Romanian dogs can be very precious, if not protective of their food due to their pasts as street dogs. Food was scarce and they had to protect everything they found otherwise another dog or animal would take it from them.
At the rescue centre, the dogs never see us taking things away from them, instead they see us perform a swap – even for their empty bowls. If a dog sees human hands taking things away, they can begin to guard their food or belongings from us in fear that we will take them. The trick is to have them associate human hands with bringing nice things. Below is a guide to performing a positive swap with a dog. This can be used if they get hold of items in the home that you do not want them to have.
Remember: if dog is not giving the item up, do not attempt to take it. Let the dog have it – never fight with a dog, they have a powerful bite and can cause a lot of damage. ANY dog, not just Romanian dogs have the potential to guard food/items from people.
Performing a swap
❖ If the dog has got hold of something you don’t want them to have, we need to swap for something that is higher value to the item they have got. Do not panic or act impulsively by trying to put your hands in their mouth, this is a bite risk waiting to happen. There is not much point in trying to swap for a dry gravy bone as this would be less appealing than the item they have. We would recommend using cheese, chicken, ham, hot dog or sausage for a swap.
❖ To get the dog’s attention break a piece of the cheese/chicken etc. off and throw it towards them for them to investigate.
❖ Once they have eaten the piece you have thrown towards them, drop another piece a little further away from them to follow, then throw another piece a further and safe distance away from the item they had.
❖ Once the dog has completely moved away from the item then you can retrieve it. It would be even better if you could throw the treat through a door and close the door to prevent the dog coming back for the item as you are trying to retrieve it.
❖ Pick the item up and move it way from the dog’s reach. Do this with bowls, toys, bones or Kongs if you need to retrieve them from the dog. Never just take them, always perform a swap.
❖ Don’t put your hands in a dog’s bowl or mess with them when eating.
❖ Don’t stroke a dog when its eating – this could lead them to turn and snap at you.
❖ Don’t reach into their bed whilst they are in there to retrieve items.
❖ Don’t put your hands in a dog’s mouth.
❖ Don’t pull treats or toys off of a dog, swap for something else at all times.