When walking my 4 month old puppy, how can I prevent him from picking up sticks, stones, and leaves?

My 4 month old lab retriever did fine with loose leash walking for the past couple of months.

However, he's recently picked up a bad habit. He now always has his head down to sniff - and when he's within reach of a branch, stick, stone, leaf, pebbles, tanbark, etc. - he picks it up to chew it and eat it. Because of this, he's started pulling the leash again so he can get to where those items are located on the sidewalk or lawn.

I always have to stop, say NO, and remove it from his mouth. Then I stop, wait for a few seconds, and continue walking. If he continues, the waiting time is extended or I take him back into the house. I've tried a spray bottle, which works but I don't want to keep the bottle with me ALL the time.

He just recently started doing this after a neighbor's puppy shared a stick and pinecone with him while we were chatting on a nearby lawn.

How can I get him to stop this behavior?

Asked by Butters on Aug 10th 2010 Tagged leashwalking, impulsecontrol in Leash Walking
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One solution would be to redirect his attention to something more interesting. Instead of bringing a spray bottle, bring along one or two of his favorite toys and play the drop it/take it game. Whenever he picks up something in his mouth, ask him to "drop it" and discontinue the walk until he does. When he does, praise and hand him a toy, saying "take it." Play with him a little with the toy, then end playtime without much fuss and continue walking. If he picks up another item, just repeat.

Lassie answered on 8/10/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


I would be more concerned if a 4 month old Lab DID NOT pick anything up. Let him have his prize, and keep moving! If he falls behind he gets an automatic correction, as he should.

If you stop, take the stuff away, wait, then he's taking control of the walk - not the way it works

I think if he has time to find stuff, you're walking too slow, he's bored of the walk and looking for something more interesting. At 4 months he should be able to walk a mile in 15 minutes. Stopping is up to you. I give potty break at begining and end of a 3 mile walk - no other stops (my dogs are over 1 year though).

Sonny answered on 8/10/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer



At this age, it's pretty normal for them to orally try all the things in the world.
It is interesting and a way for them to find out what is good and not so good.
I have the same issues until they pass the teething process and then for the first year they continue to use those chompers. :)
I found the best thing to do is not walk young pups and keep the yard clean. I rake alot, also buying various toys of various shapes and material help. I make good use of kiddie pools too. They usually chew them up to by the end of the season. :)

Dieta answered on 8/11/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


I agree - teach your dog the "leave it" and "drop it" commands.

Start off easy by doing this at home in a low-distraction environment with treats. For "leave it," you can begin by holding a treat tightly in your hand, letting puppy sniff but not take, and saying "leave it." As soon as pup stops trying to get at the treat, say "yes!" and let him have the treat. Gradually increase the time he has to leave it to get his reward, and eventually move to putting the treat on the floor (though I wouldn't recommend having him pick it off the floor as his reward - give him a treat from you hand). You can replace the treats with sticks too and have pup "leave it."

For "drop it," begin by trading your puppy for whatever he has in his mouth. If he has a stick, say "drop it" and offer him a higher value item in exchange.

Eventually, you can say "leave it" and pup should stop tugging on walks to get at things. If he does get it in his mouth, you can get him to "drop it." Good luck!

Nurunji answered on 8/13/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer