The Sock-Stealing Puppy Turned Sock-Retriever!
Here’s how we transformed a mischievous pup’s attention-seeking behavior into a useful skill! 🐾
Is it possible to turn a dog’s naughty behavior into a useful skill? It is! I taught a customer’s puppy who used to steal socks to bring them to mom instead of playing keep away.
📖 The Story
A few years ago, a customer came to me with a cute but frustrating problem – their puppy had developed a habit of stealing socks. She would sneakily snatch socks from the laundry basket or off the floor and then dash around the house, showing off her new prize.
To fix this, I had them focus on increasing their pup’s nap times (most pups are not getting enough sleep believe it or not), and we used positive reinforcement to shape the behavior.
The owner gave her the following:
- Puzzle toys during meal times
- Weekly puppy play dates (to get the wiggles out and teach cooperation through play)
- A treat, a pet, or praise every time her puppy grabbed a sock
As we implemented this strategy, her puppy started to show signs of becoming a helpful sock-retriever instead of a mischievous thief. And here’s why…
It was never about the sock for the puppy. It was about getting mom’s attention! So once mom focused on rewarding the behavior her puppy could still instantly get her mom’s attention in a POSITIVE way (a huge win for the puppy).
She could now prance around the house (as any proud puppy should when they find something no one else has) and be rewarded for it.
Now her puppy had a task to do she could be rewarded for. This puppy absolutely loved the attention, interaction, and pride she felt by being useful around the house. It was a win-win!
I hope I helped you understand your dog’s world a little better today.
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