The Great Pizza Dilemma

I usually feel guilty when I bring up Shiva’s behavioural issues. Really she is such a good dog, better than I ever anticipated, and it feels a lot like whining. Wah, wah, she doesn’t come when I call her every single time, sob sob, she takes food out of the garbage can, boo hoo, she she ate my neighbour’s hamster. It sounds so petty. I try to just forgive and forget as opposed to complaining about every little incident here. What’s a dead rodent between friends?*

Nonetheless, we had an altercation last week that still bugs me today. I’ve asked a few people for their opinions and decided I may as well put the same question to blogland. At the very least maybe you’ll be able to sympathise. Mostly, I am oncerned I didn’t handle the whole thing properly.

But I digress. Here is the scene:

Me: I’m walking my dog, oh yeah, just walking my dog, life is cool, I’m walking my dog…

Shiva: Sniff, sniff, sniff… Sniff? Score! Pizza! *jerks off to the side, pulling my arm out of its socket*

Me: Hey! What are you doing? Sheevs!

Shiva: Mmmm, pizza.

Me: Ugh. Shiva. Drop.

Shiva: *snicker* As if!

Me: Drop it.

Shiva: What a smeghead.

Rightly or wrongly, it was drilled into my head early on that once you give a verbal cue, you cannot allow your dog to get away without following through. If you don’t think your dog will perform the behaviour than you shouldn’t give the cue. Otherwise they will learn the word means nothing and practice ignoring you. So already I’d screwed up.

In my defense, Shiva does have a terrific “drop it”. Most of the time. She will drop anything I ask her to in the house and she will usually drop things outside. Except food she knows she isn’t supposed to have. I could get her to drop a bone a lot easier than I could a piece of pizza or a chocolate bar. By the way, why do people keep throwing these things on the ground? Just to test me? Sometimes she will find a whole unopened bag of chips. Once there was a package of ground beef. Who leaves ground beef just lying in a bush?

Anyway, once I said “drop it” I felt I had to make her do it. This is where my uncertainty comes in. Should I have just let her have it? What if it was a bottle of pills? What if it was poison? She needs to drop things when I tell her; it could mean the difference between life and death.

On this day, I decided I had to get that pizza out of her mouth.

It wasn’t easy. Shiva wouldn’t bite me, that I knew. It wasn’t the first time I’d put my hand in her mouth to pull something out. It wasn’t even the hundredth time, sadly. She is used to it and doesn’t even growl. She just tries really hard to keep her jaw closed. I managed to pull away the pizza that was sticking out the sides and grab the stuff at the front, but there was no way she was opening any further, no matter what I did. For a few minutes we just kind of hung out like that, waiting to see who was more stubborn. Against my better nature, I tried offering her some of the treats in my pocket, hoping she would go for the kibble. No dice. A bird in the hand is worth to in the bush, I guess. And pizza is the most valuable bird of all.

Eventually I called it a tie. I removed everything I could from the inside of her mouth then pulled away, letting her swallow the chunks she kept hidden from me. But I was left with a very bad feeling. I felt guilty for fighting with her in such a way and worried I’d damaged our relationship. The whole episode made me feel like crap.

Of course, true to her nature, Shiva couldn’t care less. A few steps back into the walk, she was trotting happily by my side, like nothing had happened. Gotta love a dog who simply doesn’t know how to hold a grudge. It made me feel even worse.

What would you do in this scenario? Would you even ask your dog to drop the pizza in the first place? Should I have let her go at it? Should I have waited her out longer? Am I the worst dog person in the whole world?

*Shiva didn’t actually eat a hamster. I was trying to be funny. If I offended you, I am sorry. It was actually a chinchilla.**

**Kidding! Kidding!

74 thoughts on “The Great Pizza Dilemma

  1. Honestly, I don’t teach a drop. I have hounds, and I refuse to try and bash my head up against a rock (aka their nature). I accept the kind of dogs I have.

