Case Study: Chaffee
Chaffee is an alert terrier with a penchant for seeking out and consuming goose poop (and other miscellaneous objects).
Any attempt from her owners to retrieve the item from her mouth only encourages Chaffee to swallow the item faster and with more enthusiasm. Dogs with this issue end up exhibiting one of two behaviors: guarding items that are valuable to them because they don’t want anyone to take it away, or in the emergency room from swallowing something dangerous.
Chaffee’s foraging behavior was taken with relative ease until the day she digested toxic wood chips. This resulted in an emergency trip to the vet office… and a daunting vet bill.
The wood chips came to pass and she recovered, but her longing to seek out and digest potentially toxic objects remained intact. That is when Chaffee’s owners called for help.
Teach A Seek Command
To remedy the problem we taught Chaffee a seek command.
The seek command simply means, “Stop what you’re doing and use your nose to find something interesting.”
The interesting item was a treat we threw on the ground when she was not looking.
When Chaffee sniffed the ground without permission (usually when we were approaching a goose population), she was encouraged to rush along and jog a few seconds.
She is NOT a fan of jogging.
Chaffee soon learned that sniffing without a command is not rewarding – not only does she not get to sniff, she has to jog – while sniffing on command, reaps results.
Do you have a dog who likes to sniff or dine on goose excrement? And if so, how do you channel that energy?