When we bring our new four-legged addition to the family home for the first time, it is easy to be blinded by our new found love. And for good reason, who wouldn’t adore a new furry friend that thinks you are the center of the universe and is more than willing to shower you with kisses? Then a few weeks or months pass by and all of a sudden you find yourself in the middle of a unwanted game of chase ten minutes before you have to leave for work. After you finally corral your dog you have to tell the embarrassing story to your boss to explain why you are late. There are some very simple solutions to this problem, no matter what stage you find yourself in.
The old saying a once of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure is exemplified in this scenario. When your dog is feeling a little rambunctious and grabs that off limits object, do everything in your power not to get flustered and try to get it from him. This is how the game of chase starts! I know, I know, it’s your favorite pair of shoes, or your best decorative pillow, but I assure you your dog has no sentimental attachment to the item. It has become one big game to him!
If you find yourself with a energetic puppy who is trying everything he can to get your attention, do yourself a favor, when he grabs that inappropriate towel just take a deep breath, relax, grab one of his toys and invite him over to play with it. By offering him to play with something that is his you will teach your dog that if he wants you to play all he has to do is grab his toy and bring it to you. If you chase him around and make a big deal about him having your slippers, he will know all he has to do is grab them and start running around and you will chase him. This scenario can quickly snowball out of control so it is much easier to prevent it from starting than it is to fix it.
For those of us that fall into the “already taught” category, don’t stress too much. There are a few easy ways to help you overcome this problem and reverse the snowball. Remember your dog has learned to have you chase him because it has become a big game and now we are going to change the rules of the game. The next time he grabs the pillow and takes off running from you, turn the tables on him by grabbing one of his favorite toys, and while making sure he knows you have it, run the opposite direction making a big deal about having the toy. This should certainly spark his interest and make him come running in your direction. Once your dog is coming after your kneel down and start playing keep away with him. By kneeling it will prevent you from trying to revert back to chasing him, and it will make you more playful in his eyes. This will in turn evolve the game of chase into grabbing his own toys and having you play keep away with hm.
Now, if your dog is waiting until you go outside to play this great game, you will want to address the issue in a similar way. Knowing that he is going to play this game, equip yourself with the tools to fix the problem. Grab that great toy and when he starts running from you pull it out and let him see it. Then, run towards the house and make a big deal about the toy. When he gets to you play with him using the toy to ensure your dog maintains a drive for the toy. This will also allow you to gain control by grabbing his collar. It is important to remember not to get mad and once inside continue to play with him. Otherwise you will teach him not to want the toy.
As with any behavior you are trying to teach or correct, consistency is paramount. If you are not consistent your dog will quickly learn that if he is persistent enough he will get his way. Furthermore, the entire family has to be on board and doing the same thing or you will just be spinning your wheels. Remember, don’t create the game by ignoring the fact he has your stuff and offer to play with him using his toys. And, if you have already taught the game, turn the table in your favor by grabbing a valued toy and running away from him. While consistency is important, so is keeping your wits about. Be calm and confident while taking control of the situation and you and your dog will live happily ever after.