    Bella has a pretty decent ‘leave it’ so if I see it ahead of time, I can tell her that. Other than that, I just reach in and pull whatever it is out. Neither girls cares and I save it just for emergencies. In the house, I use ‘trade’ a lot. It isn’t on a formal cue either. I just dangle something yummy for them and they drop whats in their mouth for the yummy thing I’m holding.

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    • I’ve never thought of teaching a trade cue before, but now it makes sense. I doubt I will ever be able to trade something for a slice of pizza, unless it’s that dang package of ground beef, but I can try! Thanks for the suggestion, and for making me feel better about sticking my hand in her mouth. 😛

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  2. Bender is pretty good at dropping stuff on walks – or not picking it up in the first place if I see what he is snuffling at. I did once have to pull a bread roll out of his mouth and he has a strong jaw, and bread is soft, so I didn’t get it all.

    Barbie is awful at it. She barely picks anything up in her mouth at home, so it’s hard to teach her to drop things! She ate something crunchy last week that I suspect was a small chicken bone but it didn’t cause any problems for her. I can’t rely on her dropping things, I have to take them out of her mouth, and she is good about it. I think it’s part of our relationship.

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    • That’s the thing! I can get Shiva to drop almost anything at home. Often if she finds something she’ll trot into the living room to show me. But outside is another matter. It’s very frustrating!

      It does help to know I am not the only one routinely pulling things out of my dog’s mouth. I’ve never seen any of my fellow dog walkers do it and I was starting to worry I was the only person in the world who did so. Maybe it’s just part of our relationship too.

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      • ah yes, the ‘dogs don’t generalise well’ tenet of dog behaviour 😉 at home does not equal outside on walks….maybe you don’t see it cos it it doesn’t take long to grab something out of a dog’s mouth (unless it’s Bender with his power jaws) so the odds of you catching them doing it are low?

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  3. I can sympathize. I’ve been there. And I know all the voices that come up in your head in that situation–especially the “I can’t let her get away with that; I told her to drop it.” I used to live near a joint that sold chicken wings by the piece so we were always coming across chicken bones on the street. It was hair-raising.

    The best you can do is to work on “drop it” with easier temptations around the house and hope that if you really need her to someday, Shiva will listen. But pizza is probably not worth the battle. And certainly not worth the guilt.

    I wouldn’t drop it either.

    BTW, what is a dead rodent between friends? A stinky handwarmer. (I hope you don’t get hate mail for that one. I loved your perverse sense of humor.)

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    • Thanks. I can’t believe I almost thought I was alone! I feel much better about it all now that I know it’s just a dog thing and I am not some kind of monster. I don’t remember my childhood dog ever picking things up off the street but perhaps I just blocked it out.

      We might need to go back to the basics a bit and work on dropping things in the house first before I can expect her to drop cheeseburgers outside the home. It never hurts to work on foundation behaviour.

      I’m glad you thought it was funny!

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  4. Did you try blowing into her nose? I know this sounds strange, but it has worked for me. The dog’s jaw is clenching the pizza, so it cannot breathe through it’s mouth. If you keep blowing into her nose (from a close distance–you don’t have to put your mouth around it, although it probably would work faster 🙂 the dog gets distracted and its reflex is to breathe but you are preventing a good inhale. Usually, the dog drops the item or lessens its clench. Then grab it and say No NO!

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  5. Shiva’s sister Delilah 😉 wouldn’t drop the pizza either. In fact she mostly won’t ‘drop’ any type of food. Sometimes on our walks she is eating something and I don’t know what it is. I’ve been so desperate to have her ‘drop’ it and keep shouting ‘drop it’ ‘drop it’. I too will reach in there to pull it out of her mouth if need be.

    On my facebook a couple weeks back someone posted pictures of little chunks of cheese with nails in them! The caption said something like, “People are putting nails in cheese and leaving them at dog parks.” I debated on whether to blog about it or not, (I don’t want to give some sicko another idea) but when I tried to verify the information I could only find reference to it happening in South America. I decided not to bring the ‘incident’ to the states.

    That being said however I don’t want her eating things off the ground. Period. You never know when someone had put something on/in it. She will ‘leave’ it if I see it first, but not if she does.

