Trading “high value treats” to a dog when the dog has something they shouldn’t have trains a dangerous pattern of behavior. This training process is called “conditioning a response”. It can get WAY out of hand. I’m not sure when dog trainers started making this suggestion to clients but it has caused loads of dangerous situations, human bites, and I’m sure a pile of euthanaized dogs. Frequently, a dog will make a job out of stealing things which they know will solicit the treat dispensing response from the owner. The owner recognizes the dog has something naughty, the dog takes a stand lords over the object, the high value treats are presented. If the dog is hip to this game their behavior escalates. Maybe they flash their teeth at you at first then later they let out a low growl. Often the owner is very scared, mad, talking loudly, and excitedly rushing into the dog’s space in order to wrestle that object away. This is a particularly frightening experience when the dog gets a hold of something high in value to begin with. If they’ve got the thanksgiving turkey, what’s your big plan? You gonna take a trip to the store and pick them up a steak? This dangerous situation needs to be addressed in a board and train. During a board and train, a new pattern of behavior needs to be trained and reinforced by a professional balanced trainer. No we don’t set the dog up and correct the bejesus out of the dog when they guard an object. We actually crate the dog when they’re not actively training, we train a calm pattern of behavior, and spend time ensuring the dog fully understands all of basic and advanced obedience. Then later, we test out the training during a “proofing” process to ensure the dog relies on their more recently established pattern of behavior instead of the inadvertently reinforced guarding behavior. The goal is to make sure the dog knows what behavior is expected of them, and that they will be calmly held accountable for unwanted behavior. The calmness in training is very crucial. The dog trainer takes the emotional unbalance out of the situation, so it’s just a straight forward learning process.