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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-11-2013, 02:02 PM Thread Starter
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My puppy is a sneaky shark :/

So, all has generally been going well with Lucy. We have still yet to enroll her in puppy training due to the darn Giardia. So I am thinking to ask you guys your thoughts on a probably very common, annoying behavior.

Lucy really seems to enjoy grabbing anything that dangles or drops to the ground and pulls on it with her teeth or takes it under the bed (like shoes and paper). Additionally, she likes to bite at my clothes when I try to put them on, especially pant legs. I have tried a firm no with her. However, she always thinks I am playing with her when I am really trying to discipline her. The constant grabbing and biting of things that do not belong to her is really grating on my nerves. I am afraid that she will rip apart my clothes at some point or get ahold of something that is dangerous. I try my best to keep everything off the ground, but sometimes it's inevitable. Is the only way to correct this is to teach the command "drop it"? I started training her with the "leave it command" in a controlled way with her toys. She did okay with that. However, she KNOWS if something drops to the ground that it is instantly more valuable to her (because she knows it's something she shouldn't have) and she races to catch it before me and takes it under the bed.
This morning I put her in the bathroom for a time out for about 30 seconds. However, time outs don't work when she is under the bed and I am unable to get to her.


What can I do to correct this behavior? Is "leave it/drop it" the only way to correct it?
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-11-2013, 02:22 PM
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I'm curious what people will say. Zelda has the same temperament. We've been responding to the clothing grab by offering alternate things she's allowed to chew on. She knows the command "go get your giraffe!" and will usually run off to find it if it's not too far away. Yup, my puppy knows sit, down, come, and giraffe. If someone else is home with me and she's biting at my pants, I ask that person to remove her from the behavior and engage her so I don't have to convince her we're not playing a game. This strategy eventually worked well with shoe laces but we still have some residual pant-grabbing.

The dropped item thing is harder. We just don't let anything besides dog toys touch the ground. Ever... I've started practicing drop it every day and she's getting a little better. But it's a tough one and needs much more consistency than her other commands.


Zelda Violet, born March 2013
Mom: Katherine
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-11-2013, 03:49 PM
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Katherine has the right idea. You need a two pronged approach. Keep working on leave it/drop it, while at the same time preventing the unwanted behavior by keeping things out of her reach as much as possible. With the grabbing at clothes while you are dressing, either shut her out of the room while you are dressing, or put her in her crate in the room with you while you are dressing. Find ways to manage the environment so she can't engage in the undesirable behavior.

I know it's hard, but this IS a puppy phase, and if you're consistent, it WILL start to fade. You'll be surprised, but in a year, you'll be laughing about these puppy antics!


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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-11-2013, 04:07 PM
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Had very much same problem with pants and any dangling clothing item. Like many others, we taught leave it, drop it and off. Leave it and off are listen to about 80% of the time. Drop it generally involves a trade off with a high value treat. She is a con artist and has me trained well. :-) Dropping paper on the floor and it is gone! I unknowingly dropped a debit card paper receipt the other day and she had it swiped and eaten in under 2 minutes!!! The good news in all of this is she is much better about leaving clothing/dangling items alone. Dropped or found items (mostly outside) will not be relinquished with out a trade off treat. So keep working on those commands and these things will get better. Patience is of utmost importance. Karen and others have helped and encouraged me along this journey.

Last edited by swaye; 09-11-2013 at 04:13 PM.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-11-2013, 04:26 PM
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Had very much same problem with pants and any dangling clothing item. Like many others, we taught leave it, drop it and off. Leave it and off are listen to about 80% of the time. Drop it generally involves a trade off with a high value treat. She is a con artist and has me trained well. :-) Dropping paper on the floor and it is gone! I unknowingly dropped a debit card paper receipt the other day and she had it swiped and eaten in under 2 minutes!!! The good news in all of this is she is much better about leaving clothing/dangling items alone. Dropped or found items (mostly outside) will not be relinquished with out a trade off treat. So keep working on those commands and these things will get better. Patience is of utmost importance. Karen and others have helped and encouraged me along this journey.
And a few months ago, I bet you couldn't even see that light at the end of the tunnel. Now it sounds like she is doing GREAT!!! I KNEW there was a great brain inside that one!!!


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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-11-2013, 08:44 PM
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And a few months ago, I bet you couldn't even see that light at the end of the tunnel. Now it sounds like she is doing GREAT!!! I KNEW there was a great brain inside that one!!!
You're right Karen, I had many moments of dispair. She is doing better all the time and I am confident in both her willingness to become the Hav I know she can be and my ability to help her get there. I was never worried about her brain, but certainly did question mine. Thanks :-)
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-11-2013, 09:19 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you! It seems like this phase will never end, but I know I need to be patient. But, seriously...when WILL it end!?

I am a school psychologist and very behaviorally trained, so I thought that I could handle all her training on my own (at least that's what I told everyone before I got Lucy). I can get my students to perform/stop many behaviors. But now, when its my own dog I feel like it is so different, and I have a harder time with getting her to stop negative behaviors. But, you all reminded me its all the same-change the environment and teach replacement behaviors. It's the same strategy but different approach. I really want to get into a training class soon with her. I think even just the set time per week to work on new skills will help me train her more consistently with the "drop it" and "leave it."
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-11-2013, 09:30 PM
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Thank you! It seems like this phase will never end, but I know I need to be patient. But, seriously...when WILL it end!?

I am a school psychologist and very behaviorally trained, so I thought that I could handle all her training on my own (at least that's what I told everyone before I got Lucy). I can get my students to perform/stop many behaviors. But now, when its my own dog I feel like it is so different, and I have a harder time with getting her to stop negative behaviors. But, you all reminded me its all the same-change the environment and teach replacement behaviors. It's the same strategy but different approach. I really want to get into a training class soon with her. I think even just the set time per week to work on new skills will help me train her more consistently with the "drop it" and "leave it."
I'm not a school psychologist, but I do work as an educational advocate, so I am pretty well versed in positive behavioral intervention plans. I am also the mom of two young men who have managed to turn into good solid citizens under my care. And i've trained and shown horses professionally for most of my life. But dogs are DEFINITELY different than either kids or horses. There is obviously a lot of overlap, but there are differences as well. You'll definitely find that you benefit from working with a good, experienced, positive based dog trainer!


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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-11-2013, 09:38 PM Thread Starter
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I'm not a school psychologist, but I do work as an educational advocate, so I am pretty well versed in positive behavioral intervention plans. I am also the mom of two young men who have managed to turn into good solid citizens under my care. And i've trained and shown horses professionally for most of my life. But dogs are DEFINITELY different than either kids or horses. There is obviously a lot of overlap, but there are differences as well. You'll definitely find that you benefit from working with a good, experienced, positive based dog trainer!
Very cool. I am often in meetings with educational advocates...we speak the same language!

Yes, a good trainer is a must at this point. I feel so bad that she is already 5 months and yet to be in training. Her social skills with other dogs are lacking as well. Health comes first, right? I think I want to do another de-worming on her now (her 3rd one since she was 8 weeks!), and HOPEFULLY she should be parasite free within the month. Giardia is really, really frustrating.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-11-2013, 09:45 PM
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Very cool. I am often in meetings with educational advocates...we speak the same language!

Yes, a good trainer is a must at this point. I feel so bad that she is already 5 months and yet to be in training. Her social skills with other dogs are lacking as well. Health comes first, right? I think I want to do another de-worming on her now (her 3rd one since she was 8 weeks!), and HOPEFULLY she should be parasite free within the month. Giardia is really, really frustrating.
Well, I'm all for early socialization and training, but sometimes life has other plans. I don't think you had any choice in this case. However, you might want to consider bringing a trainer to your house a few times to help bridge the gap until she's ready to go to class.


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