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Drop it/Leave it

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I know there are a lot of puppy threads lately and yes, I'm going to start another. :lol:


Annie is doing very well overall. We've had her for a little over a month now and she's really starting to settle into our lives. She's got a TON of energy and she's very smart. Mostly we've been letting her be a puppy but during play sessions we throw in some training. She has a very good "down" and her recall is about 80%. She's not nipping nearly as much, and in fact, very gently took treats from a toddler yesterday! She still pesters Tiga a lot, but is learning to play on her own too. She's been crating pretty well and has been behaved enough to spend more time out of the crate.


My concern right now is drop it/leave it. She knows what they mean and will listen if she wants to, but most times, it's a game to her and she will run away from us if she has something she's not supposed to and refuse to give it up. If I try running away from her then she'll just stay put and chew on whatever she has. Her favorites inside are socks, underwear, shoes and plastic. Outside, it's mostly garbage, plastic, sticks and grass. I don't mind the sticks and grass so much, but I don't like that she randomly picks up trash. She doesn't eat it (yet!) but likes to hold things in her mouth and chew on them. Sometimes she'll release it if I wave a treat in front of her nose and give her the command to drop it, but the treats are getting less enticing to her every day. If I try to take it from her mouth, then she will nip me and has drawn blood. We've been doing some clicker training but it doesn't seem to be working with this. We start puppy clicker classes tonight (first class without her).


She's almost 5 months old and I'm sure this is going to get worse when she starts teething. I'm just scared she's going to put something in her mouth that will harm her or that she will start eating what she's picking up. I know she's still young and I don't want to push her, but I feel this is a safety issue. Any suggestions?

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It sounds like she is coming along pretty well, with several improvements of note.


About picking things up in the house - I think this is a management issue at this point. Don't leave things where she can pick them up, like socks, etc. My children have always been their best at picking up after themselves when there has been a puppy in the house. And that goes for the adults. There should be no reason why she can get that sort of thing if you and your family pick up and put away (what a benefit to you, too!).


Continue to work on the "leave it" and make the rewards worthwhile. Use a less-desirable treat for the "tempter" and a very desirable treat for the reward.


As for things you can't avoid outside - keep her on lead so that she can't get something when she is too far away for you to do anything about it. Be watchful and anticipate - if you see something that will tempt her, either avoid it by moving away with her on lead with you, or be prepared before she even sees it so that you can give the "leave it" command *before* she touches it - in fact, just when the very thought of what she is seeing first enters her mind.


I wouldn't even fuss about grass at all and just let her grab and play with that and ignore it. For my own dogs, I'd probably do the same with sticks (I don't play with them or throw them, but I don't stop my dogs from picking them up and holding them). To avoid sticks, try having a toy along that will be a substitute, like a tug toy. Keep it in your back pocket and whip it out and make it enticing if she's going to be tempted by a stick - again, you need to act by the time the very thought is entering her mind, if not sooner.


If you have to remove something from her mouth, place your hand over her muzzle with the area between your thumb and forefinger facing towards her nose. Wrap your thumb and fingers around so that they push her lips into her mouth and up against her teeth (she won't bite you if she will bite herself first) and remove the item. Hold onto her muzzle if you need to until she relaxes and yields to you. Nipping you because you are taking something from her is not acceptable and she needs to understand that.


The last time I had a nippy pup with a little attitude (Bute), I found that I had to resort to this trick when he got a little belligerent - I would take hold of either side of his neck scruff (close to his head so that he was limited in moving his head), and lift his forepaws off the ground. His hindpaws were on the ground, he was in no way choking or in danger, but he was under my control and at a disadvantage (I was supporting his front end and his hind legs were supporting his hind end). He would get angry and frustrated (he would bubble and fuss with puppy rage), and I would just hold him there quietly, telling him to knock it off but with a very calm, quiet, low voice. As soon as I felt him relax in my hands, I would gently lower his front feet to the floor and pet him as he maintained that calm, no-nip response.


A woman in a class I helped with had a BC pup that she rescued from a nasty situation - tied in a barn where, if he wasn't shot for being an inconvenience (a pup that hadn't sold from a BYB - barnyard breeder), he would have lived out his days on a chain. He was five months old when I met him, and her fingers were covered with cuts from his sharp baby teeth and his uncontrolled nipping. I could get a positive response from him by doing the above exercise, but she couldn't bring herself to be so "mean" and he kept on cutting her hands up. I hope she finally managed to see that she needed to fit the method to the behavior, and get it under control. She just felt so much love for him and so sorry for him and his early days, that she found it hard to discipline.


I think you are doing well and wanting to get it right, and you will have a nice dog that owes her life to you - but she is definitely entering the teenage stage right now! Very best wishes!

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Thanks Sue! We try not to leave things around the house but she is sneaky and trolls around looking for things that she shouldn't have. Outside, the only time she's not on lead is in the backyard. I try to anticipate what's she's going to go for and look ahead but I don't always see everything. She's very sneaky. I will try to anticipate more and brings toys etc with us on walks. I've tried your trick with the lips over the teeth and it works like a charm! Thanks for that!


We started clicker training classes last night. We went without her for the first class to get the basics. They have some techniques for leave it so we're going to try that as well. We have lots of homework before next weeks class.


I haven't had a chance to watch that video yet Rave. Haven't had more then 5 minutes to myself over the last couple of days, but I will after work tonight.


Thanks again all! She is making great progress and I think she will respond well to clicker training.

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Thanks for asking the question.....now I can use that when Flint becomes challenging :) As for the number of 'puppy' threads, quite frankly, coming to these boards and asking the people who have first hand knowledge, is a great way to get information :)

Very likely, you aren't the only person on the boards who is having a similar 'puppy' issue :)

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