Dear Miss Behavin’:

My puppy likes to pick up everything on our walks.  Is there a way to stop them from doing this, I am afraid they are going to get something poisonous? 

This is a great question and one that many owners face.  You can teach your pup a cue such as Leave It, which will let them know they should not be going after that item.

To start you will place a treat in your hand so that your pup can’t get to it and offer it to them, wait for them to stop going after it on their own, be patient it will happen.  The second they stop; mark the behavior with a cue like Yes and follow with a treat other than the one they just left.  You will repeat this several times until they are readily backing away.  Now add the verbal cue Leave It to the exercise when you present the treat and wait for your pup to back away, and mark and treat.

You can now start with a small pile of treats on the ground with your hand placed over it.  Give the cue and try to uncover the pile, if your pup goes after it, cover it back up and repeat until you are able to uncover the pile without your pup going after it.

You will need to generalize the cue and practice with all types of items and in all types of environments.  If your pup is getting the pile of treats, you are too close and you need to make it easier so that your pup is successful.

If you are still having problems, please reach out to our behavior department to schedule a consult at or 650-340-7022 ext. 667 .


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