    That’s when we wrestle. So if you are a bad dog owner, than I am too.

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    • That’s the problem, right? You have to see it first. Since people in my city like to throw their litter underneath bushes and behind corners, I don’t always see it before it’s in her mouth. Even then. We have a good “leave it” but not a great one. *sigh*

      Yay for wrestling! I no longer think what I did was wrong. After reading all these comments, I realize it is perfectly normal. 😛 Crazy dogs.

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  6. I’ve been there with Toby, (who is also a gulper), so many times, and felt the same way as you, blaming myself for trying to tell him to drop it, not watching more carefully for food, etc., etc….and you are so right, why do people leave things along the road in the first place? Ground beef – WTH???

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    • I know, right?? Littering is my number one pet peeve. Even before I had a dog is just ticked me right off. Now it almost makes me rage. There are garbage cans all over my city. Is it really too hard to walk a couple of blocks?

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  7. Been there. Done that, more than once with Leroy. Once it was a hamburger covered with ants, the other time it was a chicken wing bone. Each were on the sidewalk when we went for a walk. Each time I told him to leave it, and each time he did NOT listen. Each time I went in and grabbed it. I didn’t feel bad about it. The wing I had to fight to get and it was 1/2 way down his throat by the time I was able to grab it. Those things can make him sick, and it’s my responsibility to keep him safe. If your a bad owner I am right there with you:)

    I am wondering if Shiva chewed the chinchilla or swallowed it whole:) LOL

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    • Mmmm, ant burgers….

      Shiva has definitely chewed her fair share of chicken bones. I can usually convince her to drop those, however. Perhaps because she knows they are very easy for me to remove from her mouth. Pizza was new and soft – she wasn’t giving up that fight.

      If you don’t feel bad, I won’t either. Thank you very much for easing my conscience!

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  8. Honestly, if it’s something dangerous, I would do absolutely the same thing. Even with formerly resource guarder Shayne. I’ve done so much work with her and food that i know one incident isn’t going to ruin anything for us.

    Because she’s a former resource guarder, I have worked RIDICULOUSLY hard on her having a bomb-proof ‘out’. She may not do it on one cue (because in the heat of the moment, i can’t help but repeat it) but she has dropped the skull of some small decomposing critter (eating those dried out bones would have been BAAAD)… she found it on a hike and from 20ft away i hear her crunch on something and it wasn’t a stick “SHAYNEY OUT OUT OUT!!!” and she spits it out.

    I suspect that even with all of the work I did w/ her about her kibble bowl and such that she may think about guarding her 4lb raw roasts (i mean it’s a 4lb roast, who wouldn’t guard that LOL!!)… so, I have really worked hard on her outing super duper high value items. She’ll out the roast so i can reward and safely pick it up. To get to that point I will periodically ask her to out the big food item, reward her with something high value, then let her return to the roast. Since MOST of the time I let her go back to the roast, the behavior stays reliable even when i need to take it away

    Shayne is really reliable to drop high value food items as long as i can spit out the cue before the food is already down the hatch (and with small things, that’s really the battle, me saying it fast enough). Rio, on the other hand, doesn’t have the same level of ‘out’ (since out of necessity I haven’t had to work it the same as with Shayne) and if he doesn’t out an item, I do my best to retrieve it. At the same time, if it’s something that I’m not worried about him eating, i don’t bother giving the cue.

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    • Shiva eats a lot of peanuts on our walking adventure. I don’t know why, but those things are located all over our city, in every corner, under every leaf. It’s so weird but she finds at least one per walk. Since they are usually hidden I don’t see them until she has sniffed them out. If that’s what she has in her mouth, I generally let her keep it. Peanuts don’t hurt her and it would be far too difficult to fight with her over every one.

      I haven’t worked too much on dropping food that I have given her to eat. If I’ve given it to her, it’s fine to have, and I worried about creating guarding issues by making her give something up that is rightfully hers. Since she has always been so good on that front, amazingly, I didn’t want to risk it. Do you think this would be a problem? Should I teach her to leave her food bowl even after I have released her to eat? I’d love to know your opinion on this!

