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0 Comments | Jun 20, 2014

Help! My dog eats socks!

Question:  I was in Hawaii having a great time until my kids called to tell me Romer had swallowed a sock.  He eventually passed it but now he’s done it again!  I am wondering if you have any quick tips to stop this bad behavior.  For his own sake as well as mine.  I tried redirecting him with a treat but that’s when he quickly swallowed the sock.  –Joan K

Answer:  Unfortunately, he has learned to gulp and swallow to protect items he has, which means your job is a bit harder. You need to teach him to willingly give things up or this will only get worse. Start with something safe for him to have, fairly low value, and too large for him to swallow, such as one of his toys. Have him on leash. When he has the object, take a high value treat, say nothing, and put it directly to his nose. Step on the leash if he tries to leave when you get close. In order to eat the treat, he will need to open his mouth, which will allow the object to fall out. As he does that say “drop it,” give him the treat and praise as you pick up the object.

After he eats the treat, give him back the object and walk away. Practice this a lot (not all at once, but over the course of several days) until he is willingly dropping the low value object for you when he sees you coming, or when you say “drop it,” before you pull out a treat.

Move up to a slightly higher value object, still too large to swallow. Don’t put the treat to his nose, just say “drop it.” When he does, praise, give him a treat, pick up the object and hand it back to him. We are trying to give him the idea that he has nothing to lose by giving things to you.

Continue practicing with different objects until he is happily dropping things for you, or even bringing things to you in hopes of trading for something better.

In the meantime, be very careful about what is lying around, as he’s in a habit that we really want to break as quickly as possible and if you have to try to get something from him that he shouldn’t have at this point, you run the risk of him trying to swallow it.