This exercise is done to prevent the puppy from feeling the need to guard bones, toys, and garbage that he finds on the ground (or anything that he may nab over the course of his life that is important to you or dangerous to his well being).
Just as he may be naturally inclined to guard his food bowl, a dog may be naturally inclined to guard a prized toy or bones or dangerous (a hypodermic needle) or disgusting (a dead rotting bird) garbage that he finds. We will need to be able to safely and easily get many things out of our dog’s mouth over the course of his life.
Practice trade you in a wide range of locations. At home, on walks, in the backyard, in the park, anywhere the opportunity may arise that you will have to take something out of the dog’s mouth. The idea here is to set up situations with your puppy that are certain to happen at some point during his life.
Everyone in the family should be doing this. If there are no kids, find some to help you. Children must be supervised constantly by an adult. If there is already some inkling of guarding beginning to occur, do not enlist the aid of a child until you have successfully rid the puppy of the habit. Even then, proceed with caution!
Start by using articles that the puppy is not too attached to.
Give the puppy the chosen article.
Say “Drop” as you take the article away from the puppy and offer him a tasty treat from your pouch. The tastiness of the treat will start to reflect the importance of the article you are taking from your puppy. Repeat this exercise five times in a row. Do this a few times a day for two to three days.
With that under your belt, move on to an article that is of greater value to the pup, maybe his favorite chew bone or stuffed animal. Remember we have upped the ante here so our trade you treat must reflect this. If the article is more important to the pup, the payoff must be of greater value. We need the dog to actually want to give something up to us since he knows that it will payoff well. Repeat this exercise often.
Once the puppy is relaxed and comfortable with a more valued article, start to trade for articles that the puppy may happen upon, sticks in the park, garbage on the street.
You want to be able to safely and easily take any object out of your dog’s mouth.
- Stay neutral, calm, and relaxed regardless of what the pup has in his mouth.
- Never chase your puppy. If the pup has the feeling that it is something worth keeping and you shriek hysterically, this will undermine your chances of retrieving the article.
- With articles that are unsafe for pup, ask for the drop, take the article, treat the pup accordingly and offer him something that is safe.
- If you are struggling with more valued articles, back up and work with less valued ones again.
- Keep the puppy successful by not having him loose in an area where he is able to get his mouth on important things that he is not going to want to give up.