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      • No… the ONLY reason i started doing it with shayne is because sometimes she gets a hunk of raw meat that is WAYYYY too big for her to eat in one sitting (like 4lb roast) and she will not self-regulate (stop eating it when she’s full). So i needed to be able to get the food without her guarding it. That’s the ONLY reason i practice her “out”ing the food in her mouth… because there are times when i NEED to get the roast away from her. If it were kibble i’d NEVER do it.

        But a great side effect of that work is that she will ‘out’ almost anything since there are very very very few things more valuable to her than 4lbs of raw meat LOL!

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        • Okay, thank you very much for the clarification! That makes a lot of sense. Shiva will drop all bones and toys, as well as anything that is non-edible, like a newspaper or plastic cup. But when it comes to food, it’s really hard. I’ve even had a few moments with her treat pouch in agility where I can’t get her to let go without prying open her jaws. We need to work on that one for sure!

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  9. Haylie – she would drop it maybe 50-50 of the time.
    Fred – holy hell he would never drop it. I am too busy trying to get Fred not to pull me down the street into traffic versus worrying about what he is going to eat. He will have to go to the vet if he eats something bad which is no fun for him is how I figure it 🙂 Im too wound up sometimes so I figure eat the pizza – im not going to fight you over it. I may toss out a leave it command but he doesnt even know his name half of the time 🙂

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    • LOL. We train for what works for us and our dogs. Clearly what works best for Fred is eating that dang pizza!

      Since I live in a neighbourhood with garbage every two feet, “leave it” has always been crucial. Now Shiva will ignore almost everything on her own except the obvious edibles. Of course, there are exceptions. 😛

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  10. I’m in the camp that believes emergency situations may call for force or other unpleasantness. If my dog is going to eat a dead thing, and won’t leave it, put it down, or trade – I’m going to physically remove it from her mouth. She’s a big softy, though, and generally a stern “put it down” will have her slinking away from it. :S

    That being said…dead things or bones are some of the only things I’ll remove. Random bits of food are fair game. I have hear the stories of poisoned food, food with nails, etc…but where we live the chances of that are very, very small.

    I personally don’t think that what you did was wrong!

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    • That reminds me of the time I once took a bird leg out of Shiva’s mouth, only I didn’t know it was a bird leg before I had it in my hand. I definitely did a little gross-out dance after that one!

      Thanks for the moral support!

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  11. Stumpy and Shiva are two peas in a pod…scary!
    We’ve played out that scenario in exactly the same way, many, many times. I expect we will again, too. Stumpy will never forget that she was once a starving dog.

    Sorry about your neighbors, hamster…chinchilla… whatever. that was funny!

    Happy, Waggin’ Tails, FUREVER!
    Stumpy and me

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    • I’ve wondered if that’s why she is so intent on eating garbage and mud and grass. If it is because she was once living as a stray. But I can’t be certain it’s not just part of who she is: just a crazy dog.

      As far as I know my neighbours don’t keep rodents. Though I think one does have a ferret. Does that count?

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  12. I have had those moments… the completely ignored command that would be an enormous pain to force-enforce. I think it’s a good idea to really enforce drop-it… sounds like you did what I would do. Gwynn loves the little frozen pucks of coffee in discarded Tim’s cups in the winter, super frustrating. I think he picked something thats bad for him on purpose. And there are SO MANY Tim’s cups. They aren’t biodegratable, people! Put them in the trash! Ground beef, though, that I never found.
    lol what’s a dead rodent between friends!

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    • Ugh, Tim’s cups! I didn’t even think of those which is surprising because they are everywhere!! And it’s weird too because Shiva ignores the ones from Starbucks and Second Cup, but Tim’s she is all over. Dang dogs!

