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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all. So my 8 month pit/lab mix has a new game that is wearing my patience out. We have stone and mulch in our yard and he likes to sneak in and grab a piece of one. I've repeatedly corrected him. His game is when I go to take it from him he runs aways. I just know this is a challenge he is giving me.
so my wife and I can't agree on what to do. Do we just turn our backs and ignore him by not becoming part of his game? Or do we "chase" him down no matter how long it takes, and take it away from him thereby showing him we will not back down? All of our friends and family solution is to "get a shock collar" which I don't want to do.
 

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Don't get a shock collar, it's a really bad idea. I say, don't let him access those areas in the yard. Leash him or build a barrier if you can until you have better control over him. Train him the "Drop it" and "Leave it" command, so dropping an item becomes a new game, and leaving something alone before he can touch it. If his goal is for you to chase him, then don't try. As long as he is not eating the stones or mulch, just leave him alone, and he will find out you won't play with him when he grabs them and will lose interest in those things. If you want something from him, do not chase, calmly and assertively approach, and keep following him until he gives up. If you don't make sudden movements, and you're very calm, it would send the message that you're not playing around. One of the things I insist never be done is "chasing" him, this will only teach him to run away from you, and the more he runs the more it is rewarding to run. You don't want him to run from you when you really need to get him, like if their is danger or anything. I would only say play "chase" when he has good recall. What you can do, if he wants to play this kind of game is to get him to chase you instead :D Not only does he get to run, and play with you, but also it reinforces running to you, and running to you is a good thing to do. Have treats to make it even more fun. This will also build his attention span to you, and start the beginnings of recall and "come".
 

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Prevent the dog from practising the bad behaviour. Even if you scold/correct him after the behaviour, he's still gotten reinforcement from practising it before you could get to him. So prevention is much better than correcting him after he's already done it.

Fence off the area or keep the dog on a leash. Reward him for ignoring the area, or have training sessions really close to or around the area where you get him to focus on you and do some simple behaviours while ignoring the rocks, the rest of the time he shouldn't have access. If you're consistent with this for a couple of months he should learn to not touch the rocks.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Don't get a shock collar, it's a really bad idea. I say, don't let him access those areas in the yard. Leash him or build a barrier if you can until you have better control over him. Train him the "Drop it" and "Leave it" command, so dropping an item becomes a new game, and leaving something alone before he can touch it. If his goal is for you to chase him, then don't try. As long as he is not eating the stones or mulch, just leave him alone, and he will find out you won't play with him when he grabs them and will lose interest in those things. If you want something from him, do not chase, calmly and assertively approach, and keep following him until he gives up. If you don't make sudden movements, and you're very calm, it would send the message that you're not playing around. One of the things I insist never be done is "chasing" him, this will only teach him to run away from you, and the more he runs the more it is rewarding to run. You don't want him to run from you when you really need to get him, like if their is danger or anything. I would only say play "chase" when he has good recall. What you can do, if he wants to play this kind of game is to get him to chase you instead :D Not only does he get to run, and play with you, but also it reinforces running to you, and running to you is a good thing to do. Have treats to make it even more fun. This will also build his attention span to you, and start the beginnings of recall and "come".
I am definitely not getting a shock collar. I do not believe in that method training.
and I should have been more clear. I don't run after him. I do exactly as you described. Calmly and assertively walk to him. And I have been considering putting him back on his line even though our yard is fenced in. My interpretation is he is 8 months old so he's challenging me. Like hey I got this, what are you gonna do about it? And I do have him chase me around and he loves playing fetch. So I think I will take the suggestion of putting him back on his line or leash for a time.
He was neutered last month and he has become more hyper since then which is exasperating!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you for the suggestions. Some I had already considered, a few I had not. Should find something successful between them all.
 

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Does he get enough exercise in general, walks, runs, etc? Increasing his exercise will help with the hyperness. Adolescent dogs can be a big pain the butt, lol. He only has power and room to challenge you if you put value in the thing he has. If you ignore him it'll be like "Whatever, so you got a rock, I'm going to do something more fun and ignore you" Dogs are very curious, and little come to you and investigate what you're doing. Have you tried abruptly walking away from him and cut off attention? He might try to goat you on a little bit, but it's no fun just playing with just a rock.... by yourself.... lol
 

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He's not "challenging" you, he's being a teenaged dog. Keep away and chase me are dog games and he's figured out how to make you play. (I'm a little concerned by your use of "assertive" and "calm". You been watching Cesar Milan? Dominance has been debunked for decades.) My advice to you is to manage and train.

Manage: Keep him away from the mulch. The more he does, the more he does it, so don't let him do it.

Train: He likes the game of keep away, why not take control of that? The book Culture Clash has a wonderful suggestion on training your dog to play keep away with you, and keeping the game under control. You play with a toy, not mulch, obvs. ;)
 

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One additional suggestion - Labs and Pits LOVE to play and love to be chased... as already recommended, don't chase them under these circumstances.
You can ignore them, you can try going back into the house (fun stops), or you can run the opposite direction, and he may chase you...
 

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I agree with hanksimon. And, I wouldn't even "calmly and assertively keep following him". That's still giving him what he wants, which is a super fun game of chase, only if you calmly follow him, it's chase in slow motion! :)
 

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Get some cayenne pepper from costco in bulk, wet down the mulch a bit then dust it with the pepper. Don't do it when he's around. Then let him figure out if that's really so much fun to grab. Same idea as bitter apple but would be more cost effective for a bigger area. The smell will remain for a while in case he thinks about it again.

At the same time, give him some fun things to do, a flirt pole or even a plastic milk jug on a bungy is good fun.
 

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There's nothing wrong with calm and assertive and dominance theory but the problem here is you're doing it wrong. If you're going to follow those principals then you need to do it right, an alpha doesn't chase around a follower, the follower just comes to the alpha. If you say come, then your dog should come.
My opinion only, I think you should be calm and assertive when working with your dog, but it doesn't mean you have to jerk the leash, or hit them, or alpha roll them.
However, it seems like your dog just wants to play, so dominance, and corrections and stuff won't really work here. It's just negative attention that he'll take because he isn't getting enough attention.
I emphasize walks, and think every dog should get at least 30-45 minute walk every single day but an hour would be best. If you aren't doing that you better get started!
If your dog picks up a rock try grabbing a different toy like a tennis ball and bouncing it around(Try hitting it against a wall outside in the backyard, my dog loves that he'll jump and grab it), and praise him for playing with the toy instead of the rock. Praise him for wanting to play chase with the toy in his mouth instead of a rocks.
Obviously "leave it" and "drop it" commands are good things to teach him.
Good luck!
 

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The part I was objecting to was the calm, assertive following, as if you are following, you are still chasing, or going along with the chasing game.
Calm is great, and assertive is, eh, ok, but the dominance theory has been debunked, and was based on all sorts of erroneous studies, whose authors have admitted were flawed and the results were misleading. So, yes, be calm, and assertive/confident, but, you don't need to be dominant.
 

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I agree with running or turning and walking away, calling the dog. Do not chase, even at walking pace.

You need to have another high value toy that he loves so that when he comes to you you can get him to drop the mulch/stone and then have a big happy game with the toy you want him to play with.
 
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