I Refuse to Chase a Dog

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chase dog, should I chase my dog

I came home the other night from working out at the gym.

Recently, I have found the gym rat within myself.

I go to the gym sometimes twice a day and have found a personal trainer that is teaching me to do some body building and lift big weights.

I am seeing the benefit to long term behavior change and waiting patiently for results.

chase dog, should I chase my dogI came home the other night from a 10 hour work day and a one hour butt kicking and kicked off my shoes.

My brother’s puppy, almost immediately grabbed my shoe and began running around the house.

Cute, right?

Nope, not so cute.

I was tired, hungry and slightly cranky after a long day.

My brother’s wife began to call their 11 year old son.

“He loves being chased” she said.

Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Sometimes I think they forget they have a dog trainer living in the basement.

And, I have found that family and friends are the worst clients and less likely to listen to your training advice.

“Don’t chase him!” I shrieked!

After all, I know that chasing is one of THE MOST FUN puppy games that you can play!

Let’s be honest… there isn’t one of us humans in this house that is faster than the puppy.

He is fast and he is agile and he can run under and behind things that are simply impossible maneuvers for me!

Don’t get me wrong…

For a Moment, I Imagined Turning Into the Hulk

I could feel my blood boil, my muscles grow and my shirt rip.chase dog, should I chase my dog

I imagined myself picking up the furniture like pieces from a doll house and throwing them around the room as I pounced to corner him and rip his prize from his mouth.

Just kidding, but the blood boil thing is real 😉

The Truth Is…

The truth is that I, Me, THE HUMAN is supposed to be the superior being in this relationship.

I am supposed to have more brain power.

If I give in, and pretend to be The Hulk, I lose and at least for a little while, the puppy wins.

That is what he wants!

He wants nothing more than for me to chase him around, for however long it takes, getting madder and madder until I catch him.

Even if I were to hit or abuse him when I catch him (please don’t do this) he would have still had a good enough time prior to your catching him that he will likely do it yet again.  He will just try harder next time to elude you, forever.

You see, a dog doesn’t realize that eventually you will win.

Children realize that eventually they will have to go back to you or they understand that if they give up sooner than they would like that it will lessen their subsequent sentence.

chase dog, should I chase my dogDogs don’t have that power for reasoning.

So I squealed, “Don’t chase him!”

And I, being the thinking animal, quietly got up and slowly walked toward the kitchen.

The puppy, with shoe firmly affixed in mouth, hissed and whirled around me dashing to and fro under my feet.

I didn’t even acknowledge him.

I didn’t want to give a command that he would ignore.

I could have shouted “DROP IT”  “LEAVE IT” or “NO” but why should I waist my breath on commands that will likely be ignored?

If I choose that route, I am actually teaching him to ignore my commands and it will also likely incite me more.

Instead, I sauntered to the cupboard where the dog treats are held and I reached in and grabbed a biscuit.

Some of you just shuddered.

Some of you may have had food or beverage roll out of your mouth in dismay.

Some of you are infuriated and about to x out of this article.

Let Me Explain

I have two very distinct choices now.

I can reward him for “seemingly” retrieving my shoe, hence tricking him into thinking that if he steals things and brings them to me he will be rewarded.

Yes, initially this rewards what seems like a bad behavior, yet rather ingeniously teaches the dog to bring you all stolen items (brilliance!).  Don’t worry later (once he has been conditioned that bringing you things is rewarding) you can refuse to reward after he brings you the stolen item and the dog will actually, then, refuse to steal your things (again GENIUS)

You can also get this behavior (retrieve and bring) on cue if you reward it!

OR….

I wait for a behavior I can reward. chase dog, should I chase my dog

Those of you who know my writing, know I have talked about this puppy before!

He still jumps on his family like they are spring boards because they neither correct the bad behavior and stop their dog from jumping, nor work on training an incompatible behavior.

However, he knows the moment that I enter the home, that if he wants something from me he is expected to lie down.

It is wonderful, whenever he wants something from me, he simply sprawls out on the ground and waits for me to either pet him, feed him, or praise him sweetly.

So I sat at our kitchen table and averted my eyes and waited.

He dashed in and ran around the table my pilfered shoe, his crown jewel, still locked in his jaws as he looked up at me in dismay.

I waited.

His circling of the table slowed and after a few long seeming moments, he gagged out my shoe.

I waited.

If I moved too quickly, he would likely snatch it and run yet again.

Then he came over, made eye contact (another favorite behavior of mine) and he flopped down on his belly.

I marked that behavior and tossed a treat in the opposite direction of my shoe.

As he ran for his treat, I nippily snatched my shoe as he raced back to me.

Next, I dropped my shoe to the floor and waited.