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  13. I would run home, order a pizza and eat the entire thing in front of her while making her remain in a down stay right in front of me. Ha! Just kidding. Somewhat… My dogs have reliable leave its (well, Hurley is still in getting there stage) if I see it first. There is a Taco Bell around the corner from us so I am the most diligent dog walker in terms of spotting stuff I don’t want them to have. But when it happens, I pry if they don’t drop it. Calling a draw every now and then isn’t the worst thing – there have been times when I just haven’t had the energy for the fight. So long as that’s a rare event and not every day, I don’t think there’s any harm.

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    • And you know… That is just what I did! How did you guess? 😉

      When we are walking in areas I know there tends to be a lot of food waste I am much more diligent. But this was just on a residential pathway and the slice was under a bush. It’s like someone planted it there just to mess with me!

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  14. I didn’t laugh. Not one single time, (well, maybe at the hamster bit) you know why? I’ve been there * and it sucks*. Felix is a garbage dog and I have been in your shoes, sitting on the pavement, little dog in my lap, using both hands to try and pry his disgusting garbage filled jaw apart…yeah right! The jaws of life wouldn’t stand a chance. Once they latch onto garbage, they latch on…isn’t it awful? I feel for you! (and WTH is wrong with your neighborhood? GROUND BEEF???)

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      • I don’t know. Clearly we need to move.

        It makes me feel so much better than so many people can relate. I really appreciate your commiseration on this one. I have never seen anyone pry open their dog’s jaws like I often do and I was starting to feel very self-conscious about it.

        You say it too? I normally don’t but I used it here for the purpose of seeing if anyone got the reference. You are clearly the only one who noticed. Did you watch Red Dwarf too?

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  15. Kristine – you were right to take what you could out of her mouth – it may be yummy to Shiva – but it could also be deadly. Our Sheba once grabbed a piece of meat that was on the path to the park – and within minutes she was seizing on the ground as it was laced with poison. After several days at the vet in an induced coma – she recovered – but 5 other dogs in the neighborhood did not. So – you may think you look foolish – but you were doing what is best for your dog.

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    • That is insane. I don’t get the point of such a thing; why would someone poison meat for dogs they don’t even know? Was the individual ever found out? I’m guessing not. But I am very glad Sheba survived it. What a terrifying thing to go through!

      I definitely feel a lot better about the pizza battle now!

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  16. I would have, and have done the same. If I see the tempting morsel ahead of time I can usually get in a well time “leave it” and *usually* my dogs will leave it (Mickey is better about this than Kayloo). However, there have been many a time when I am wrestling with Kayloo to get whatever disgusting thing she has found out of her mouth.

    Kayloo has a really sensitive stomache so we are doubly motivated to make sure she doesn’t eat anything she isn’t used to… my floors can only handle so much 🙂

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    • Yikes, I hear that. Now that we have discovered Shiva’s intolerance of red meat, I certainly don’t want her scarfing too much unknown protein product. I really don’t need to go back to the homecooked meals again – that was exhausting!

      Thanks for making me feel a little less alone.

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  17. Ryker has a good leave it, drop it. He has even dropped a live mouse for me. I like Bonnie’s take on this with the nose blowing. I have more trouble with getting a release on a really good toy when he gets in the mood to hang on to it. But I am in agreement that when you ask for something you’d best get it or your setting yourself up for failure in the future.
    ~S

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    • Shows how every dog has very different motivations, eh? It sounds like Ryker cares a lot more about toys than food. He would make an excellent agility dog!

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  18. I’m with The Lady – my dogs are hounds, too; getting a secure “leave it” or “drop it” is near impossible on a walk. On the other hand, if I see it first, we move away while I signal “leave it!” Except for Emma, who, when I called her name to leave the live mouse, snatched it up (cause she heard the “no” in my tone”) and swallowed it alive and whole. Thought I would hurl – my vet laughed! Emma RIP was a great dog and a devoted sight hound (though a Beagle mix).
    @annie – the poisoned meat is terrifying! it is reason enough to remove ignored “drop it’s.” Glad your pup survived and so sorry others did not :(.
    @Kristine – you were not wrong. Safety first, training second in my book. Shiva recovered and you both will move on. Having said that, with hunting season upon us, I am bracing for the bones and leavings Shiloh will bring home from the neighbors :(. One year, I was in the pasture and looked up at the back of my garage. There was something weird there. When I went to look, it was a skull of a calf! I’m sure Penney RIP brought it home from the neighboring farm which has cows. You never know….

