Puppy playfully attacking the broom

Posted by thartley
Aug 12, 2009

We are unable to sweep the patio when our Labrador puppy is present. She tries to bite the broom whenever we try to sweep with it. If we accidentally leave the broom laying around, she likes to drag it around the yard. This scenario is not the same as the one mentioned in the book where the German Shepard is afraid of the broom.

The breeder we got her from used wood shavings in the kennel where the litter was kept. He would clean the shavings up using both a broom and a leaf blower. None of the puppies were scared of either of these methods. In fact, they would all stand at the inside of the kennel fence and enjoyed being blown by the leaf blower while the breeder was on the outside. The breeder would also take the broom and drag it back and forth along the outside of the fence. All the puppies would run back and forth chasing the broom. Of course this was quite amusing to everyone that observed it.

Unfortunately, I think the breeder inadvertently gave our puppy the desire to go after the broom. It seems to me that she is not scared of brooms because she doesn't cower - her behavior seems to be playful. I also noticed that if I put her in the house behind the sliding glass door and I sweep in front of that same door, the dog runs back and forth following the broom just like all the puppies did when the breeder dragged the broom against the kennel fence.

I imagine the solution is simple. However, other than removing her from the area, I haven't tried anything yet for fear of making matters worse. What do you suggest I do to train her to stop interfering with the sweeping?

Thank you,

Posted by LetsPlay
Aug 12, 2009
Hi Tom,

I smiled when I read your post. My Labrador puppy used to do exactly the same. Her breeder didn't have anything to do with it, it was just that she loved playing with whatever she could find.

Whenever my wife or I would get the vacuum cleaner out she would bounce around and bark at it. The noise, the movement - it was all just too exciting.

She is now 7 months old and when we vacuum or use the broom she just lies on the floor or on her blanket and watches us or even sleeps, no problem at all.

What I did was that every time I got the broom out and she got excited I would stop moving the broom around and say "no" to her.
As soon as she stopped bouncing around or pulling on the broom I would give her a treat.

I would then ask her to sit and stay and continue with the broom. Of course, the stay wouldn't last long, so I would stop, tell her "no" and give her a treat when she displayed the desired behavior. Now she knows that the broom is not a toy and she is supposed to leave it.

It's a good idea to get the broom out when you have some spare time and just practice calm behavior with your pup. It took us about 4-5 sessions over a few weeks before she understood that it really wasn't a game and then another 3-4 sessions before she was calm enough to not even get up to check the broom out.

They do learn right from wrong quickly, it's just a matter of being consistent and always giving them the same feedback. So the broom is never a toy, it's always off limits.

Of course, the other option is to only use the broom when she is inside the house or out of view or when someone else takes her for a walk, but I think it is much better to desensitize them, so that you can do whatever you need to do without the pup being a nuisance.

How old is your pup?

Let us know how you get on.
Posted by KOPsarah
Aug 12, 2009
Hi Tom and thanks for your post,
John's (letsplay's) advice is excellent. Desensitizing against objects that the dog likes to play with rather than is scared of is usually quickly effective. You can also redirect your dogs play behavior by offering your dog one of its own toys after treating instead of the broom. Encourage play with the other toy as well as any other behavior which involves ignoring the broom.

As John said consistency is the key. The broom should be totally off limits at all times and the dog should never be encouraged with laughter or other such reactions when it is interacting with the broom

Good luck. I'm sure you will soon be able to sweep in peace!
Posted by thartley
Aug 13, 2009
Thank you for the replies.

The dog is about 4 months old.

I hadn't tried the sit and stay while sweeping. She is learning both those commands. It seems that some days she knows them well, other days not so well.

I've had the same problem with the sprinkler, where she keeps trying to go after it while I'm attaching the hose. I can't even see what I'm doing because she is all over it and bumping into my hands.

I tried putting her on a sit/stay a couple of feet from the sprinkler yesterday, but the moment I started attaching the hose she was back at it. I tried it about three times and finally gave up and just hooked it up.

Since she is a Lab and they all seem to love water, I've had to keep her in the house while the sprinkler is running so far, otherwise she gets more water than the lawn. I guess that's the next thing to work on - leaving the sprinkler alone while it's running.

Lots of little things to train her on besides the usual obedience training...
Posted by thartley
Oct 14, 2009
Our dog is now six months old. The few times I've used the broom since my last post, I've put her on a sit-stay. It works for thirty seconds or so before she goes for the broom. I've since discovered she also has an affinity for shovels.
Posted by KOPsarah
Oct 15, 2009
Hi again,
The training will be most effective if your dog sees the broom and does the training every day or even several times a day at first. You can even train with the shovel and broom alternately to work on both. I had a similar situation with my dog who loved to chase the lawn mower which was not ideal in terms of time taken to mow the lawn or safety. Regular exposure to the mower, using an "AHH" sound to correct then redirecting with a command then a game as a reward solved the problem quickly and he no longer has any particular interest in the mower.