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For many pets, having a “Trade” routine is a great way to help reduce resource guarding and increase safety.

Goal

You say “Trade” and your dog or cat leaves the object and comes to eat the treats (or take the toy) you are offering in trade. You approach the dropped item to pick it up, and then reward your pet again in the same location as the first reward. You avoid crowding your pet’s space.

You’ll Need

Objects your pet can interact with of varying value, moderate to high value treats or toys that they are not likely to guard

Training Steps

  • Teach your pet that “Trade” means good stuff!
    • With no toys/objects out yet, say “NAME, trade!” and toss treats (or a toy, you can use either for this as long as your consultant said it was okay!) on the ground away from both you and your pet. Repeat at least 5 times. Your pet should be actively going to eat/play with the reward. (If not, try finding a different treat they are interested in.)
  • Teach your pet to “Trade” a low value object
    • Give your dog a mildly interesting object to interact with. Wait for them to investigate it a bit. (Don’t choose something they’re likely to guard yet!)
    • Say the phrase, “NAME, trade!” then toss the treats away from both you and your pet. They should have to walk away from you and the object to get the treats. (But it’s okay if they carry it with them for now.) Let them eat the treats/have the toy.
    • Repeat several times, until your pet is readily running to get the treats.
  • Add in your part!
    • As your pet eats the thrown treats, approach and pick up the object. As soon as you do, toss another treat (or more) back towards your pet (the same location you threw them before).
    • Watch your pet’s body language: if you see even mild signs of stress/tension/guarding, stop this part and let your consultant know. Let your pet satiate themselves on it and retrieve it later when they’re not in the area.
  • Gradually increase the object’s value¬†
    • As your pet is successful, you can start to use higher value objects. (Success = willingly and enthusiastically comes away from an object to trade!)
    • You can also increase the value of the treats or toys you’re using.

Suggested Training Plan

  • 1 to 5 repetitions at a time.
  • Every other day while actively learning
  • Once a week for maintenance

Troubleshooting

  • Watch your pet’s body language: if you see even mild signs of stress/tension/guarding, stop this part and let your consultant know. Let your pet satiate themselves on it and retrieve it later when they’re not in the area.