The Dogcharmer: Bella

When it comes to tug of war, don’t play.

Bella rejoining NAFTA. —Courtesy Tyler Lee

Dear Dogcharmer,

My 10-year-old mix breed Bella recently started picking up my 3-year-old son’s toys and socks, and won’t let go of them. It ends up as a tug of war I don’t want to play. Any suggestions? And why do you think she’s doing it all of a sudden?





Dear Tyler,

Perhaps Bella thinks that the U.S. withdrawal from NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) applies to her. In that case, it’s time for you to convince Bella that in your household, cooperative free trade still applies. She’s probably a little jealous of the attention your son is getting, and found an effective way to garner some of that attention for herself by grabbing disallowed stuff. So, rejoin NAFTA in your house by trading with Bella, instead of skirmishing with her. Next time she comes to you with a “sock-face,” hold a treat under her nose with one hand, and say “Drop it” with your other hand under her mouth. The great likelihood is that she will drop the sock to get the more desirable treat. It’s a very positive way to get her to learn and cooperate with the command “Drop It,” which can be extremely useful in many situations. I might also suggest that you try to get Bella to feel less gypped of attention by giving her a special toy (a hollow marrow bone with a piece of meat wedged in the middle, or a Kong with peanut butter, etc.) from time to time when you want exclusive time with your son. More exercise for Bella can’t hurt. As “they” say, “A tired dog is a well-behaved dog.”


Best of luck,

The Dogcharmer

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