7 month old possessive over stones/things she shouldn't have

I hope someone can help, Holly is 7 months old now and sweet natured in every way apart from when she has something that she knows she shouldn't have. She will happily give us her toys on command, shes not possessive at all over her food but if she picks up something small that she souldn't have like a stone from the garden or a sweet wrapper in the house she will not give it up, we have tried swapping for treats but this doesn't work if we try and get it out of her mouth she will snap at us.

Its very odd because she isn't possesive at all over her toys, food, blanket just things she picks up that she shouldn't have, she seems to know when she has something she shouldn't because she skulks off somewhere and goes very quiet.

Does anyone have any tips on how we can get around this?

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not sure if she knows she shouldn't have it - more likely she has found something she really really wants. You are probably on the right track with the trading treats, you may just not have found a treat she values more than the rock or the candy paper.

I have to say though - I am v-e-r-y stern with my dogs when they pull anything like that and they usually don't repeat it very often. If they think you are at all hesitant about the exchange they will take advantage - dogs are really opportunistic creatures.
My Tibetan terrier behaves the exact same way. They do have the tendency to eat everything they see at that age....well maybe not all of them...mine does that anyway. I am very strict about it but he still manages to get unwanted things in his mouth. All I can do is take it tell him that I will get the umbrella if he doesn't drop it (he is very scared of the umbrella-don't know why). He usually drops it then and if he doesn't, putting my hand in his mouth and getting it out is the only option left.
I've never posted here before (so hope I get this right) but have taken great pleasure in reading this forum for a couple of years now. I felt compelled to actually register 'officially' now so that I can reply to your post as we have experienced something very similar with our first oes - which can hopefully help you out.

When our bitch was about 8-9 months (she's now 2.5 years) she started to 'steal' from the kitchen rubbish bin. She was always totally fine with giving up toys/food etc. - as you described - and had never previously shown aggression of any kind towards anyone/anything. We didn't deal with the problem very well (hindsight is wonderful!) and it escalated until a point just before her first season (about 12-13 months) when she did actually bite my partner when he tried to take a tissue that she had 'stolen' - not a bad bite, and could even have been an accident as she tried to snap to get back her ill gotten gains - nevertheless it was enough for us to seek the help of a behaviourist.

Anyway, to get to the point of my post (which is certainly not to scare you) - just wanted to share what we learned from the behaviourist and also how we overcame the problem. Firstly, it appeared we had conditioned Inca into resource guarding (I'm sure she always had it in her, we just helped her along :roll: ) - she would often 'steal' when we weren't in the same room as her, and as soon as I heard her in the bin I would rush to the kitchen to tell her off and tidy up the mess - and inadvertendly give her what she wanted.. attention. This happened over many weeks/months.. and given a time machine I'd go back and just remove the bin altogether to nip it in the bud (which we have done now anyway).

This was also the first step to overcoming the problem, remove anything that she should not have from her reach - this seemed pretty impossible to us at first, but really it was the best and only thing that worked to begin with. We were advised to keep her on a house lead when indoors so that if she took something we could take the lead and remove her from the object, rather than remove the object from her. The key was also not to give her any attention whatsoever, no telling off, no fuss, just remove her. However, the house lead was not at all practical for us (we also have two cats who took great joy in making a toy/game out of the lead 8O ) and Inca had a pretty good recall (if she knew you had a good enough treat) so we usually just called her away with a treat - took the item away when she wasn't in the room - and then let her back in as if nothing had ever happened. Yeah, sometimes the treat/recall didn't work, and I'd have to up the game a little.. play with her favourite toy so she would have something better to do.. let her out back to play ball.. even ring the doorbell so she would snap out of it. Whatever worked best. The other thing was if the item is not particularly precious to you, or harmful to her, just let her have it - ignore her and pretend its not a big deal at all. Inca would take tissues, tea towels, place mats etc. which wouldnt do her any harm and didn't really matter to me - so I'd just let her have them and she soon got bored and figured this wasn't the best way to get attention after all. Of course, for a while this back fired and she would only steal the high value/bad things (batteries, usb memory stick, even a spirit level!! 8O ) - but really, that was all our own fault for leaving them out and she just took the opportunity to let us know it!

The other thing we were advised to do was extra games/training time. We already did basic training with her on a regular basis, took her to training classes, and she got lots of walks/exercise - but this clearly wasn't enough for her! So we did lots of things with her we hadn't tried before that were mentally stimulating (searching for treats, hide and seek, new 'tricks' etc.) - it was also about this time that she also went through the stage of sitting right in front of the tv and barking in my face all evening long - so it helped with that issue for us also (gotta love those puppies :lol: )

Ok, so after consistently doing those things, over a period of a few months, we managed to regain our relatively well behaved sheepie girl. At first it got worse, she would steal everything and anything - I guess to try and figure out what would work? who knows - but we persevered even when we thought it was hopeless and in the end it worked out.

However, I should note, she still steals - not a lot and not in the same obsessive way, but the most important thing is she doesnt guard anymore. She brings me things now (probably because I've taught her pick something up = you get a treat) - so now she brings the post if its left on the mat, and has had great fun over the holidays picking up christmas cards from every and any low table in the house and bringing them to me. I just say thankyou, and get her a treat like the well trained human I am :roll: . But really, I think of the battle we used to have, and now the fact I can take things from her mouth again, it is still worth the hassle of her taking advantage every now and then.

Apologies for the excessively long post!! I'm sure its not the only solution, but it really did work for us, and hopefully it can be of some use to you and Holly.

By the way, your avatar pic is super cute - good thing they're so adorable huh? :wink:

Inca's Human (aka Nicola)
Welcome Nicola!
Hi Nicola,
Welcome to the forum.
Now that you've officially joined up post some photos of your girl.
Welcome Nicola! I enjoyed reading your post. I must admit that I am thinking about getting a new sheepie puppy within the next year or two. I'm trying to be armed with whatever information I can.
Please post pictures sooon! :P
Thank you all very much for the warm welcome! I will certainly put up some pictures of Inca - will start up a new post so as not to hijack this one :)
Hi Nicola

Thank you for your post, a very interesting and useful read.

We have actually tried something slightly different with Holly, as stones are her main interest and the thing she doesn't like us taking from her we are now giving her a stone, as soon as she has it we say 'give'. She already knows the 'give' command as we use this with her toys, food etc. so she knows she always gets a treat if she 'gives'. So far it seems to be working, not every time but shes getting better. She doesn't get a treat everytime she gives though, when she gives her toys etc. she gets praise now as we don't want her to assume she gets food everytime, so hopefully we can move on to praise for giving back a stone soon.

I know exactly what you mean re keeping them busy and entertained, Holly obviously has lots of physical energy but also lots of brain energy, she likes nothing better than doing things for us such as finding her toys. We say to her 'wheres your stick' she trots off and out of all her toys comes back with her stick, it amazes me how intelligent these dogs are.

Have you got any pics of your little best friend?

Oh and welcome to the forum :)

Really pleased to hear you have found something that works for Holly - sounds like something we should have tried early on too (instead we took the telling off bigger and louder approach :oops: which clearly didn't work out).

I am amazed by their intelligence too. I had no idea she would be so smart, and hadn't really intended on teaching her anything past the basics. Now I'm constantly having to think of new things to do. However, fetch just doesn't seem to be on her radar! I would love for Inca to bring me a toy if I asked for it! (I've started teaching her to name the toys, but she just walks to them - guess I need to figure out the next step :lmt: )

I have posted some pictures under a different post (http://forum.oes.org/viewtopic.php?t=28077)

Thanks for the welcome :)
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