In your puppy's mind, your stuffed animals are her stuffed animals. After all, they feel and look the same as her plush toys, and anything she can chew on is obviously hers. Stopping your stuffed animals from their deadly fate is a job for a new command and a few treats.
Give your puppy a designated toy basket or box. This is her own little collection, where she can find everything she needs to play with. Make sure it's accessible and not too tall or pushed behind something that would prevent her from snatching one of her toys, like a couch or end table.
Show your puppy that her toys are the best things in the world. Every puppy knows that squeaky ducks, tennis balls and ropes are awesome things to chew on, but the youngsters rarely think of them any better than the corner of your couch, your shoes or your stuffed animals. The trick lies in positive association. Toss a few treats in her toy basket or give her a treat when she picks up a toy. The more you associate her things with something positive, the less likely she is to go on the hunt for your belongings.
Teach your puppy the leave it command. This one command will not only save your precious stuffed animals, it will also make your life a whole lot easier should your pup decide to munch down on shoes, socks, grass and anything else that doesn't qualify as canine food. While there are a lot of ways to teach the leave it command, the basics go like this: hold a treat in your hand, say, "Leave it," and wait for your pup to pull her snout away from your hand. Once she does, feed her a treat from your other hand. After your pup reacts positively to the command each time, ramp up the difficulty. Have her wait longer for her treat, and make her leave things alone that are on counters, the floor and even on her paws.
Grab a stuffed animal and sit on the floor near your puppy. Tell her to leave it if she approaches it, and then redirect her attention to one of her toys. After she's leaving the stuffed animal alone when you're near it, stand up and walk away but keep an eye on her. The second she goes in for a sniff, say, "Leave it," and toss one of her toys her way. Keep testing her by adding more stuffed animals or disappearing into another room, but peeking out from around the corner to watch her.
Keep them out of reach when you're gone. Teaching your little girl to leave your stuffed animals alone when you're home isn't too difficult, but it's nearly impossible to reinforce when you're away from the house. Instead of risking coming home to a bunch of stuffing strewn across the floor, keep the stuffed animals up high and out of reach, in your closet or hidden inside a lidded crate.
Never yell or hit your pup for taking a stuffed animal.
When practicing the leave it command, never allow your pup to have what you're telling her to leave alone.
As with any training, your pup won't understand what you want her to do the first few times and maybe even the first day or two. Don't get frustrated. Keep training playful and light.
There's no reason to avoid giving your puppy plush toys of her own. It's a common misconception that dogs cannot tell the difference between what's yours and theirs. A little training and reinforcement works wonders.
Items You Will Need
- Basket or box
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