He sniffed my shoe and hastily and tossed his tiny body to the floor as he stared up at me.

GOOD LITTLE BUDDY!

Who won this battle?

I did!

I also won the war!

Remember, we humans are the thinking animals.

Resting on our strength or quickness, isn’t going to work well for long!

But, you should always be able to count on your intellect and your calm demeanor to solve problems with your dog!

chase dog, should I chase my dog

There are 37 Comments

  1. Bettina says:

    my take away is how clever dogs and children are that they will know with who they can get away with things. If everyone around our dogs as they are learning would be consistanty reinforcing good behaviour and not let them get away with for example jumping up pups’ behaviour would improve so much quicker. Unfortunately in our household I am the only one who has the patience and dedication to insist on certain rules which makes it harder for dog to learn. I am trying to pass on knowledge learnt from Chet’s programs, newsletters etc but a lot of it gets ignored.

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  2. A.Abel, CPDT says:

    Great explanation of why rewarding behaviors we want is more effective than scolding or punishing behaviors we don’t want.

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  3. Klaudia Schmidt says:

    This is absolutely brilliant. Up to the point where the puppy dropped the shoe I felt assured that I am doing training sessions right. The last 2 steps were however a big surprise. But thinking about it they make a lot of sense.

    My major problem with training is to stay calm and wait patiently – especially when I am in a rush to get out for work in the morning.

    Thanks for posting this article.

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  4. Great Article! This makes perfect sense to me.
    My dog is a Pyrador (Great Pyrenees and Labrador Retriever), who (thankfully) doesn’t steal my belongings. He is generally happy with his toys.
    When he decides something else is on his radar screen, with stuffing, it’s usually too late, because he is stealth…despite the bell around his neck. He LOVES Polyfill stuffing.
    The aftermath involves the fluff clean-up during a brief scolding, and being ordered to his blanket (that he de-fluffed a few days ago.)
    As a large, young dog, he still delights in play and is still quite immature, at times. Overall, the destruction level is down.
    His favorite thing is a large, heavy, special bone purchased at PetsMart, which he has identified as his comforter-of-choice. He is an 80 lb power chewer, so realizing he can comfort himself with his big bone is a miracle.
    I still re-enforce the reminder that his bed and bone are safe areas, where he can unwind and rest. I train him daily in both inside and outside behavior, which keeps the rules in the front of his mind. Praise and reward is working very well.
    He is catching on to clicker training very quickly, and we both are having fun together. Since he is the center of my life, and I am his, we are a good team. This new element is keeping him focused, and we are a happy family. He is, all in all, a very good dog.
    Like people, he isn’t the perfect dog, and I am not the perfect master/mom/trainer. But every day with Scotch Puppy is perfect.
    Just recently (to my horror), he found an open front door. It was my mistake — I always shut the door, and still can’t figure out how it happened.
    I knew he would be gone forever, if I didn’t do this right. My heart stopped. I didn’t move, but he looked at me, knowing he was never outside off-leash.
    “Scotch Puppy, no! Scotch Puppy, come.” It worked like a well-rehearsed scene from a movie. He immediately came to me.
    “GOOD BOY!!!” was followed by praise and a treat, a big doggy-mom hug, and a silent prayer of thanks.
    My diligence has paid off, and Scotch Puppy and I have one more day of life together.

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  5. Nadine Welk says:

    I have a 3 year old Bishon/Shitzu mix. She is not natured towards barking, plus it never gets rewarded, so she rarely barks. About a year ago, I got home from work around 9:30 pm. After greeting me, she wanted to go potty. Then we played ball and got her dinner. When I took her outside again, my hold on her leash was not as tight as usual. Bad timing! There was a skunk walking up the hill behind my house to the tree line.

    She had never seen a skunk before. It was a little larger than she is, and she was curious. Off she went, bounding after the skunk. Thankfully, she didn’t catch it or bark. The skunk, unperturbed, keep heading for the trees. I called to my dog several times, but the skunk was too compelling. She kept going and I knew I would never catch her. There was only one thing to do.

    I came back inside, got her container of treats, and took them outside with me. I called and asked her if she wanted a treat, all the while shaking the container so she would hear them rattling. By now she was quite far. She turned and looked at me, looked back at the skunk, and came running home. I was so relieved that she did not get sprayed! Yes, she got plenty of treats. I have learned by reading these posts that you reward the last command that was obeyed. And I have continued to work on her coming when called.

