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  January 31, 2013
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What Your Dog Knows

What Your Dog Knows

Michael Ellis discusses the difference between a dog that knows what you're asking but not complying and a dog that does not know what is being asked. He also discusses how he would handle both situations.

January 31, 2013   |   3 Minutes, 11 Seconds

Leerburg Q&A
Ask your training question

Question: Our 2 year old dog takes items and won't give them back. He brings the item near us and then we can't move because if we do he will become aggressive. Is there anything you can suggest that may help us?

We have a Shorthaired German Pointer, he is 2 years old and we are having a problem when the dog takes something that doesn't belong to him. He generally comes near us or close to us with the object he would have taken and we won't be able to move from there because he tends to get aggressive. We think it could be because he thinks we are going to take the object back from him. Even with other things that he takes, he refuses to give them back. Is there anything you can suggest to help us deal with this?

Cindy's Response:

You need to take more of a leadership role with this dog all the time. He should be on leash ALL the time when he’s not in a crate or kennel.

I would recommend the video Pack Structure for the Family Pet.

You don’t mention how long you’ve had this dog, but I get a lot of emails from puppy owners who have pups that take items and won’t give them back. It’s so much easier to fix this before the dog is a mature adult.

It’s all about the relationship and how the dog looks at you (as a leader or not). Start with our groundwork program.

I would take away all his privileges and make sure he had to look to me for everything. I would also do some training where he has to use his brain and teach him a communication system that he understands. I would read our article on training dogs with markers.

The Power of Training Dogs with Markers
The Power of Training Dogs with Food

I teach all my dogs that I will take things from them but it will be done in a fair manner and in the beginning, I trade them for something better (favorite HIGH value reward, chicken, steak, etc) so there is not conflict. Trying to do this with an adult dog can be dangerous because it’s already escalated to aggression.

For now I’d take away his privileges and his ability to take things that don’t belong to him while you spend some time training him. Dog training is often about controlling your environment and setting everyone up for success.

We also have a number of eBooks, which include topics that may help you.

Cindy Rhodes

For more questions on this topic, see our Q&A on Dog Aggression.

We get a number of Q&As every week, if you would like to read this week's Q&As, click here and check out the 'Recent Questions' section!

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