Does this sound like a dog you’re living with?
Ike is the most energetic puppy I’ve had the pleasure of raising. He’s a Labrador’s Labrador. He wakes up with his tail wagging, ready to go. He’s always happy. He’s always into something.
He also always wants something in his mouth. He IS a retriever, after all. But sometimes, that something is human parts – hands, backside, clothing, whatever. It doesn’t matter to Ike what he grabs, he needs to have it in his mouth.
The typical “no!” doesn’t work (of course).
Although…you’d be surprised at the owners who hang onto that “no!” even though it’s never worked. But that’s another blog post entirely. Ike is doubly rewarded when he hears “no!” and he succeeds in getting a body part — he gets my arm and I talk to him — that’s a bonus to his brain.
What to do?
I suppose I could get harsher and more “serious.” Something tells me that wouldn’t work either. It would either energize him more, or worse — make him fearful of me.
Saying “no,” doesn’t work, so what’s an owner to do?
How about this gem: put something else in his mouth so he can’t grab me (my parts or my clothes). Genius, right? It works. It’s fantastic. I’m meeting Ike’s need to have something in that retriever mouth AND I’m able to pet him sans teeth. It’s a win-win.
But here’s the best part:
By positively (and pleasantly, I might add) encouraging Ike to put something else in his mouth, I’m preventing a bad habit (grabbing people’s parts) from taking hold. If a habit’s not there, you’ll never have to break it.
Do you know how much easier it is to prevent a bad habit than it is to break a bad habit?!
Tons easier. Tons. If you’ve got a young dog, or a new-to-you dog, mull this over and then create a plan to help your dog develop good habits. You’ll never have to call me to help break those bad habits. Wait a minute, I should probably delete that sentence…