A bone of contention!

Many people feel that they ought to be able to take an item from their dog or its bowl, with no resistance.
I commonly hear that people have been advised to remove food from their puppy’ s bowl to “train” the puppy to accept this, and so owners carry out this advice with perfectly good intentions.
Sadly this will actually teach a puppy the exact opposite – that an owner may randomly take away a valued resource (food) at any moment and so the food bowl must be protected!
Much better advice is to never take food from a puppy’s bowl, but rather add to it. As you walk past drop in an extra kibble, or tasty treat, and your dog will start to associate you being near its bowl as a positive thing. You won’t be a threatening presence and there will be no reason for them to feel defensive.
Being able to take items from your dog is an important capability, but it should be taught in a positive way. This involves teaching a “drop” command. This can be done when your puppy has a toy in its mouth, hold up another toy in one hand and a treat in the other. As they are dropping their toy say “Drop” and give them the treat and praise. They can then have your toy and when they have gone off with it, pick up the toy your dog dropped. Over time your dog will learn that the command “Drop” happens when they relinquish something, and that it is a happy event. Don’t forcibly remove items from your puppy’s mouth as it may make them feel threatened, and less likely to let go!
If your dog is already aggressive around their food bowl, or items they value, don’t start training without talking to a behaviourist first. Give your dog plenty of space when eating and remove all contentious toys, until you’ve received advice specific to you and your dog.
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