Who's Training Whom? Stick And Treat

In the house, Cookie's got much better at not chewing up everything in sight. She's got a handle on things so they don't just randomly jump into her mouth any more. Much.

When she does get something to play with, though, sooner or later she's determined to eat it.

She cannot have any toys unsupervised.

Outside, there are so many temping things, sticks and branches in particular.

And with the wild weather, there have been plenty of them in spite of all the snow we had.

It wouldn't be a problem if she just liked bouncing around with the sticks or shredding them. That is, of course, allowed. But like with everything else, if it hangs around her mouth long enough, it gets eaten.

Eating sticks is not such a great idea.

Our bright plan was to teach her to drop the stick when asked, or leave it when asked. Good enough plan, no?

Cookie is a very good girl, always eager to please and from the start she's been more than happy to drop or leave the stick on request. Rightfully, she got rewarded with a praise and a treat.

All sounds good, doesn't it?

Perfectly good plan. But Cookie learned something else from it: "If I grab a stick, and then drop it when asked, I get a treat!"

Can you see where this is going?

Yup. Cookie will grab a stick. Then she'll drop it just long enough to acquire her treat and grab it again (or a different one if there are more around). That is her new game.

How many sticks can she grab and drop per minute?

Just in case you're wondering—a lot.

And yes, she'll leave one if you ask her, just to find another one. She thinks it's a great game and a great way to get all the treats you can eat!

Best laid plans ...

So now what? I guess trying to turn "an empty mouth" into a trick ...? Or teach her to carry around something else so the mouth is occupied doing that? Or just ignore the whole thing in hopes that she will lose interest in both the game and the sticks?

Yes, she's a smart Cookie. Plus we think that Jasmine is secretly coaching her.

So who exactly is training whom?

How do you outsmart a dog who has outsmarted you?

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Happy Birthday, Cookie


  1. Oh yea, she is a smart one and taught you exactly what she wants!!!

    1. Yes, she did. That's why we suspect Jasmine coaching her. Though Cookie is quite smart on her own and very observant, figuring stuff out all the time.

  2. Two of our dogs did the same things with cat toys. "If I pick it up and bring it to you, you'll say, 'Drop it,' I drop it and then I get a treat."

    I had to train them out of it. First, I didn't reward every time they dropped the toy. Though that can sometimes make it even more rewarding so that certainly wasn't enough.

    Then I caught them right when they were about to pick up a cat toy, and said, 'Leave it." That got lots of praise and a leave it.

    And then I rewarded them for just walking by a cat toy and not looking at it or thinking about it.

    Still, every once in a while, Tucker or Lilah will try the pick up the toy game. I don't reward them anymore for the Drop it. Game over. Mostly. ;-)

    --Woofs (and purrs) from Life with Dogs and Cats

    1. LOL We [humans] have a hard time being at least as smart as our dogs, huh?

      Rewarding for walking by a cat toy, great idea. Kind of hard with sticks, since they're everywhere!

      We are trying to just ignore her with the stick to see what happens, though often we do have to ask for drop it eventually when she starts eating it *sigh

  3. Replies
    1. I know, right? And her name works perfectly with that LOL

  4. My brand new baby is already that kind of smart. It helps that I give him his commands in some situations when I have no treat, like Sit when he's waiting to go outside. He gets a Good Sit and the door opens. But yes, it's going to be a long road. :)

  5. Bentley seems to always figure out a way to extra treats too! It is sad when our dogs outsmart us again and again! BOL!

  6. Lol, smart girl! :) I'd go with teaching her to hold a toy in her mouth when you go on walks. I've actually been meaning to do this with Niles (for a totally different reason) but just haven't gotten started yet.

    Good luck with whatever you guys go with!

    1. Yeah, that's one of my thoughts. If the mouth has something already in it ...


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