Remember Swap shop?

There is nothing more amusing in the world than watching an owner chase their dog around like a lunatic trying to get them to drop something. I watch with a smile on my face thinking “I thought we were the bright ones” I can only imagine the joy the dog is experiencing. I bet he stands with his mates and say’s “Hey you guys, my human is the best entertainment EVER!!! Watch this!” Sound familiar? Are you really sure that your dog knows what “drop it” means?

This is an important command that should be introduced to your dog as early as possible. It also must be taught in a positive way to minimise rebellion.

Remember your dog doesn’t know what drop it means so you must teach him. To learn “drop it” you must always “swap it”. The easiest way to remember this is pretend objects are currency. So if your dog runs off with a sock you put a value on that object, so let’s say it’s worth £5.00 you then have to swap the sock with something of a greater value, always begin using food, so get yourself a tasty piece of chicken which is worth £10.00 and make it look interesting, “oh, Scooby look at this? What have I got?” as your dog approaches you present the tasty treat right in front of his nose, as he drops the sock say “ drop it” whilst you are giving him the chicken. With your other hand if you are kneeling or crouching remove the sock from under his head. If you are standing use your foot to move the sock towards you. The reason for this is if your dog still has his head over the sock he is effectively still in possession of it and as soon as he is finished the treat may try to retrieve it, if your hand gets in the way he may see this as you being rude and nip you or he may accidentally catch your hand. This will be considered rude to try and remove something that belongs to him that is why in the early stages of “drop it” we always use a swap method.

Never chase your dog if he gets something you will only increase the value of the object he has, he’ll be thinking “Boy they really want this it must be important” and also turn it into a game. Playing controlled games of “drop it” will make it fun for both you and also increase his manners!

Give your dog a toy, make it look interesting and simply say “drop it”. If he immediately get’s it, which he will then reward & praise. Gradually increase the distance between the two of using the command and also gradually decrease the reward given to perhaps just a clap and then other times a treat. This will keep him wondering “when is the food coming?” and keep it exciting for him.

You must keep yourself & your dog safe when doing this so read on to understand the canine code of claiming.


Dogs claim everything toys, food, doors, windows, cars and even people. You cannot allow them to do this!

They will place their heads over objects (food, bones, toys etc) to let you know “this is mine!” you must learn “drop it” for these scenarios!

If you ever approach your dog when he has something and he places his head over it DO NOT grab it, this could get you a nasty nip, affecting your relationship.

If he has something in his mouth DO NOT try to physically remove it, this could again result in a nasty nip, and quite frankly you deserve it.

If he has something and runs &/or hides from you DO NOT chase him, you will only prove that the object is important to you therefore making him less likely to give up or he may just try to eat it which may cause all manner of medical issues.



The power of positivity X©

Bite inhibition and prevention

It is a fact that dogs & puppies use their mouths. Puppies will chew on anything when teething but also it is exploration of new objects “can I eat it?” This behaviour is similar to a human toddler; they put everything in their mouth!

Firstly on the subject of chewing, dogs & puppies love to chew, it’s a de-stressor. If you do not provide something they will find their own object. Be careful what you provide, if you give an old shoe how will your dog know the difference between old shoes & new shoes? Kongs and other dog safe products are available on the market. To avoid unwanted chewing put your puppy into their crate when you can’t keep an eye on them as old habits die hard!

For the puppy that gets all excited and starts mouthing you please don’t worry, you don’t have a potential killer in your midst. Again this is normal. When dogs play together they do use their mouth. Their skin is much tougher than our peachy effort, we damage much more easily. It is up to US to teach them that in a way that they understand. Don’t punish them and certainly don’t fear them. If you punish you will only make your puppy fearful of you, they don’t understand our world. If you are fearful you may make yourself a little bully that never learns to use their mouth softly!

Please remember puppies that learn bite inhibition are far less likely to bite when they are adults!

