Virginia Simpson and Chance

Ask The Trainer

Leave those berries alone!


I love to walk my blue heeler in our neighborhood. In the late summer/early fall, there are berries starting to fall from trees. I am not sure what kind they are, but she loves to try to eat them. She seems to be pretty successful at it. I have done everything short of carrying her through these areas with berries. Here are my questions. Are they harmful? How can I get her to stop eating them? 

I walked her on Sunday and it seems like she has been pretty lethargic since then. She has also had gas. She doesn't seem to have problems going to the bathroom or eating. I am not sure if it's the berries or the weather change. Please help!     ~ Ashley



Hi Ashley,

 Thank you for your inquiry!

I have berries everywhere too.  However, I can’t be sure what you have there without seeing them unfortunately.   If she is still not feeling well, you might want to take her to the vet and get her checked out to make sure everything is ok.  Take some of the berries with you too and see if the vet can recognize them.  Best thing to do if you don’t know what they are and whether or not they are harmful to your pup is obviously to avoid them altogether.   So, this is a great time to teach and practice good leash manners and the “leave it” command.  Walking politely on the leash requires some practice and good technique.  If you are needing some help with this, a lesson or two with a trainer might be beneficial to get things moving quickly. 

To teach “leave-it”, I will start out with an item that the dog is interested in, but not overly so.  Set it on the ground and when your dog goes towards it, hold your hand up, step towards the item and say “leave-it”.  If your dog still moves towards it, use the leash to guide her away from the item.  Stop and ask for a sit, tell her “good leave-it” and then try it again until she is moving away from the item on her own.  Then start making the items more and more enticing.

One technique that I use with the leash and collar is a gentle “tug-release” maneuver.  I start out with low level distractions and master each one before moving on to the next one.  Once your pup is walking politely beside you with minimal distractions, you can then use the “tug-release” maneuver with your lease when you are walking by the berries and give a “leave-it” command.  Once you make it past the berries, stop, ask for a sit and then reward your pup with something yummy for a job well done!

I hope this information is helpful to you!  Please feel free to contact any time with any other questions.

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For more information, please feel free to contact:

Virginia L. Simpson, CDT
Unleashed Canine Obedience, LLC
4955 Creek Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45242