Dog Toys

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Getting a Grip on a Glove-Grabbing Golden

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My cyber friend, John Cooke, asked me this over on Facebook:Dog Behavior Image

Winter question: When walking with gloves on hands my Golden often thinks there must be toys on the end of my arms. Doesn’t understand why I wont throw or let her bite them. Hands in pockets no problem. Suggestions? Distraction?

This is most commonly a confusion about play, which is why I am writing about it here.

How do we often instigate play with our dogs?

We hold something in our hand, hold it at their level and move it around. That’s the signal to start, right?

In fact, if we have “their” ball in our hand and our dogs grab at it, we laugh. We allow them to start the game by grabbing.

Once they are playing, what do we do often? Hold the item up out of the way, laughing as the dog jumps in an attempt to get it – as demoed perfectly here.

What does the dog learn from this?

  • That interesting objects held in our hand and moved around near their face are toys to be played with.
  • That grabbing things in hands often is rewarded with laughter and play.
  • And that once the game has begun, leaping up after things is rewarded again with more laughter and play.

See why this is can be confusing for your dog?

Glove grabbing is common in the winter and can be very annoying (as well as painful). Here’s how I change a dog’s mind about this.

  • Presentation is not invitation. I teach dogs to wait until I verbally tell them to play before they can grab the toy. This begins by holding this out and telling the dog to wait. If they go for it, move the toy out of the way with a calm, clear verbal negative then try again. When your dog show’s some self control then give them the “let the games begin!” signal. I use “Take it!” but the words don’t matter. The pattern does.
  • Until this is sorted out, I put a moratorium on leaping/grabbing at anything in my hands. That is no longer a rewarded behavior. Instead, being polite and patient gets the good stuff,
  • Use space games to teach respect for your body. These simple yet powerful exercises are explained in My Smart Puppy.
  • Teach “The Simple Sit” (also in My Smart Puppy) so you can handle her easily on leash if the jumping starts.
  • Play “Beat the Clock” so she learns how to calm down quickly on your word. This game is played on leash, no food. It’s a play on/play off exercise. So you get your dog a little excited then go very calm and still. Have them sit or down. The INSTANT they respond, the game starts again so that self control = reward. This is a powerful game that can be played inside and out. Make sure you get your dog a little ramped up but not so excited that she cannot listen. And do this after you’ve done the other steps.

Once this understandable confusion is straightened out, things are much easier for everyone.

Now you know.


Author: Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, Dog Expert, offers experienced-based dog info with humor. Author of 8 books, seen on PBS, Sarah knows all about dogs. {Pip} is her rescue dog.

One Comment

  1. Excellent info, as always.

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