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  6. Bette says:

    This is a great way to handle the situation. I have started this with my son’s Lab. He is a little over a year old and a wonderful dog. He loves to chew and has ruined many valuable items. Mostly my shoes and sandals. I keep reminding myself that he just wants to be near me and that is why he chooses my shoes! Lately, he has been picking up shoes and bringing them to me and dropping them at my feet. I have tried, like you, to praise him for retrieving and he is also rewarded with at treat. This has seemed to curtail the chewing. I find that my patience wears thin after a long day at work, as you described. Your story gave me renewed assurance that I am doing the right things with our Lab and he will eventually behave as we would like for him to behave. Thanks for your neat tips. They are really helpful. My son calls me the “Dog Whisperer”. I count that as a compliment!

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  7. Steve says:

    I like the idea but my 6 month old lab loves to chew the shoes. He will grab a shoe then go away from me and chew. What should I do ?

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    Minette Reply:

    like the article says, if he gets something for taking the shoe, he will bring it to you and not chew it

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  8. Don Hartley says:

    Catherine,
    I have a 2year old dog (Poodle/Bernise Mountain mix) who has had 2 life threatening intestinal surgeries at a total cost of about $5000. The 1st ingestion was a knotted rope toy. She ate the knot & I thought I would lose this puppy before she was 4 months old. The Vet had to slice open the small intestine to remove the knot. When she was about a year old she ate a cardboard tube which also didn’t pass through the intestine. This required a 2nd surgery. Katie has survived all this but it took me 2 trials to learn not to leave chewable things about. She can & does destroy any chewable toy (except Kongs) within minutes.
    Katie seems to have grown out of this now & no longer requires close supervision around edible things which aren’t!

    Chet, Your thoughts on teaching puppies to not chew on dangerous things? (I think the owner has a responsibility to police the environment & supervise the puppy until it is old enough to be taught to seek permission to pick up anything).

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    Minette Reply:

    I work on leave it!

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  9. Kathy says:

    Congratulations! I have been waiting for someone to acknowledge this method for YEARS! I’ve used this treat/reward based method instead of chasing for over 16 years with great success. I also keep an ample supply of puppy toys around and when a puppy grabs something of mine, I just calmly take a toy and begin acting like it’s the most fascinating thing in the world. I don’t look at the puppy or acknowledge him in any way! The puppy almost immediately becomes more interested in the toy than in the stolen object and will leave the object and want the toy. I play with the toy and after a short time, include the puppy. Not only do I never have to chase the puppy, increasing the excitement, but he learns that only his toys are fun! Treats are a secondary enticement that I only use if toys are accessible.

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  10. Ann Spear says:

    I like your advice: Genius!
    But I guess my question would be: What should you do if the puppy gets bored with you ignoring him and takes his prize elsewhere, perhaps to start eating it?

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  11. Audrey Larsson says:

    Chewing and retrieving have been put to work with my young Malinois, Lucy, She is a rescue and a great pup…about 1 1/2 years now. Give her a job, they say. Give her plenty of exercise. Curb her wild (destructive?) chewing behaviors.

    She chews and eats all the twigs she can find outdoors, but I find that “trading” the twig for a bit of kibble works for her (and for me.) She spends time finding the twig of choice, and then runs into the house with it for the trade, and returns to the big outdoors for yet another twig. Huzzah…she eats fewer twigs, she gets a bit of self imposed exercise, and she “has a job”. I am verging on 89 years of age, so this is a good way to keep her busy between walks in the neighborhood. .

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  12. Marty says:

    This has happened to me over and over. I have been trading treats for the stolen items but I’ve been afraid I was rewarding bad behavior. I’m glad to know I’m on the right track.

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  13. Peggy M says:

    I so loved reading this. I am ashamed of myself because I “chased” my Basenji puppy this morning….jeez. She is about 13 weeks old and will only come with treats. :( I no that time (hopefully) will solve this hurtle.
    Thank you again for sharing….. great reminders

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  14. Marilyn says:

    Daisy,a golden retriever, is 1 year old today. I found that the leash attached to me indoors when the stimuli is just too much for her is helpful. She needs so much focus on me to wrestle with the guest dog etc. eye contact and wait has been another great tool. Outside a long leash attached helps to refocus her if need be. The biggest issue I have is that she plays rough with our almost 7 yr old black lab. I need to say ‘toy’ for Daisy to pick it up and play with lab rather than nip her legs or neck. Any other suggestions ? Daisy will retrieve 5-6 times before being distracted. The lab will ‘leave the thrown ball’ which is her favorite activity if Daisy is around bc the puppy gets over stimulated and nips

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  15. Donna Sacra says:

    Ok but what do you do when your dog refuses to come get the treat for coming?

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    Minette Reply:

    You aren’t using a good enough treat!

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  16. Joan Walsh says:

    I started offering a treat if Buddy would give up what ever he has stolen usually a slipper or a duster as I could never catch him if I was on my own .The problem I have is if Buddy steels socks he tries to eat them staright away delemer !

