Walking dog with toy or stick in mouth – creating a need or unharmful?

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sourced from: https://www.reddit.com/r/Dogtraining/comments/jw98dr/walking_dog_with_toy_or_stick_in_mouth_creating_a/

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Hello, First of all, thank you in advance.

We have two dogs. A lab and a pitbull. Lab is 6 years old and very well socialized, doesn't bark at people or dogs, plays well with others, isn't fearful of other dogs.

The pitbull, on the other hand, is a rescue and not well socialized (like at all) and almost 4 years old. We're working on socializing but in the mean time, he will get anxious if he sees a dog, will bark (at dogs and humans he finds threatening or unusual) and if he's not on a leash (say, because he's shitting in ou yard), will lunge toward any dogs he hears, barking and then freezing up and getting bit by the dog(s) he sprinted up to.

On walks, at first, he'll often be whining and trying to drag us, he'll be very anxious even before going out the door. He'll gain confidence over time and on the way back, he'll almost always be on his best behavior and confident.

Now, here's our question. We went hiking with him and he picked up a stick on the trail and as he was walking with the stick, he was very confident, walking past people and dogs minding his own business, calm, stick in mouth. It was great. Since then, we have repeated the experiment on a few occasions and same result.

Therefore, should we keep giving him big sticks to walk with or could that create a need for something he doesn't actually need? Could it eventually lead to him being anxious if he doesn't have a stick or toy in mouth while walking or should we go all in with that?

Thank you for your advice!

submitted by /u/Phlegmaticus
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