By Sally Bradbury
Play gentle games of tug with your puppy. Use a long soft toy; rope or fleece is ideal. Animate the toy on the floor and encourage puppy to grab it. You just need to hold it and be part of the fun. There is no need to pull or shake the toy, let puppy do that.
Playing tug has many advantages, not least in giving him an outlet for his play biting. By putting it on cue you can teach a puppy what to bite and when to bite. Much better than trying to insist on no biting at all during play. After all that’s how puppies play. They have no hands.
Let puppy watch you hide a toy and then encourage him to find it. Progress onto hiding it unseen and let puppy do what comes naturally and use his nose to search. Every family needs a dog that can find the keys.
Gently roll a soft ball or toy across the ground and encourage puppy to chase and pick it up and bring it back.
There are a hundred and one uses for a dog that retrieves. Perhaps the biggest advantage is that you can completely avoid triggering the guarding behaviour that is often associated with having to take an item from him that he has picked up, something he shouldn’t have. Using praise and encouragement just as you would with his toy will see him willingly bringing the forbidden item to you.