Teaching a Dog Respect and Manners

File photo. 

The dog trainer is in to answer your questions. Alexandra Macias, owner and operator of the Long Beach-based Alex Macias dog training, will be sitting down and answering readers’ pet-related questions. 

Hi Alex,

Our new puppy, Dublin, keeps trying to steal our other dog’s toys while she’s chewing them. Our other dog growls, but then eventually gives in, and lets Dublin take the toy. How can we teach Dublin some manners, and do we need to worry about our other dog becoming aggressive?


Hi Karen,

Sounds like Dublin needs a reminder of his manners. I would start off by teaching him the “leave it” command. Once he has it down solid, you will be able to tell him, “Leave it!” as he goes to steal your other dog’s toy. Here’s how to teach the command:

  1. Begin by having a treat in your open hand.
  2. Place your hand in front of Dublin.
  3. When Dublin starts to go after the treat, close your hand.
  4. Tell him to “leave it” ONCE, and wait for him to give up trying to get the treat.
  5. Once he gives up, praise him, and let him have the treat.
  6. Repeat these steps until he gives up immediately once you say “leave it.”
  7. Once Dublin has mastered leaving the treat in your hand, move up to putting the treat on the floor.
  8. Place the treat on the floor in front of Dublin.
  9. When he goes after the treat, quickly cover the treat with your hand.
  10. Tell him to “leave it” ONCE.
  11. Once he stops trying to get the treat from under your hand, praise him, and let him have the treat.
  12. Repeat these until he immediately leaves the treat alone when you say the command.

Once he has mastered leaving the treats on the floor, and you do not need to continue covering the treat with your hand, practice “leave it” with items he tends to go after (your other dog’s toys.)

When it comes to your other dog’s behavior, if she is just growling, and not escalating it past that, I would say she’s probably ok—for now. If Dublin continues to push her, she may get tired of it. The best way for a new puppy to learn boundaries with other dogs is from the other dogs themselves. So don’t come down too tough on your other dog if she’s just growling. However, if Dublin is not listening to her warnings, you may need to step in. This is where that “leave it” command will really come in handy. Good luck! WOOF!


Alexandra (Alex) Macias has been a certified Dog Trainer and Behavior Specialist since 2008, and is the owner of Alex Macias Dog training, a Long Beach-based dog training company. To ask Alexandra questions for a future article, leave them in the comments below, or email her at   [email protected]

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