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This morning while on our walk Max found a wrapper and of course picked it up he didn't spit it out like he usually would do and I didn't want him eating the plastic so I removed it from his mouth. He growled and angry growl at me and did not give it up easily. So once I removed it I told him leave it and then asked him to walk by it. He picked it up again so I removed it again and he gave me another angry growl and did not give it up easily (one of my fingers was bleeding)I did not back down from removing it from his mouth but I was worried he really was going to bite me. I again told him leave it and we walked by it several times and finally he walked by it without pulling on the leash and he left it. He has growled at me on one other time when I had to get a piece of paper from him that he was not suppose to have but he gave it up very easily. He has growled at my husband on a few different occasions about the same thing and he was given time out. He has been on cortisone for the last two weeks (he growled at my husband a few days ago) could this make him be more aggresive? How do I correct this?

Dawn
 

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Lots of things here! Yep, cortisone can make dogs (and people who take it!) mean for a while. But, if the growling has ever happened other times, I would begin to work "Leave it" in the home. Practice, practice, practice. Add some NILIF to your daily rutines, so he knows his place. NILIF is nothing in life is free... do a websearch for NILIF, and there will be lots of great reading.

Good luck with your dog.. hope he is off cortisone soon, too!
 

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Dawn One thing is never show fear to him as they read it and run with it. Like Patti she didn't have Grimm growl at her but like she did was show him who's boss. And not let him get away with growling at you. He need to know that this is not tolerated
 

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Best way to teach "leave it" or "drop it" is to offer a trade of something higher value. Have a tasty treat that is better than the wrapper, and trade him for it.

The problem with the whole "show him who's boss and you won't tolerate it" type attitude is that in many cases this can make matters worse and escalate the behavior.

Growling is a warning signal from dogs. It *prevents* bites because most people and other dogs recognize it as such and heed the warning. A dog growling at the owner is inappropriate, yes. BUT, punishing a dog for growling doesn't change his mindset about the situation and make him no longer feel uncomfortable (which is why he's growling in the first place). Often it will just teach him NOT to give that warning. Then next thing you know is he's snapping or biting "without warning" because, well, that's what you taught him.... Not to warn.

Growling is also a symptom of a relationship problem. The dog is uncomfortable, angry or threatened by the handler's actions. Responding to his growl with anger, force or threat in an "I'll show you who's boss!" type attitude often reinforces the feelings that are causing his growl in the first place. He was afraid something bad was going to happen or his owner was threatening him in some way, and sure enough that's exactly what happened. Now he's doubly likely to growl in the future, or escalate past growling, because he's been taught to expect a fight in which he has to defend himself. Instead, show him there is nothing to worry about and the behavior will go away because he's no longer worried in the first place.

Offering a trade eliminates both problems. It difuses the situation by showing the dog that there is nothing to worry about. Nothing bad will happen if you approach when he has something he wants, and in fact something good will come of it. And telling him to drop or leave that thing he wants isn't a bad thing either, because again, he'll get something even better. This changes his feelings about the whole thing, and builds trust with the handler, so there is no need to growl because he no longer feels threatened or uncomfortable.
 

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This is a topic not to speculate on or "experiment" with, as it is serious. If this continues, get some help immediately. In fact, I would suggest that you get help now. There is a fine line in regards to being effective and resolving this, and the flipside of setting up an adversarial relationship that can escalate. Outing a prized item is a very common area where you see conflict between dog and handler. Showing "who's boss" is advisable provided you can be 100% consistent, detached from an emotional standpoint, fair and effective with whatever correction you will give. Fighting/getting frustrated/showing emotion with the dog will only teach him to up the ante next time and they may win.

Additional obedience training and NILF in the house will put his head in the correct mindset, and working on an out command using two equal valued items (balls, tugs, toys - whatever) so you can trade him and reward him for the out is the positive way to teach what you want. Once he understands, one swift prong correction for not outing will enforce your command. Do not forget to reward the out after a correction.

Good luck.
 

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When me and my husband were teaching leave it we were instructed to give the command and if Max picked up what he was told to leave it we were to remove it from his mouth and then again give the leave it command. Was this wrong is there a better way?
 

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Originally Posted By: rizzodmWhen me and my husband were teaching leave it we were instructed to give the command and if Max picked up what he was told to leave it we were to remove it from his mouth and then again give the leave it command. Was this wrong is there a better way?
If he was told to leave it, I would not allow him to then pick it up and you remove it from his mouth.

First, this negates the whole "leave it" command to begin with if he's allowed to pick it up and teaches him the command is optional.

Second, dropping something he already has is a separate command and exercise to teach. It's not the same as teaching him to leave it alone and not pick it up to begin with.

Third, it sets up a situation for conflict between dog and handler.

Either tell him "leave it", and if he goes to do it anyway correct him using a collar correction (obviously he would need to be on leash). Or tell him to "leave it", then reward him for leaving it with a treat that is higher value than whatever the other object was. Use that treat to lure his attention away from the other object if necessary.

