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Bonnie the Collie (from the beginning)

Toys are not only for play. They are terrific things with which to bargain. Here's what happened. Bonnie is really into shoes. She loves shoes! She finds one wherever she can, picks it up, and runs with it to her favorite spot, which is anywhere she wants. So the other day she found a really big running shoe. She was so proud. I asked her to give it to me and she just laughed. Not really. But she did turn around and run.

puppy with shoe

So I got one of her favorite bones and joined her where she was chewing. I took the shoe, saying, "Thank you!" at the same time and immediately handed her the bone. I made a trade.

puppy with bone

Bonnie was happy. It's important that I didn't punish or yell at her. If I had, she would run away whenever I asked for it because she would be afraid of punishment.

It's worth saying that not all dogs will give up an item easily. Puppies must be trained to give up items when asked. The best way to teach them is by trading for something better. One way young puppies can learn that is during their meal.

In beginning training, the owner puts her hand near the dog and tosses a treat into the food bowl. The puppy learns that hands and good things go together. Eventually she can get her hand closer and closer. Later, if the owner picks up the bowl, says, "Good dog!" and then puts the bowl back down, the puppy will learn to trust.

In time your puppy learns to trust that you are trading an item that is just as good as the one you took. That's the sign of a good relationship. Happy trading!

P.S. Some of you more experience puppy-raisers may be asking how the shoe was found in the first place. Of course, the best course of action is to have all shoes behind closet doors. That's what I do. But as you may know, some members of the household may not be as good about keeping things put away as others. In those cases, trade is the best way to get the item back.


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