puppy schools. CLICK HERE to find out more about them.
Sharing is a foreign concept to most dogs, especially dogs that are “only” dogs in the family or dogs that come from circumstances where they have to fight for all their resources. A dog resource guarder will, like us, guard his possessions. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable to humans, as this can be dangerous.
Start from day one. Get him used to you taking his things away. Give them back, and then take them away again. Let him see that even when someone else has something he wants, if he waits patiently he'll most likely get it back.
Teach a "give" command. “Give” is a very useful, every day Behaviour for rescuing your favourite shoes or even a box of snail bait. It is also the start of teaching a formal retrieve. Puppies are so good at picking stuff up in their mouths, the quicker you teach them to give the item up the better it is for everyone. Don’t chase your puppy when he has a forbidden object in his mouth, this will very quickly become a game, which you will loose every time.
Have puppy’s most treasured toy in your hand. Get him excited by shaking, squeezing or bouncing the toy. Then hold it out to him and drop it on the floor in front of him allowing him to grab it. When he has picked up the toy get his attention and hold a really tasty treat out to him. Don’t move towards him, just wait until he comes to you. When he opens his mouth to take the treat, say “Give” and the toy will fall out of his mouth. Don’t release the treat; let him nibble it in your hand. As he nibbles the treat, reach down and pick up the toy and then release the rest of the treat. As soon as he has finished the treat, throw the toy again for him to go and fetch. Repeat this game a few more times, until you are able to say “Give” before offering the treat, and your puppy relinquishes the toy happily in anticipation of getting the treat.
When your puppy has something really valuable to both you and him, don’t reach out and grab the object. Remember you have taught your pup a solid “Give” command. Play the game in exactly the same way. Don’t make exceptions for different items. If he won’t give up the object for treats in your hand, drop several treats on the floor. Often treats on the floor are far more tempting than treats in your hand. Whilst he is eating the treats off the floor, slowly pick up the object. If you make a sudden movement he is more likely to grab the item again. If you still have trouble retrieving the object place a trail of treats going away from the object for him to follow, so you can get to it and pick it up.
Keep playing the “Give” game throughout your pups growing up, and keep playing it, giving back the toy each time you take it. If you only use the “Give” command when he has something really valuable to you which he does not get back, he will eventually feel it is not worth giving to you and run away with your prize orchid and destroy it.