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    • I had to laugh at Emma’s story. I’ve never heard of a dog swallowing a live mouse whole! She sounds like she was full of fun personality. 🙂 Even when they misbehave they crack us up, don’t they?

      Thanks for the kind comments. I think you are right and I will try not to worry about it from now on. I admit, I am kind of curious to see what Shiloh finds over the next few months. Hopefully nothing too awful!

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  19. Okay, that second photo of Shiva was HILARIOUS! What a funny mix of “it wasn’t me/pizza!?!?!” face. Actually, I may have made that same face before.

    My dogs have a hard time giving up pizza too….and I have never once hesitated to shove my hand into their mouth to retrieve said object I asked them to “drop” and they ignored me. 🙂 Oh Sheevs!

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    • LOL. I am glad she could entertain! I was just stunned she was actually looking into the camera. Maybe she thought I would give her the pizza back as a reward?

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  20. just yesterday morning, i had to grab a piece of wood–a slat of some kind (maybe flooring or part of a set of blinds)–out of desmond’s mouth, which he found on the ground near a garbage can.

    it was still there this morning (actually, there were a lot more this morning…weird…), but i just said, “NO” and moved around the junk. desmond seemed disappointed that he couldn’t get at the slats, but i didn’t really care.

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    • Wood? That is so weird. Did he want to play with it or eat it? Poor Desmond, no snack of wooden slats for him. 😛 They pick the strangest things to obsess over.

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  21. I can’t say Riley’s ever gotten a taste of pizza but I’m sure, if given the opportunity, she wouldn’t hesitate to wolf it down! She is guilty of eating dropped vitamins, etc. off of the floor…I swear, my geriatric parents need to keep a better hold on their pills (well, they’re 58, so not quite geriatric, but it’s fun to tease them)!

    Anyway, I can’t really weigh in on the pizza issue, I just wanted to say that I laughed so hard about that hamster bit!! At first I was like, “Whaaaaat? When did Shiva eat a hamster!?!?!?” Too funny! 🙂

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    • I am glad my sense of humour didn’t offend anyone! At least I am not the only slightly morbid person in blogland.

      Fortunately, Shiva has not – to my knowledge – eaten a dead or living animal. Unless you count the pigeon last week but those nasty things are hardly living animals, right?

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  22. Kristine, The previous posters details were in the boxes. It’s no big deal, but it does mean I saw Lauren’s email.

    I’d definitely have tried to get the pizza out of Song’s mouth, as you never know if someone has put poison on it. Song has only once picked up something whilst we have been out. Before I could do anything she had picked it up and swallowed it.

    Song does now the word ‘leave’, but I’ve not taught her a drop command.

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    • Thanks, Sue. I am not sure what else to try. Maybe I will see if the WordPress forum has any other suggestions. Grrrr.

      I have a hard time picture Song scarfing anything like pizza. She is much too elegant and ladylike for such uncouth behaviour. I should fly Shiva over there to teach her some manners!

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  23. First… who are these people that keep leaving food on the ground? Seriously, that’s bizarre.

    Bella knows “drop it” but usually it only works with toys. Trying it with food would be sure to fail in her case. However, I think you did the right thing here! (And Shiva trotting alongside you as if nothing occurred sounds like Bella, who I say has the attention span of a fish sometimes.)

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    • You obviously live in a nice neighbourhood where people don’t treat littering like it’s a sport. It can be pretty bad here in some areas. The city puts out plenty of garbage cans but that doesn’t stop someone from tossing their half-eaten Big Mac on the ground three steps away.

      Hey, don’t knock fish. They can be pretty smart. 😉

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  24. None of my dogs would exchange pizza for kibbles or any other bribe. I wouldn’t even enter the contest once pizza was spotted. I’m sure Shiva chalked the whole incident off as one more thing dogs don’t understand about humans and immediately forgot the whole thing.

