I sometimes regale my dear readers with tales of my puppy. Let me do so, again.
My dog has a habit of willfully putting some seriously disgusting things into his own mouth. Things that could not taste good by any stretch of the imagination. (I'm looking at you, cat box.) One thing that he has done, since the beginning of his little puppy history is carry our socks around in his mouth.
Not just our socks. Our sweaty, just-got-off-a-nine-hour-shift-where-I-delivered-pizza-in-the-rain-and-my-sneakers-are-old-and-leaky socks. Our I-had-to-peel-this-off-my-foot-then-wipe-my-hands-on-a-towel-because-they-are-so-sweaty socks. In short, the worst things that could ever come off a human foot. He snaps them up and trots around the house with them delicately poised in his jaws.
We usually give him the "Drop!" command, in exasperation. Invariably, they will end up in his mouth once more. So today, I took a different approach. When my gross post-work socks ended up in his mouth, I led him into the bedroom and to the laundry hamper. I gave him the "Come!" command until his head was over the basket, then I gave him the "Drop!" command.
Then I praised him.
My dog is smart. He responds best to food and second to attention. He scooped up another sock and we repeated the process. By that time, he was gallivanting around the room with his coptersniffer (my dog sniffs so hard he literally sounds like a helicopter) and searching for those tasty bits. I took him back into the other room and had him grab the last sock, then once again praised him when he dropped it in the hamper.
As there were no more socks on the floor, he did the next logical thing: he tried to dump over the hamper so we could play again. He received a stern "No!" and immediately went into the "Heel" position, to let me know he was behaving.
It's only the first step, but an important one - maybe we can turn this odd and negative (as we usually have to yell at him to drop the socks) situation into a positive one.
A praised dog can go a long way towards a clean house.