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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 20173
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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Hi I have a female 18 month terrier. I rescued her 8 months

Customer Question

Hi I have a female 18 month bull terrier. I rescued her 8 months ago. Over the 8 months she's developed an obsession for sticks/logs. She's pretty I obedient until she gets hold of a stick/log on a walk. Every command goes out the window and it takes forever to put her lead on at the end of a walk. If she can't find a stick she has been know to up root small trees or hang off tree branches until they snap! There is know aggression involved even when other dogs try and take her stick from her, however she has taken me down a couw of times! I've tried a number of things all have failed!
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 4 years ago.
Hi JaCustomer,

My name is Jane. I have been working professionally with animals especially dogs in both health and behavioral issues for over 18 years. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.

In order to supply you with the best information, I do need to ask for some additional information. Once I receive your answer, it will likely take me about 30-45 minutes to type up your response. I hope you can be patient.

How long has she had this obsession?
Is she always able to fit the log into her mouth?
What type of muzzle are you using?
Is she biting you when you try and take the stick away?
What other commands does she know?
Does she obey you the first time you give commands?
How are you teaching the leave it command?
Does she leave other objects on command?

What kind of treats do you use when training?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I'm not sure when it started I think probably before I got her. She picked up a stick on my first walk with her, but would leave it when I told her to. It's escalated over the 8 months I've had her.

Yes she can always fit it in her mouth. She will run around for the whole walk with it. It's becoming more and more difficult to get her back at the end of a walk.

I used a material puzzle.

I've tried all sorts of treats including cheese, chic, sausage and different dog biscuits

The leave it command takes a while. She doesn't always respond to commands straight away. She knows sit, lie down, leave, no, down and come. Her re call is amazing when she doesn't have a stick. She's my 3rd bull terrier and I am a dog walked. I've never known an obsession like it! I also foster dogs
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 4 years ago.

I think it is wonderful that you are so involved with rescue work. Often dogs listen much better when they first know you because they are unsure of their place. Once they are comfortable, they start testing their boundaries. This can and often does include not immediately obeying our commands. When there are no consequences, they push it even further and if they feel it is important enough to them, they will ignore you completely. It sounds like this might be the case with your girl.

I think that the issue is more than just the stick though I do understand that this issues needs to be addressed separately as well as along with the larger issue. This breed as I'm sre you know is very strong willed and needs a strong willed owner. Many are very obvious in their dominance while some are more subtle and are passively dominant. A truly submissive obedience trained dog obeys the first time, every time. so the first thing I'm going to suggest is to start obedience training her on a daily basis.

I am assuming you know how to do this, but I have a great site that teaches how to train that i'm going to include. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.

Training works best if you train at least 30 minutes a day (two 15 minute sessions). I would start making your dog work via the Nothing in life is free program (NILF). It is outlined below.

Unfortunately, the site does not allow me to make clickable links, so to view the supporting websites, you will need to copy and paste the link into a new browser window or tab.

I would never use ordinary treats for the leave it command. I do like to use hot dogs or vienna sausage pieces as they coat the hand with oils and keep the dog interested in you even after the treat is consumed. Liver slivers are good for this and I recommend them even though they are very messy. Most dogs will give up even items they are obsessed about to get these types of treats.

With the leave it command, you need to start with something she really doesn't care about. When she drops the item on command, reward her for the behavior with the extra special treat. don't use these treats for other commands. You can use the sight of the treat to tempt her into dropping the item, but don't give it to her until the item is dropped. Many use the "leave it" command. I like using a different word that you don't use. I use OUST since it will not be confusing for the dog.

Additionally, many dogs will not obey the command if they find you always take the object away and never give it back. So you start with items that can be given back to her. While treats are great, she also needs calm praise as well.

Once she is obeying the command every time and knows she gets the tasty treat, then bring a stick inside to work with. If she is not chewing them and ingesting them, you can give the stick back in the house. You might even purchase some larger round poles from the hardware store specifically for her to chew. Use these for the leave it command practice. You can even carry one on the walks. If she knows that the pole is coming home with her, she will be more inclined to come to you when called on the walk. Right now, her stick is taken away when the walk is over, so just having that pole with you in an appropriate length may do the trick to correct the issue.

Work on the recall command as well, but I think having a wood pole for her to take around will do the trick. A wood barebell might be a good choice as well, but the poles are cheaper and you can replace them easily when the chew marks get too pronounced.

Many dogs do get obsessed over various things and that obsession can be used and channeled in such a way as to become a reward for obeying. Many working dogs are trained to be ball obsessed so it can be used as a reward for obeying a command. The pole might be used for the same purpose. Once she realizes that you will give her the pole, she will be more likely to come when called and give up any "stick" she may have found for "her" pole.

I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have .
If you have questions in the future that you wish me to answer, you may go here and bookmark the page or make it a favorite. It is best to put my name "JANE" in the question as well. Please recommend me to your friends and family members if they have any problems with their dog as well. I would truly appreciate it.