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Hi All,

I've had my English Springer Spaniel Cooper for a little over a year and a half, and while he is wonderful in almost every aspect, he has this one trait that we can't seem to break him of.

When he finds something he's not suppose to have (most recently a plastic poop bag that flew out of my hands) he refuses to give it up. I've tried trading up with him, from a simple treat all the way to a slice of roast beef and he stubbornly stares right at me and refuses to drop it.

He doesn't resource guard anything except for the things he knows we don't want him to have, for example I can touch his food, toys, etc... he doesn't resource guard around other dogs either - he shares food, toys, bones, etc... he's very laid back in that way.

If I try to take something he's not suppose to have out of his mouth, he will give a slight growl, but allow me to touch his snout, his mouth, his teeth, even inside his mouth - as long as I'm not touching the actual object, the second I touch what's in his mouth I get a more aggresive growl - at this piont I tend to back off, however sometimes I will quickly grab the object which then results in him jumping up to get the object back, when this happens his teeth typically come in contact with my hand, though they've never left a mark - so I wouldn't say its biting, but more so that my hand got in the way while he was trying to get it back, which is still unacceptable.

The only thing that seems to work for us, is walking straight up to him spraying the object with bitter apple and walking away. He drops the object within two seconds leaves it alone and lets us then pick it up.

My question is there anything else I can try when trading up doesn't work, or should I just stick with the bitter apple method since it's proven to be what works well?

Also, if I see it before he grabs it a leave it will usually work.
 

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"Stubborn" implies rational thought, and rational thought is unlikely to occur in your average doggy brain. Course only a dog knows what a dog knows, but I believe that a dog will always trade up; what's happening with your guy is the same thing that happens in a lot of negotiations -- it seems like a trade up to you, but his opinion is the one that counts.

The best thing, even better than trading up, is the "drop it" command, followed by the "leave it" command.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say here's where the problem is: "...at this piont I tend to back off...." Every time this happens, you reinforce his opinion that he's stronger than you. In fact when you take something out of his mouth, instead of making him drop it, that kind of enables him to defy you. You have the bag now, but in his mind, he never gave in.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
"

I'm going to go out on a limb and say here's where the problem is: "...at this piont I tend to back off...." Every time this happens, you reinforce his opinion that he's stronger than you. In fact when you take something out of his mouth, instead of making him drop it, that kind of enables him to defy you. You have the bag now, but in his mind, he never gave in.
This does make a lot of sense. We do work on drop in regards to other things (and he does fairly well), and we did try it in the past with stuff he shouldn't have (which thankfully doesn't happen too often, but enough that I want a better solution), but he never dropped it. He even went as far as to swallow a sock, which I had to induce vomiting to retrieve. That night probably didn't help my confidence in being able to teach him to drop it when it comes to things he really needs to drop and leave.
 

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What would happen if you leashed him and made him keep moving while he held the object and then offered to trade up?

My thinking is this: If the dog is hovered over the object and focused on "possession" it might be hard to induce them to eat. If the dog is moving, they may be less committed to the MINE!!! thinking.

Keeping safe and under the bite threshold is the right thing to do. If you get bitten, the game changes. Don't get bitten. And maybe you need a better trade item, like half a hot dog? And offer it as an item to chase. Make it move around like a toy and make a game of the reward when your dog is locking down. Make it more exciting than the stupid crap he has in his mouth. I would still incorporate this along WITH the walking. A dog that is honkered down is more likely to keep their treasure.

Teaching a solid Leave It away from these incidents will also help. Once your dog is good at it with low-value items, then start doing it with kleenexes and stuff.
 

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What would happen if you leashed him and made him keep moving while he held the object and then offered to trade up?

My thinking is this: If the dog is hovered over the object and focused on "possession" it might be hard to induce them to eat. If the dog is moving, they may be less committed to the MINE!!! thinking.

Keeping safe and under the bite threshold is the right thing to do. If you get bitten, the game changes. Don't get bitten. And maybe you need a better trade item, like half a hot dog? And offer it as an item to chase. Make it move around like a toy and make a game of the reward when your dog is locking down. Make it more exciting than the stupid crap he has in his mouth. I would still incorporate this along WITH the walking. A dog that is honkered down is more likely to keep their treasure.

Teaching a solid Leave It away from these incidents will also help. Once your dog is good at it with low-value items, then start doing it with kleenexes and stuff.
Those are some great ideas, and I will give them a try. Like I said, if I see an object first and say leave it he will. The other day I dropped an english muffin on the ground and said leave it and even though he wanted to pounce on it he did leave it alone and get a reward for doing so. It's more so the objects I don't see first, and while I doubt he would swallow most of the items I've seen him grab I don't want to take that chance and want a safer way of getting him to let it go. I would never want someone who didn't know how he reacts to this type of situation to get hurt, so I want to do the best I can to stop it.
 

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That's good...I found "leave it" easier to get than "drop it", too -- I hadn't really expected that.

Repetition is the key. And success. By "success" I mean, don't say "drop it" unless you're about 95% sure he'll comply. Means you have to practice over & over with stuff you know he's willing to drop.

Meanwhile, it's less than ideal, but at least you have the bitter apple. You'd think at some point the mere sight of the spray bottle would be enough.
 
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