I just came in from being outside with the dogs. Melissa found something....it was squishy, sort of rubbery. I am not quite sure what it was. It was not a piece from one of their toys. I venture a guess it was the remains of an animal. Perhaps it was dropped by the crows that fly over early morn, there was no other body parts to be found.
Melissa was tossing it in the air, content to play by herself while I threw a ball for another dog. Melissa would drop it occasionally give chase to the ball, and then go back to the foreign squishy thing. At one point the other dog ran over to take a sniff of the 'thing'and the game changed. Now the squishy thing took on more value. Another dog wanted it! Melissa ran with it in her mouth, the other dog followed. A great chase began.
And so it is with objects your dog may pick up in the house. If I am not attentive to Melissa's every move, she may pick up a forbidden object. It may be a pen, or my reading glasses. I do not make a big deal over it. If I did, the object would have more value to Melissa, she would begin a game of keep away. Just as she did this morning with the other dog and the squishy thing. Instead I trade, I give Melissa something yummy, she gives up her treasure. I find she is beginning to bring me objects around the house, rather then running away with them and hiding them in her blankets. She has learned that giving up is good, she gets something better. I learn that I had better pay a bit more attention to what my puppy girl is doing. Think toddler, supervise at all times.
The game was the same this morning out in the woods. The squishy things had value only to Melissa until another dog wanted it. And then it became more valuable to my young Borzoi puppy. Melissa ran with it, the other dog chased. It was fun and a great work out for both dogs. When the other dog could not get it from Melissa she ran back to me for another game of fetch with the ball. Melissa watched from a distance. The squishy thing laying at her feet, it had lost some value. The other dog was no longer interested.
I am still not sure what that squishy thing was, but when we were ready to head up to the house, I walked over to Melissa, asked her to give, upon which she placed it in my hand.....icky.
More on how to teach the foundation steps of give in a future blog.