When you are playing with your puppy allow them to use their mouth, we are going to teach them gradually to not use their teeth. Your first base is anything painful (with milk teeth tends to be everything). When the bite is painful make a high pitched “OW!” noise and stop playing for a minute, you can make a show by going in a huff for a minute. It is important that you start playing again. Keep repeating until they get the message that the “OW!” noise is enough to stop them. Second base is the “No teeth” command. When you are playing and the mouthing starts say “No teeth” and give them something to have in their mouth. If they put the pressure on then back to “OW!” and finish the game. Once you get into a habit as soon as you say “No teeth” you will notice that your puppy lets go of your hand. Reward with a huge good dog!!!

It is as simple as that! If you have young kids I highly recommend that exciting games are not played between puppy and kid. Children should learn that dogs are not toys! You as a parent will know yourself if your child is mature enough to understand these rules. Also NEVER leave your puppy/dog & children unattended EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!! This will lead me nicely onto the second part of bite inhibition- bite prevention.

Every dog in the world has the capability to bite and do damage. Every human in the world has the capability to misinterpret a dog and cause such a bite. Every human should know how to prevent such actions happening.

Most dog bites come with a warning of one kind or another. Please look for signs of stress when dealing with your dog. Signs of stress are panting, yawning, whining, wide eyes, growling, showing teeth, raised heckles, tails tucked under & avoiding eye contact. See plenty warning! If you see any of these signs then ease off the pressure of whatever it is you are doing. This doesn’t mean you let the dog win….far from it, you are learning to understand the dogs threshold, you are communicating.

Children are bitten more by family dogs than any other, and this isn’t breed specific. Labradors will bite just as much as Staffordshire bull terriers!

Children move fast which encourages a dog’s prey drive to kick in. Children like to kiss dogs in the face; children have no understanding of the consequences even from a dog with a docile history. Children like to scream if they feel threatened, dogs don’t understand this and it can frighten them. Children like to hit if things aren’t going their own way, dogs don’t understand this and may perceive this as an attack. Children get very impersonal about personal space, sticking their fingers in ears, eyes, pulling tails or fur. These are all normal child like behaviours just as a dog who feels threatened will defend themselves is a natural behaviour!!!!! Children also think that the world is safe and it will never happen to them. Please keep your children and your dog safe! Most dog bites on children are in fact at the hands of a dog living in the family.

The power of positivity X©

How can I stop my dog reacting?

This step by step guide to desensitizing a dog to approaching/socialising with other dogs. A simple collar and training leash and collar.



ü Large open field where you are unlikely to meet other dogs (only at first).

ü A friend who has an unresponsive dog.

ü A long training leash (so there is never any pressure on the leash).

ü Small treat rewards that can also act as a re director.


What to do!


  • Ø Begin by getting other dog & handler to walk onto field approx 50 yards away and wait.
  • Ø Start walking towards the dog with a loose leash praising for no reaction.
  • Ø As soon as dog reacts this is his “base line”, turn and walk away.
  • Ø Redirect dogs focus and walk to approx 1 foot of baseline, reward turn and walk away.
  • Ø Repeat this procedure gradually decreasing distance between you and other dog. N.B this could take a few sessions, please don’t rush as it’s essential that your dog remains calm.
  • Ø Once you are at the stage of getting approx. 5 feet away do not let dog lunge instead ask for a sit and reward.
  • Ø Then you can release from the sit and walk past the other dog about 5 feet and again ask for a sit and reward. 
  • Ø If at this stage both dogs are happy you can allow them to meet. If he becomes excited or overpowering simply turn and walk away and go back a stage and repeat.

When following this program if the dog fails at a section don’t be disheartened, simply go back a stage repeat, and end the session. Never push to fast as this will undo any work you have done. Always work below baseline and always remove before a reaction, in cases like this a dogs primary reinforcer is the removal of what causes the reaction, your food reward is a secondary reinforcer.

Never use leash corrections, instead let the leash run its length whilst you turn around and walk, use kissy noises to get him to follow you, always reward when he is parallel with you.

Once you can do it with one dog add in others and make it different, one dog walking one staying still.

This requires you to do it again & again for it to be effective.

Please remember “The power of positivity”© always wins.