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    • You know, I bet you are right. I like the way you put that as it sounds just like her.

      “Weird humans. They don’t sniff butts, they don’t jump on tables, and they don’t eat garbage off the ground. I just don’t think I’ll ever understand them.”

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  25. With Pearl, I have the same problem as the other commenter who said she is too busy keeping her dog from dragging her out into the road to worry about “drop it.” Pearl and I don’t work on “drop it” and “leave it” much on walks (she does well inside the house) because with all her pulling and dog reactivity issues its just not at the top of my list. This means that if she gets into something nasty I basically have to pry it out of her jaws. I feel guilty after reading this post, because I think more about how I don’t want to touch whatever is in her mouth than how I am ruining our relationship (thankfully Pearl is not a grudge holding dog either).

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    • Please don’t feel guilty! I used to be very grossed out as well and half the time I just let her have it because mashed up trash was too vile to put my hands on. But after several years, I am just used to it. Nothing phases me any more, not even the time I had to pull fabric out of her butt. (But that is another, very disgusting, story!)

      And besides, as the other commenters have shown me, it’s perfectly normal and you are not wrecking your relationship. So go back to prying and feeling disgusted all you please!

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  26. In this day and age, I wouldn’t let my dogs eat something I didn’t know where it came from. There are too many nuts out there trying to poison pets and worse, like lace it with crushed glass. I don’t think you overreacted at all. There are some commands that are not negotiable. I don’t give them if I don’t seriously mean them, and I expect them to be obeyed when I do. We do nursing home visits, so taking things off the floor or from other people if we don’t say it’s okay is a big no no — you never know what it could be.

    Don’t beat yourself up over standing firm with her. Sometimes it’s tough, but you did it with the right intentions, and it could be a lifesaver someday!

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    • Thank you very much! Maybe I just get too caught up in worrying about what other people are thinking as I stand there in a battle with my dog, one hand in her mouth, the other on her collar. It looks pretty bad if you don’t understand. But if your comments have taught me anything, it’s that every other dog person has gone through the same thing!

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  27. I agree with everyone, but I think Married with Dawgs had the best answer!! I come across more problems with my absent minded husband, who tends to forget to put anything away, than on walks. 🙂 I try best I can with prevention, using “leave it” or I trade them. Most of the dogs won’t drop, so I don’t use it. Anything of danger, I yank out of their mouths.

    Can I ask what part of the incident made you feel the worse? Was it the need to follow through? Or actually doing it and her refusal? Or was it something else?

    I struggle when I out in public feeling self-conscious and not having the perfect dogs and have done similar things when felt under pressure. Especially when my dogs refuse to listen and then feeling trapped, so to speak, with where to go from there. I think it is my own hammered in beliefs that a dog should respond with one command and is something I have fought with for a long time of when to draw that line. I have been trying to play out your scenario in my head and how I would have responded and I think I would have ended up doing the same thing. As I would have panicked, not because of she grabbed the pizza, but because she didn’t listen, which would have set off my own trigger of past beliefs of being a bad dog owner and then having to make a choice of where to go from there. I have struggled with “perfect dog and owner syndrome” that’s been drilled into my head for a long time. So I have to watch myself for over correcting. (Which in no way implies anything physical) And as a result I have been through those, feeling- like- crap- for- days kind of feelings even when the dogs have already forgiven me. They are tough to work through and I find it hard to forgive myself, but I always learn from it. Over and over. I talk to the dogs about what happen and they help me through it. Though I’m a little slower at grasping the concept then they are. 🙂

    Just a final note, I have gotten squirrels from BRUT by trading. SQUIRRELS!!
    It can be done. 🙂
    I have faith in you. ;P

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    • Thanks for your lovely comment. Honestly, I am not sure what bugged me the most. I definitely dislike forcing open her mouth. It feels so physical, which I have been taught not to be with my dog. I feel like if I can’t get her to do something with just my voice, then I shouldn’t do it at all. Perhaps I have gone too far in that direction. There is nothing wrong with a little manhandling, as long as it is done properly and for the right reasons. It’s not like I was forcing her to open her mouth just for kicks.

