One of the hardest things we found in trying to teach manners to our pup is to teach him to drop or otherwise leave an interesting item. This was especially hard because the most common methods for teaching this involve giving the dog a “high value” treat or toy in place of the “bad” item. I know, that doesn’t sound hard at all right?
But see, Apollo, like most Tibetan Mastiffs, isn’t especially food or toy oriented. Sure toys are cool, especially when they squeak, and cheese and peperoni are awesome treats…..but only till something CATCHES his attention, then I can wave peperoni in front of his nose all I want and he’s going to just ignore it. Honest. The lady who did our puppy class tried to tell us we must be doing something wrong if he wasn’t being attracted to the peperoni, the look on her face when she did it, and he ignored her and headed in the opposite direction was priceless. To be fair to her she recovered nicely, and was able to help us cope and come up with alternative methods for most of the training regimen. So sometimes offering him a treat in place of the “bad” item works really well, other times not so much.
Now over time (and remarkably quickly really) he’s learned whats his to chew on and what isn’t, but we’ve still struggled with getting him to “leave it” when something really tempting/tasty hits the ground or catches his eye. Getting him to NOT steal cardboard or paper out of the box of burnable trash has been an on-going argument, and god forbid you drop something tasty food wise. But over the last several weeks he’s headed for the burn box, grabbed something and attempted to make off with it, and I’ll tell him “no, thats not yours” and he’ll drop it and come over to me a bit sheepishly. That all by itself was a HUGE improvement in that behavior, but then just now, I had a couple chocolate chip cookies on my plate, and I somehow managed to drop one on the floor. Apollo lunged, and I said “no”, and he stopped and looked at me! I’m so proud of my puppy! (and yes, he got a couple slices of peperoni for that one).