Home > Daisy, Puppy Mills > Drop It Daisy! A look back

Drop It Daisy! A look back

Various 2008 018Today I am taking another look back to the early years when Daisy came to live with me.  This is an old blog post from Daisy’s blog, “Daisy the Wonder Dog (and how she found her inner Lab).” It highlights the progress Daisy had made after I adopted her in 2007.

I think it is a good reminder for those who have a damaged or unsocialized dog. Progress can be made. It takes time and patience and often happens in fits and starts – for every step forward, there are two steps back, but it is so rewarding when you start to take those steps forward.  The key is to never give up hope. You need a lot of patience and understanding. You also need learn to learn to celebrate the small successes.

Sometimes another dog can help the unsocialized dog to feel more comfortable. Aspen helped Daisy understand that humans could be kind and trustworthy and Jasper taught Daisy how to have fun.

This post is from two posts done on February 6 and February 20 of 2010, a little over three years after Daisy first came to live with me.

When I first took Daisy on as a foster, I wanted to focus on building trust and training her in the basic commands in hopes it would help her  get adopted into a nice home with a nice family. But as the days passed, it soon became clear that the basic commands would have to wait until I could build trust with her and get her to look me in the eye. A very scary prospect for my girl.

During the first few days she spent with me, I just allowed Daisy to “be”. I wanted her to become used to her new surroundings first; to get used to all the sights, sounds and smells that surrounded her in her new home. I did not expose her to any new experiences (besides the house and the yard). We did not go to the dog park right away. We did not take a jaunt to Petsmart. We didn’t even go for walks because Daisy was so afraid of me touching her collar and because of that would often pull out of it.

Instead, I gave Daisy some space and time. I needed her to feel comfortable before we could focus on doing anything else. Once she felt more comfortable, we began with one of the most basic commands… “watch me”.

I thought starting with that command would be easier for Daisy since she had already seen me and my dog, Aspen, practicing it many times.  She had been paying very close attention to the treats Aspen got each time she performed the behavior for me (food is a true motivator Daisy). I also figured that if I could get her to make eye contact with me it would be much easier to work with her on the other commands, like sit, down, come and drop it , and it turned out I was right. Once Daisy learned “watch me” from Aspen, she quickly learned “sit” and “down” and “come” by watching Aspen respond to the same commands followed by a treat.

The one command I waited to implement was “drop it” – at least until recently.

I had tried this command before, back when I was teaching Daisy to “sit” and “come”, but every time I tried to work with her on this command she reacted as if I was scolding her or that I was upset with her (and this was with me using a happy and positive voice). A side-effect of this fearful reaction to “drop it” was her regressing in all her other previously learned behaviors as well.  So, I decided to back off this command until Daisy felt safer with me and began to understand that I wasn’t upset with her.

Recently, we revisited this command and this time with great success!

Like most Labs, Daisy has a habit of grabbing a toy, her dish (or whatever is within reach) and carrying it around in her mouth when she is nervous or excited. I can almost guarantee that when I come home from work I will find Daisy carrying something in her mouth, usually her “Woobie.”

Often, when I let her out to go potty, she takes a toy with her and almost always leaves it in the yard. After numerous times of finding toys out in the yard, and spending a lot of time picking them up, I decided it was time to learn “drop it”.

We started with me approaching her and giving her a treat in exchange for the toy. This worked pretty well. Daisy would often drop the toy before I even got close enough to exchange the treat for her toy. Did I mention she loves treats? As she got used to getting treats for dropping the toy, I introduced the word “drop it.” Every time she did so she got a treat. Eventually, I was able to decrease the number of treats she got for dropping her toy until she reached a point where she was doing it on command and not for the treat itself. Now I say drop it and Daisy automatically drops it and we head outside.

I soon found out that this command would come in handy. One day after speaking with a client, I set my Bluetooth earpiece on the coffee table and walked away to go get ready for the dog park. I came back a few minutes later to discover it was missing. Did I misplace it? Did it fall? Where did it go? After searching for it everywhere, I finally looked up to see Daisy pacing back and forth excitedly, tail wagging like crazy.

Usually when Daisy is excited and starts pacing she has a toy in her mouth, but not that day. Hmmmmmm….. Could SHE have picked up my earpiece ?? “Nah!” I thought. She usually doesn’t touch anything on the coffee table.

And yet…

“Drop it Daisy”, I said. And then, like a gift, Daisy dropped my Bluetooth on the floor. God bless her! I just laughed and laughed and laughed. Silly Daisy. She had me giggling all day about that one.  Thank God I taught her “drop it” or I might never have seen my Bluetooth again!


Categories: Daisy, Puppy Mills
  1. June 20, 2013 at 6:05 AM

    I love reading about your successes with Daisy, I can relate them to my own with Lacy.
    The one thing that I have made very little progress with is brushing her. If I approach her with anything in my hand she panics and hides behind something. I have tried many different approaches including letting her sniff it and just petting her with the brush next to me while giving her treats. As soon as she gets a chance she will run in fear. Being a German Shepherd grooming is something that must be done quite often.
    I will keep trying to find new ways to approach this, but it is a challenge.

    • Mel
      June 20, 2013 at 6:30 AM

      Carole – Daisy hates to be brushed too. She will run as soon as she can. Labs need it less, but when her fur sheds the most I need to brush it out. I try to just do a little at a time, let her walk away and sniff for a while, then do a little more. Maybe you could get to the point where Lacy will eat treats off the brush? Or, when the brush is just sitting on her back? I can completely relate to how hard it is for both you and her.

  2. June 20, 2013 at 6:30 AM

    hat is such a cute story Mel! Leroy does the same thing when he’s excited, usually he grabs shoes or something big but once he grabbed a pool ball off the pool table. I was so afraid he was going to swallow it, luckily he dropped it when I told him too, after about the 4th time!

  3. June 20, 2013 at 7:20 AM

    As always, great to read these old stories about Daisy – I always learn things to help Maggie. Maggie, unlike many labs doesn’t like things in her mouth – she won’t pick up a toy or a ball or anything. Even larger treats – like a carrot, she doesn’t like to take from my hand – prefers that I put it on the floor for her. Still a ways to go on some things with her. But certainly having a 2nd dog really helps. She is so much more comfortable doing anything when Jack is around.

  4. June 20, 2013 at 7:33 PM

    Oh, you were so lucky! I was not so lucky with mine when Sage was a puppy…..

    • Mel
      June 20, 2013 at 10:13 PM

      Oh no! Really? Yikes! Did it require surgical removal too? I sure hope not!

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