Ok, so I have the following issue/question. How do I teach Bruno to STOP EATING RANDOM STUFF OFF THE GROUND?
I have popped him on the butt and nose, told him he is “bad”, made him drop whatever is in his mouth, etc. – nothing has worked. Tonight, he ate a miniature lightbulb (like a Christmas light one), just the glass part. He saw me, tucked his tail (a sure sign he was doing something he knows he is not supposed to), and spat out the plastic and wire part of the bulb. I don’t know if he chewed the glass or not – mouth doesn’t seem to be bloody – so I gave him bread and a serving of his food with kefir poored on it – I didn’t have plain pumpkin. I will be monitoring him and his stool and sifting through it, but how do I teach him to stop picking up random stuff? I don’t even know where he could have found this tiny lightbulb… 🙁
You teach him the word “LEAVE IT” you get a treat or kibble on put it under the front of ur shoe, as soon as he goes to sniff & eat it you say “No Leave It” then wait a few sec & when he has left it & he sits you give him the treat from under ur shoe..then when u feel he understands the word ‘Leave It’ you put the treat next to your foot or close enough so if he runs to get it you can grab it before him, when he leaves it say good boy, but if he goes for it say “NO LEAVE IT”….then again when he is sitting you proceed & give him the treat, this is teaching him to only eat food from you or ur boyfriend, Patches behaviorist taught Patch & I the word “Leave it” when Patch was eating cat poo & on our walks Patch would eat things off the ground.. Im glad I taught him the word leave it as one day I was in the kitchen taking my tablets & I dropped one on the floor & Patch came over to see what fell I quickly said NO LEAVE IT.. So now when something falls on the Kitchen floor or he sees food on ur walks he always looks at me first & I say ‘OK’ or No Leave it. Train Bruno the word ‘leave it’ twice a day, until he understands to leave things …Good-Luck
I will agree with the leave it. Giving him a “pop” might be the quickest way, and it seems like they’d learn. It actually just teaches them fear-association. They don’t know it’s bad or wrong, and obviously don’t realize that it could hurt them. They do, however, associate “Hm…after I eat something….I get in trouble….. Eek! I’m in trouble!!!!” And they sense your anxiety/disappointment/upset attitude which goes into more fear.
This gives many owners the impression that their dogs do have consciences and know wrong from right. It is wrong though, dogs don’t have a conscience, they simply know energy signals from their owner, and will associate actions with responses.
I’ll agree with Sue on the leave it.
There are many variations, and most of them will (hopefully) get the same results: a dog that will ignore something on cue.
I taught my Loki (he doesn’t eat everything, but he gets just as dangerous by attacking everything from roosters to weed eaters) the leave it in a few steps.
#1. The stay/still. Make sure Bruno knows how to stay or hold still fairly well.
#2. “Watch me”. This is one of THE most important commands I’ve ever taught Loki. The concept is fairly simple. Start by holding a treat by your face. Say “watch” when he focuses on your face, reward him (I hide a treat in my opposite hand and use that). Eventually try to have the treats completely hidden so you know he’s watching you, not the food. Also try to get him to focus on you for several seconds before the reward. This step can take time and needs practice (a great one to work around distractions, too!)
#3. The leave it. When Bruno is sitting/laying calmly at your request, hold a treat in your fist. He’ll sniff it and know it’s there. Tell him to stay, and place the treat a bit out of reach. If he stays, then reward him (with a different treat. Leave the other on the floor). If he gets up, take the treat and give a correction (just an “ah ah” and a touch on the neck is fine) and put him back where he started.
Once he stays, then ask for a “watch”. When he watches, reward.
Tell him “leave it. Watch me” and move the treat a little closer. If he ignores it, reward.
Eventually, you should be able to have the treat between his paws while he calmly watches you.
I didn’t go /quite/ that slow with my boys, as I sometimes needed that “leave it” in an instant. But if you can make the time to go slowly, then it gives a great foundation.
Your goal is to hopefully get him to the point of /always/ looking at you before taking something on the floor (believe it or not, my crazy anxious Loki will now bring me /anything/ new that he wants, drop it by my feet, and look at me. If I tell him “no” and put it up, he walks off. If I tell him “okay” he continues to eat it/chew it).
Once he does pretty good with the treat, then get adventurous! Try using a favorite toy instead. Try tossing something past him (Loki will leave a treat that goes by his face, but isn’t quite to the point of maintaining eye-contact. He’s gotta turn that head and glance at the treat first…..he’ll get there tho).
Try to incorporate “wait” or “leave it” into your daily routine. It’s a snap to practice, as you can use it on his dinner, his snacks, his training rewards, and even in his playtime! Get creative with it to make “leave it” a fun game, and have Bruno thinking “Oh goody! Something new! I’d better wait for mom’s permission!”
Until you’ve both got a good hold of leave it, prevention is definitely best. Try to keep everything picked up and out of reached, even if that might include confining him to a room or two.
Oh gee whiz I just wrote a book there…..so sorry! Hope you enjoy reading, LOL! And I said that Loki will bring anything new to me. I guess I just lied XP he never brings those chicken legs (kitty’s dinner leftovers) to me. I know he finds em when I hear “CRUNCH CRUNCH!!!” Hahahaha.
- This reply was modified 5 years ago by Shasta220.
With almost every food motivated dog I have owned, giving them a pop taught them to look and see if I was paying attention and to swallow faster. That’s how fear works.
When Desi was living (rip Boobala) he was one of those “vacuum” dogs, too. He had Pica, a disorder where they eat all kinds of random things that are not food. I definitely taught him “leave it” and I also taught him “drop it”. I did this when he was a pup because I saw that he was going to be a difficult dog. Most of the time it worked. I also conditioned him to being used to me sticking my whole hand in his mouth or down his throat lol, as well as accepting me literally crawling into his crate to get something he had that he shouldn’t. This didn’t stop him from passing away at an early age of 8 years old, though…he had health problems that I believe caused the Pica and the vet I had didn’t care to listen to me about it all. Long story, but I have since switched vets because of Desi, especially.
Wow, Carlyn, thanks so much for the wonderful training guide! I am so excited and will definitely implement it with Bruno.
He does know “wait”, “drop it”, and “leave it”, but I guess only as a “trick”, as in only when we’re “playing”. So I will try the “watch me”, and also stop the popping, because, as Patty said, I really think he just tries to complete the mischief faster and when I’m not looking. So I will turn to positive reinforcement and treats (he loves treats, he has a couple kinds of “treats”, and then, his kibble, which he luckily likes just as much). So yeah, we will start working on that once I can bend/get closer to him, cause I hurt my back last Sunday and moving has been problematic (dang sciatic nerve… 🙁 )
Anyway, thank you all for the great advice, and we will be on it soon!
P.S. Turns out the little plastic part that was from a Christmas light never had a bulb on it, so he didn’t swallow glass, thank goodness!
Glad that he’s gonna be okay, and hope you feel better soon! I’ve had my darn foot beat up three times in the last month (first I stepped on a jagged rock, then it got kicked by a horse, and THEN my cow decided to step on it….uggggggh!)
I’ll also agree with Patty, that popping em seems to make them even /more/ mischievous. I have some friends that own two golden/labs, and they are completely old fashioned with the whole smacking your dog when it’s bad…. They think it’s the best, and get quite confused when I say “I don’t need to hit my dogs as a correction.” Their dogs are friendly/calm as can be, but they don’t ever understand the correction. They go get into the chicken coop, then come back out. Owners run over and smack them…..they just think they’re getting popped as a regular thing, they don’t understand “oh. I went in there. That was bad. Oops.”
Luckily they’re very easy going dogs and forgive quickly….if anyone dared to try that “method” on my Loki, they’d prob end up in the hospital and then go shoot him. He will not put up with getting shoved around like that, and I can’t say I’d blame him!
Sorry for that vent….not sure what that has to do w leave it.
But that’s good he does know those commands! Try to get to the point where he might ignore /anything/ unless you gave him the “ok!” (“Ok” is about the easiest one to learn. It just means “free time” or “you can have it”. I’m sure he already knows it pretty well. I always do it in a super-excited higher pitched voice so they know that they can take a break from working, or gobble up that food.)
Thank you, Carlyn!
And, I am pretty sure you can guess who taught us to pop Bruno when he does something bad. 😉
Anyway, switching to positive reinforcement, because:
a. I don’t want my dog to fear me, I want him to respect me and see me as a leader who teaches through “kindness” (read “yumminess”).
b. I really want him to learn these things, like not eating any and everything off the ground, and also I really want him to learn to focus around distractions (super hard for him at the moment, especially because he has so much terrier energy).
Anyway, hope your foot is better! Sounds like it went through a lot! 🙁
As of yesterday, I am able to sit in my chair on the computer again, and today I will try sitting in the car. It is crazy what pain it was and how immobile it made me to pinch my sciatic nerve…
Habitually eating non-food objects is not normal behavior for adult dogs. Don’t forget to think about whether you are meeting nutritional needs (with high-quality, meat-based, preferably FRESH foods) and supporting good digestion!
Boredom may also be a factor. It is tough to give dogs enough mental and physical stimulation when they live in a house, have limited yard space and are cared for by working people. I’m not criticizing— I deal with the same challenges. Just trying to point out some lifestyle factors you may not have considered :).
Ah, I figured your room mate may have had a role in that method. It’s okay though. I started out by learning that old-fashioned way of spanking/popping/etc. luckily, my very first dog was rather forgiving, and now I have a strong bond w him.
I love positive reinforcement, but I also execute sharp corrections when needed, and always try to have a job for my boys.
I agree with Tabitha, boredom or other lack of motivation may play a part in it (I doubt it’s nutrition, as you take good care of his diet!). Try to figure out a mind-stimulating activity (agility, obedience work, Treiball, flyball, or make up a game with a goal) and set aside at least 10m a day to work on it. Shasta loves his agility, and Loki benefits greatly from distraction-training via obedience work.
Tabitha, good points – I don’t think it’s the nutrition because I try to supplement Bruno’s kibble diet with RMBs and raw eggs, sardines, coconut oil, yoghurt/kefir, pumpkin, flax seeds, and the occasional dog-friendly fruit/veggie bits, as well as canned food.
Now, the boredom might be it. Both the hubs and I go to school full time and work part-time, so poor guy sometimes only gets 30min-1hr walks instead of a good playtime in the dog park or good training session. We have 2 brain-stimulating doggie board games that we need to whip out more often… so that could definitely be part of it. Even with my busy schedule I try to take him to the dog park at least 2-3 times/week, weather and time permitting, but when I injured my back last Sunday I wasn’t able to take him out at all thi s week. BUT, I also try to play chase with him for 15-30min in the evenings, but I can definitely look into more options… thanks for some suggestions, Carlyn! 🙂
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