How to teach a dog or puppy not to chase or mouth brooms or mops

on April 27, 2012
Puppies are very curious and playful and can develop undesirable behaviors if not taught. One is chasing or mouthing brooms or mops. The key is to teach impulse control. Here are instructions on how to solve this problem by replacing it with a desirable behavior. This was written specifically for a owner of a puppy, but owners of adult dogs who have this problem can hopefully benefit from this too.
Step 1) Calmness walking by the broom/mopBegin by having your dog on leash (preferably with the leash attached to a harness, if you have one) and with a handful of treats and your mop or broom nearby. Put the mop on the ground and walk your puppy by it, dropping treats for him/her staying calm. If your puppy can’t stay calm, increase your distance from the broom, then work your way up as your dog succeeds. Once your dog can calmly walk next to the stationary broom, you’re ready for step two.

Step 2) Calmness with slight movements with the broom

Begin with distance if necessary. With your dog on leash, have a helper make a small movement with the broom, before your puppy has a chance to think about biting or chasing it, pop a treat in his/her mouth. Repeat this a few times, then feed your puppy the treat one second after the broom movement, repeat several times. Increase the time between the broom moving and your dog receiving his/her reward for being calm.

If you had to start with distance, slowly decrease the distance as your dog succeeds.

Step 3) More broom movement

Slowly increase the broom movement (starting with distance if necessary). As your dog is succeeding, start to make more of a sweeping motion, feeding your puppy a treat every time.

Step 4) Lessen rewards
Begin to lessen the rewards, giving your puppy a treat for every 2-3 times for being calm with the broom is moved. Continue to increase the movement until you can sweep or mop and your puppy doesn’t seem to care at all.

Prevention and Management:
Solving an undesirable behavior involves several layers, not only do you train the absence of it to take its place, but you also have to use prevention and management so your dog doesn’t practice the undesirable behavior out of a training session. Use prevention and management in your case, by putting the broom away or out of reach from your puppy (if he will attack it when it is stationary), have your puppy in his/her crate or in another room when you have to use the mop or broom. This way, your puppy won’t practice the undesirable behavior and your training efforts will make a difference.

Other tips:
– Don’t encourage this behavior – never incise your puppy to chase or bit the broom.
– Don’t yell at your puppy, this increases the excitement and drive to attack the broom.
– Use tasty treats, I like to use cheese and meat.
– Be patient
– The key to success is to go at your dog’s pace – don’t rush through the steps.

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