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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
hi we’re new to this site our vet nurse recommended taking a look after speaking to her today for advice on how to manage our 10 month adolescent boy Monty!! He steals anything not nailed down!! It turns into a great game of chase . We’ve practiced “leave it!” Since he was little, it used to work but not now even with high value treats. He’s also quite destructive eating his way through drywall plasterboard when in his pen while I go for a shower!! He had toys to hand long lasting chews and stuffed kongs !! Not sure what else to try . He does training class every Saturday morning and we’ve just had a 1:1 for an hour today to help with lead pulling . Honestly should have called him reckit Ralph !! Any advice greatly appreciated.
 

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Been there, done that and got the tee shirt! It's what (some) Labradors do.

I had several Labradors before I had a muncher, Beth. She ate the kitchen floor! I never replaced it until she grew up, then I installed my nice new floor. . . . . . . . And got another puppy, Anna. Who ate the new kitchen floor!!!!!! That was when, for domestic harmony, I started using a crate. I only used it for nights or when I needed to leave my pup, and I've never had major problems since. Yes a sock pinched off the dryer or a mobile phone charger cable, but I put them down to me not being vigilant enough. I dont put the crate away until my pups are a year old, because neither chewed anything until 9 months old. Like with my floor, you cant teach a dog not to get up to mischief when you are not there, particularly when these things are usually stress related. So the only answer is prevention. Labrador are very much people dogs, and suffer more than most from separation anxiety, particularly in the adolescent stage. He will come out the other side given time and gentle handling.

It turns into a great game of chase
DONT! As you have found, it is a great game as far as he is concerned, and he's faster than you. Dont be afraid of sounding cross, but then lighten up when he looks at you and call him to you. It's a little bit like Jekyll and Hyde. You need him to understand that the behaviour is unacceptable, but at the same time you cant expect him to come if you are sounding cross! One thing we do in working gundog circles is to leave "safe" objects around on the floor for our dogs to pick up. When they do we encourage them to bring them to us and with a quiet "Give" command, take it, look at it then return it to our pup, saying something like, "Oh thats all right love, you can have that!" The object is that our pup learns that we are not going to steal his latest find, that bringing us things is good. Chloe one day brought a live frog in from the garden and I had tomake out that it was the very best present she could have brought me!

You mentioned treats. I wrote a little piece about treats on here a while back which you might find useful.

Treats! Just about every book will tell you to use them as a reward, and yes, they are great at shaping behaviour. But how often do they actually help you shape the behaviour in the way you intended? Sadly nowhere near as often as you would like. But you say, dogs are not easy to train, maybe a higher value treat will help? It’s a fact that treats rarely have more than a very slight help in training. Your dog is really struggling to understand what it is that you want, until it just happens to hit on the right response and it clicks. “Great!” you say, “I’ve finally trained my dog!” No you haven’t, your dog has finally managed to work out what you want, and thats a different thing altogether. Your dog has train it’s self in spite of you rather than because of.

People think as people rather than as dogs. Words play a large part of our thinking, of the way we interpret the actions of others. But to dogs words are just sounds. They have no meaning until they can be connected with an action. Think this scenario for a moment. Your dog sees another dog. You tell it to leave, but it goes anyway. You think, there’s no point in calling him because he is not going to come back until he has finished his play, so you stand there twiddling your thumbs until he's finished then you call him back and when he comes you give him a treat for coming. But what does your dog think. "I just had a lovely play, then when I got back mum gave me a lovely treat! Isn't life good!!" He has ignored the command to leave, no bolt of lightening has descended from the sky and smite him down. So, "Obviously that sound "Leave" which I heard obviously means nothing. I can ignore it with impunity." But back to the treat, when did you give it to him? “I made him sit first.” OK then, why did you give him the treat? “Because he came back.” OK, think about what just happened.

1/ Your dog ignored the leave command.

2/ He ran off and had a lovely game.

3/ When he tired of the game he returned

4/ When he arrived back he sat on command

5/ He received his reward.

Now you might think you rewarded the recall, but he has done other things since then. The last thing he did was to sit, so to him that must be what the reward was for. Particularly since you trained him to sit by rewarding him with a treat when he sat! It all ties in, the treat MUST be for sitting! “Oh smashing!” he thinks, “I can do that.” You thought you were teaching a recall, but your dog thinks you were teaching him to sit. The recall was just an irrelevant aside!

So now you can possibly see why I said at the start, “But how often do they actually help you shape the behaviour in the way you intended? Sadly nowhere near as often as you would like.” Timing is king whether you are using treats as a reward, or voice or hands. Whatever the reward it MUST be associated with the required action, and to do that it MUST be applied immediately, no delay for anything. In my days of training and instructing Competitive Obedience the buzz word was “Back Chaining,” The act of breaking every element of an exercise down into the smallest possible pieces, teach each piece separately and only bring then them together when every part it learned by heart. Now look at the table of events above, four separate elements all of which could be taught separately, easy to handle, easy to reward and easy for your dog to learn. The leave command. (How often will that come in useful!) The Release command, (I use OK then) The recall, (Only ever use when you are pretty sure it will be obeyed. If you are not sure then put yourself in a position what you are able to enforce it.) And the sit command. Every one of those commands can be trained separately and rewarded separately and instantly. Think about what else you need to train. Just about everything can be broken down into small elements. Treats are so useful when training, but they MUST be used correctly or you are just making things difficult for both you and your dog.

Think about training, it does not just happen with no input from you, it’s two way thing. I’ve said it before. I never take my dogs for a walk. I go for a walk with my dogs, and that is a big difference!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks John you have offered some really sound advice, common sense approach ! We are first time pup owners and went in with both feet getting a lab . I know he’s going to be a gorgeous adult when we get there as he’s lovely now … apart from the obvious.
can I ask when you leave “safe “things for the pup to get how do you get them to “give” only he rubs ad soon as he’s got something! It’s almost like he knows he shouldn’t have it 😉
 

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Basically you have to make him WANT to bring you things. Toys are all well and good, but toys you and him can play with together are so much better initially. Dogs are so like children in that. Remember your own childhood a toy was ok, but a toy with a friend was so much better. Cost is nothing to a dog, free toys are just as good as expensive toys. I find best with a puppy is an old sweater, rolled up and tied in a knot, with long free ends easy for you to get hold of. A little gentle "tug of war" enhances the game for him and encourages him to bring it to you. Dont try to take it away from him, allow him to win. To take it away encourages him to not let you have it, which is the very thing you are trying to stop. When he finds it's fun try tossing it a short distance and encourage him to bring it back to continue the game. It wont work all at once, but it will when he realises bringing things to you is fun.
 

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We feel your pain! Freddie is a stealer too, although rarely a destroyer.

One thing we have done is to stop chasing him for the things he has stolen. I'll go to the door of the room he is in, with a treat in my hand and wait for him to come to me and drop it at my feet. Then he gets the treat.

I'll only run after him if the thing he has stolen is dangerous to him.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
We feel your pain! Freddie is a stealer too, although rarely a destroyer.

One thing we have done is to stop chasing him for the things he has stolen. I'll go to the door of the room he is in, with a treat in my hand and wait for him to come to me and drop it at my feet. Then he gets the treat.

I'll only run after him if the thing he has stolen is dangerous to him.
Aw I wish it was that easy ! Haha he usually bolts out the door into the garden… then I’ve no chance I tried treats but I think he’s wised up to that 🤦‍♀️
 
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