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    Minette Reply:

    That can be a deadly habit. You need to put up your socks unless you are actively working on leave it

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  17. EVA Lacks says:

    My shih tzu grabs an item and bounces it around,
    Waiting for me to come to him,off he goes with it.
    I made mistake of chasing after him,now he runs
    With everything. Should I treat him before he drops it.
    He acts the same with his toys, grab them and just sit
    Holding it like he will never let go.
    Your articles are so good and enlightening,thanks

    I can

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    Minette Reply:

    in order to eat a treat you have to drop what is in your mouth.

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  18. Helen Taliaferro says:

    This story reminds me of our barn dog, Ranger. He delights In Stealing things, expensive things, from our tack boxes as we tack up horses. We have to make a trade with him…a treat for the $150 helmet that he is chewjng up. I am not sure who wins!!!😊

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  19. Joan Auna says:

    Good idea! My puppy loves to get soft things like his shirts or my socks & my
    Kleenex, and make a game of trying to catch him. Thanks, I will try this idea.

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  20. Donna Pavlovsky says:

    This is a great exercise to try. I used it on my golden retriever today because she loves to steal dish towels and chew them to shreds. It does take some patience to make it work but it really does work. I can actually see her thinking about treat vs. towel. Once she realized that I wasn’t going to play tug of war, her very favorite game, she wanted the treat. She did bring me the towel but I did not try to snatch it back because then she would had me where she wanted me engaged in her play. If you can contain the area your dog has access to the game of snatch and grab they can can be further controlled and they tend move on to something else more quickly.

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  21. mark caines says:

    It took me two years to work that out the instructors at dog classes don’t tell you every thing.

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  22. Kathleen Gee says:

    I have taught my Cairn Terrier to help me with the laundry. As I carry the basket, I drop a piece of laundry, like a sock, and I say “Bring it!” He carries it all the way in to the laundry room for me, where he gets praised and usually a treat, although I plan to start phasing that out soon. It is really funny to watch him take a pair of my husband’s work jeans, as he is so small and jeans are so big and long!

    Now that he has learned to do that, I can say”Bring it!” and he will carry whatever he has stolen to the laundry room. I am presently babysitting my 3-year-old grandson. He stole something and carried it to the laundry room (of course I had to show him where it is). I was really proud of him because it is the first time he has stolen something in a strange house and still knew what to do!!!

    Love your article. You are always so funny!!

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    Minette Reply:

    awwww thanks! You made my day :)

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  23. Diane Keen says:

    I can relate to Audrey Larsson’s post. We have small dog about 14 months old and still very much a puppy and she chews everything. She even picks up stones which really worries me. So I started giving her the command “leave it” and trading for a small treat. An exchange that seems to be working. Your article made perfect sense to me and gave me ideas to work on. Thanks

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  24. Thanks for the tip.my dog is a Miniature Schnauzer who thinks she rules the roost (mainly my fault). Am trying to retrain us both.

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  25. Lynn Fox says:

    Thank you for this. I thought I was rewarding bad behaviour My 7 month old Rottweiler does chew the shoe but doesn’t like to give it up either until the treat comes out. I’m having to do the same to get my bromeliad plants off him as these he does chew. I usually walk away saying I’m not playing silly games especially if he’s outside. He comes in & he gets a treat for brining it in to me

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  26. Lynn Fox says:

    Meant to say doesn’t chew the shoe

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  27. Kay Shimmick says:

    Have enjoyed all comments of chasing and playing tag. Our 2 1/2. Yr old chocolate lab had many of them. Just broke the one that worried me most. Chewing stones. She seems to be past this now and I’m so glad I went from time out in crate to reward for dropping. It does work. Now we have to worka little harder on sock stealing. Thank you for sharing all the info. 😀

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  28. My 18-month old cross maltese / jack russel is the cutest, sweet natured little dog, but she has a bad habit of trying to get the dogs next door to bark by incessantly barking at the dividing wall herself. She does this even though the other dogs are silent. I’ve tried yelling at her to stop but she ignores me even though I promise treats if she will come inside. Should I take the treat to her at the wall instead? Won’t this encourage her to bark even more – just to get a treat?

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    Minette Reply:

    search my articles on barking and quiet

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  29. saundra says:

    I had a 5 month old labradoodle, super smart. I too have gone to get treats and he will come to me and “give”, get the treat. Even would come to the couch when called to “give” what he has. Things were going well. Lately though, he will not want to “give” or come or trade for the “treat”. Yes, he loves treats and is food motivated, but he is realizing that having whatever he has is more important. Not sure what to do for the next step.

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    Minette Reply:

    He feels like you are always taking his things. I would play with him like this http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/teaching-dog-retrieve-play-drive/

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