Best way is a combination of both, though you should start using the motivational method (treat) to mold the behavior you want and show him that it is in his best interest to obey the command (because he'll get something even better if he does). Then later, once he is 100% clear on the "leave it" command and knows what you want, and has a history of being rewarded for obedience to the command, incorporate corrections in order to proof the exercise.

As with anything else we try to teach dogs, this should be worked on as a planned training exercise. Not just waiting for a situation to arise.
 

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There is a much better way. "Leave it" is about PREVENTING the dog from getting something, not taking it away from him after he's already picked it up. If you're teaching with food, start by closing it in your fist. The second he stops mouthing or licking your hand trying to get at it and looks up at you, mark it (verbally - Yes! or with a clicker) and release the treat, or give him a treat from the other hand.

With food on the floor you can cover it with your foot. At first he'll dig at your foot to try and get the food, wait until he gives up and backs away from it and looks at you - mark it and give a treat from your hand. Work up gradually to not having to cover it with your foot, but be ready to put your foot back if he goes for the food. Eventually you can drop food on the floor and say "leave it" and he won't even make a move towards it. Throw a verbal party, and give him a jackpot of treats.

You don't have to just use food, you can use a favorite toy. It's easiest to teach in a fairly narrow area. Put the toy behind you and stand between the dog and the toy. Body block him if he tries to get at it, and mark and treat when he stops trying to go around you and sits and looks at you instead. When he stops even trying to get at it, you can pick it up and play with him as the reward.

Generalize to a variety of items and circumstances. You can also put a bowl with some treats in it, or his toy, in the middle of the floor, and then bring him into the room on leash. Walk him towards the item, and stop when it's just out of reach. You want to make sure he can't self reward by getting at whatever he's supposed to be leaving alone. Give the command, and the second he turns away from it (do not pull him back, you're looking for HIM to make the choice), mark and treat. Get creative. Do you have cat? Try it with the litter box.

Chris's explanation about trading is exactly what I do. This is to prevent your dog from playing keep away with things he's not supposed to have. When mine were puppies we did lots of trading games so they learned that if they gave me that toy/ball/bone, they'd get something yummy in return, and then they would get back what they gave up too. By starting with fairly low value items, trading them for something really good (cheese cubes? hot dog bits? peanut butter? freeze dried liver?), you can gradually work up to more valued items. This is something you should be working on for at least a few minutes every day, preferably with each member of the household - don't wait until he's already got something he shouldn't have to try trading, this is a preventative measure. Make it a fun game that he'll enjoy playing, and then when he gets something he shouldn't have that you won't be able to give back to him it will be no big deal. Remember to use lots of praise.
 

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You can work "Leave it" with a tinfoil ball on the carpet.. gosh by golly, what IS that? He wants to sniff it, but-- nope! You can use a frozen bagel, anything at all. "Leave it" is non-negotiable. It is serious.

"Out" is a different command altogether as has been said. Out is easy and fun to teach-- a two-toy game can be used for this. Making it a game with Out can make the Out command become a strong HABIT. I have a 100% reliable Out with Grimm because I take meds for Glaucoma and other stuff, have very weak hands, and when he was a fat lil baby puppy my fear was-- if I drop a bottle of pills and he scarfs one, I need a good OUT. I began working Out at age 9 weeks when I got him, and almost immediately then began Leave It.
 

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When we got our Maltese mix he was very food/toy/possession aggressive (like he was with his previous owner) he would growl, lunge, try to bite and come back to rebite, and that was just being in the vague area of whatever he had in his mouth. He never really connected with us but he did with the former owner and was nearly PTS.

With the trade method he is quite willing to give up anything now - he can be in the act of chewing and we say "drop it" ("jerroppit" actually so it is different to "drop") then "leave it" (also as one word) and he obeys. I am so proud of him that he is so willing to give up anything but he trusts us to give him something better and we meet that obligation even if it is often only just a "good boy" and petting - he seems almost proud of himself - yeah, I know anthropomorphism at it's worst!!
 

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Both my GSD's know the command "leave it" and I enforce it everyday so they don't forget.

I started by putting a treat on a chair in front of them or on the floor - and said "leave it: but I stayed very close. They got a sharp "Uhhhh" if they put their nose to it.........once they put their nose back I said okay and they got their treat. Once it gets to the point that they aren't going for it I would leave it for a few seconds til releasing and so on until I know they are going to do just that. If they did manage to take it you must make sure you take it back from them so they don't get away with it. Once they know you are going in their mouths after it they don't seem to be as anxious to grab it the next time. I can put both dogs in a sit, put the treats on the floor in front of them and they will sit and wait until I say ok.

At feeding time, they sit and "leave" their food dish until I say Ok.
Thus the command is constantly fresh in their minds. haha - my kids get mad at me cause a couple of times I forgot to say "OK" and the dogs are staring after me like.....uhhh, can I please eat now?????

They both understand "drop it" and I always always say "good drop it or good leave it" when they obey.

I feel much safer knowing my dogs understand these two commands in the off chance they do go for or pick up something harmful.
 
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