Hi Julie

I have a 7 month old Golden who like’s to pick up anything in his sight, like a vacuum.   We are trying to teach him not too, but it goes in one floppy ear and out the other. Any suggestions on what I can do?

Thank you,

Mr. Hoover

Dear Mr. Hoover;

Although it is very normal for puppies to be inquisitive of their surroundings and want to put things in their mouth, you are right to be concerned by this behaviour.  Dog’s with oral fixations are the number one candidates for becoming the victim of a choking incident or requiring surgery to remove dangerous objects from their digestive track.  Teaching your dog a rock solid DROP and LEAVE IT command, in addition to managing the environment, is your best preventative measure in avoiding a potentially expensive or fatal accident.

First of all, manage the environment to the best of your ability.  Make sure potentially dangerous items (house cleaners, small coking hazard items, electrical cords) are always out of your dogs’ reach.

Crate your dog when you are not home, at night and when you are unable to supervise him.  This way, he can’t get into anything behind your back.  Monitor your dog’s activities when he is out of his crate, so you can take the appropriate action should he pick up something he is not allowed to have.

Giving your dog the appropriate level of daily exercise for his breed and age can greatly reduce oral fixation issues.  Some dogs get into everything simply to get our attention and to alleviate boredom.  If your dog is teething, make sure you provide him with frozen teething rings or chew toys to help relieve his discomfort.

Praise your dog every time you find him playing with one of his toys, so he learns what it is he is allowed to have.  Every time you direct your dog to LEAVE IT or DROP an item, replace the forbidden item with one of his toys.

Teach your dog a DROP command to get items that he already has in his mouth out and a LEAVE IT command for items that he plans on putting in his mouth.  For some dogs, you will only need to monitor them closely for a few weeks before they learn what they are allowed to have and what they are not. For others, it can take months, as it all depends on the level of oral fixation.

I highly suggest that every dog owner takes a canine first aid course and learns the Heimlich maneuver and CPR.  Knowing what to do in an emergency situation can save your best friend’s life, especially if you have an accident prone pooch.