Q: My ten month old Labrador is coming on well in most respects but he’s reluctant to let go of the dummy when he brings it to hand. How do I go about taking it from him? I don’t want to get into a wrestling match, but I would like to know the best way of getting him to open his mouth and let go. Any suggestions?

A: Getting into a wrestling match is the worst possible thing you could do with this dog. He needs to be treated carefully.

You do not say if this is a kennel dog or one that lives in the home, if it’s the latter then it might have become possessive over items picked up in the house, and is reluctant to let go.

What you need to do is get the dog to sit quietly in front then get him to offer up the dummy by carefully placing one hand under his bottom jaw. Now, and very gently, use a thumb and finger on the other hand to lightly open the dog’s mouth and with a lot of praise take the dummy from its mouth. As you do so, use the word ‘dead’.

It is never usually long before a dog realises that it will be praised for giving up the dummy when it hears the ‘dead’ command. Consistency is everything in dog training so make sure you keep up the exercise to avoid the dog returning to old habits.