      I probably suffer from the same perfectionism you mention. I have pretty high expectations for myself, especially when it comes to things I hold very important, like my dog. I like to do them right and well. If there is a hitch in those plans – as there will be – it can sometimes stew in the back of my mind for days or weeks and I start doubting myself. Thanks for the reminder that it’s okay to not be perfect and for my dog, and me, to screw up every once in a while. That’s how we learn and experience new things, right?

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  28. I was laughing at the eating of the Hamster most of the way through, good to find out that was a joke at the end…I don’t feel so guilty now 😀 but wow Shiva seems to have a good nose for some very odd things that are being left around and you did the right thing, who knows what it might be next time:D

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    • Meh, you don’t have to feel guilty, it WAS just a hamster. A hamster that probably bites and pees on people’s hands. As the former owner of two gerbils, I feel I have the right to make fun of rodents as pets.

      Okay, now I am asking for trouble!

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  29. lol this was so funny. hahahahaha. hamster, chinchilla, ground beef. lol. omg. dying. haha.

    Elli has the same issue! She’s got a solid enough “drop” but sometimes she’ll find something as my head is turned (this is SUPER typical with dropped kibble at work) and I only catch her swallowing whatever the heck it was that she ate. I mean, it could be anything. And with her ridiculous sensitivities, I can’t risk much, ya know. I don’t usually cue her to drop if it’s too late, or even if she’s too fast to eat it. All I tell myself in moments like these is that we seriously need to work on her default leave-it. I figure that if there are any consequences (and there usually are lol) to what she sneakily ate, we’ll deal with them when they arise. If not, it’s just another remind of how much training we still have left!

    Big picture for us: If there is ANY food nearby, she needs to check in with me to see if it’s okay to eat or not. That’s ideal. For me. Can’t say we’ll ever get there, lol, but that’s our ideal. Haha.

    oh, ps. I TOTALLY KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN: WHO LEAVES A WHOLE HOT DOG ON THE GROUND!? GAH.

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    • Default leave it, eh? That is a huge dream! But if you work at it, I have no doubt you will achieve it.

      We took an advanced life skills class earlier this year before the summer and we practiced that kind of thing a lot. Shiva did improve at leaving the food as long as I was 100% focused on her. As soon as she felt me relax even slightly, she was right on top of the liver treats the trainer had scattered throughout the room. I am not sure I have what it takes to train this behaviour perfectly. If there was one thing I learned from that class, it was the Shiva will always, always, always eat the poison. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but eventually, she will get it.

      Good luck with your training!

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  30. I’d have ripped it out of Dewi’s (JF would have dropped it) slimy mouth, too. Not worth the potential gastrointestinal disaster. No way.

    Also, remember, dogs can sleep soundly on rocks (even if their pizza got snatched).

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  31. I think at some point – their instinct and will is stronger than their training 🙂 Cali has excellent recall – unless she is off before I see what she is running after . . and it makes me SO MAD. But we are only human, and they are only canine . . all we can do is try to understand each other 😉

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  32. You might think this is a stupid suggestion but if you want to keep Shiva safe from eating rubbish you could muzzle her while training her on walks? As in, her leave it is great at home, so while working on it on walks you could get the training in without having to worry about her getting at crap first. But then there is the stigma attached to having a dog who is wearing a muzzle. I’ve considered getting one for Frankie, not because he eats crap, but so he couldn’t kill any more possums. I hate killing. You want to try getting a dead possum out of the mouth of a dog who really wants to take his kill home in the car!! He never growls, would never bite me, but he clamps his jaw shut and just says nope, I wanna take it home! So we walk around until he can’t hang onto it any more, finally puts it down and I quickly drag him away from it. You can’t do that with pizza though! He doesn’t bear any grudges either:)

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  33. We have been in your situation many times. We have neighbors who dump their leftovers on the side of the road directly across from my house. What is wrong with people??!!! I could go on forever about these neighbors, but I digress….. we no longer walk that way 🙂

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