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  • Liz MacHaffie

The Counting Game



This is a simple way to get things from your dog that he shouldn’t have, without rewarding him with a game of tug, chasing him, or creating conflict that might lead to guarding.


Step 1: Teach Your Dog the Game!

  • Count up from 1, placing one treat on the ground in a pile with each number. When your dog gets there, he gets to eat them!

  • As he's finishing the treats, run to another place and start counting and placing treats again.

  • Repeat just a few times per session.

  • You dog should learn that when you count, it means he can run to you and get treats! Look for him to respond to your counting within a few numbers. This will tell you he understands!

  • Play the counting game a few times during the week when your pup doesn’t have things to help teach him the game first!

  • Practice when your dog has objects he CAN have, like toys. This is a great way to bridge between learning the game and dropping valued things.


Step 2: Use the Game To Get Forbidden Objects

  • When your dog has something you don’t want him to have, grab some treats and start counting. Try not to move toward or put pressure on your dog.

  • When he gets to you, scatter some treats or close the door/gate behind you so that you can pick up the forbidden object without competition.

  • Keep playing the Counting Game every now and then even once he’s learned it. That way, it doesn't always end in you taking something.

Have questions or concerns? Let your trainer know; we're here to help!

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