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How to teach Give & Take

Dogs Just Want to Have Fun

Articles Contributed By Other Trainers

How to Teach "give" & "take"

 By Melinda Berger, B.A, CPDT, CDBC (

Dogs love the “Grab and Chase” game.  You know the one where they grab
something that you do not want them to have and you chase after them to get
it back.  This exercise will teach your dog to release whatever he has in
his mouth..  This exercise is also useful to prevent or modify “Resource
Guarding”; a potentially dangerous but perfectly normal dog behavior.

Begin by offering your dog a toy that he likes but will not guard.  As he
opens his mouth to take it say, “Take”.  Praise him when he does. Easy!

Wait until he is playing with the toy and then say, “Give”.  Immediately
offer him a treat with your right hand.  Click! as he drops the toy.
Instead of giving him the treat outright, hold it between your thumb and
index finger and let him nibble on the treat.  As an alternative have a
handful of treats in your hand to dribble.  Either way make sure that your
dog is engaged with the treats before you use your left hand pick up the toy
and offer it to him again, after he finishes the treat, say, “Take”.  Note:
this exercise uses two hands; never reach across in front of the dog to pick
up the toy.

Practice 2-3 times a day.  Your goal is for your dog to release the toy from
his mouth when he hears the cue, “Give.”

If your dog becomes savvy to the game and will not take the toy, that’s not
a bad thing; he is beginning to believe you have a better offer!  Try using
a toy that he values more.

If he will not give you the toy at all, try a better treat.  If he grabs the
toy and moves away, speak with a dog trainer.

If you suspect that, your dog may be the type that guards his valuables you
can try a different approach.  Begin in the same manner but as you say,
“Give” place a trail of treats on the floor leading away from the toy and
place a pile of food on the other side of the room.  While the dog is eating
the food, you or another person can pick up the toy.  If the dog races you
for it, discontinue the exercise and speak with a trainer.

Practice this exercise often so that your dog believes that “give” means to
release what he has and look at you because you always have the best stuff!

Melinda Berger B.A., CPDT, CDBC
Dream Dogs LLC
Training & Behavior

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