Thursday, January 15, 2009

Training Tip Thursday: Teaching your Dog to "Leave It"

Teaching a dog to "Leave it" comes in very handy, especially for those dogs/puppies who always have to have something in their mouth (aka oral fixation, boredom, attention seeking… call it what you want right?).

Most people impulsively yell “No” or “the dog’s name” in an attempt to get the dog to leave it, but the problem with that is, quite often “No” is used more often than the dogs name, and is intended to have 100 definitions….everything is a “NO!”

I find it very useful to teach a dog the “leave it” trick, which basically means that before the dog gets to the object (or shows interest in something he / she really wants), you tell them to “leave it”. They would then have to defer, or move away from the object.

This can get a bit confusing, but I often start with treats I am certain my dog will like, but hasn't had before. So to get your dog started on the "Leave It" trick, follow these steps.

Step 1: Cover the treat and watch for dog to show all sorts of interest in it. He/she may offer you all sorts of behaviors (Make a note of these, there may be ones you could use for future tricks).

Step 2: Just as the dog backs off, losses interest, or gives up (may happen very fast), say “good” and reward him/her with a small piece of the treat. Repeat step two a few times, before introducing the verbal cue “leave it.”

Step 3: When you are ready to introduce the verbal cue, tell your dog to “leave it” and watch for dog to look up at you, back up, move away or anything but show interest and determination in the covered treat. Immediately say "good" and then reward.

This exercise moves very fast. Watch Brady’s video below. This is at the point where he recognizes the cue and is beginning to associate the behavior. Look how far we got with him just in minutes.! The goal at this point would be stop this game, and start setting him up to practice in a real life setting.

REMEMBER: If you are going to tell your dog to leave something he/she really wants, you need to have a reason why (at least initially). So be prepared to ALWAYS reward. Also, it is absolutely imperative that if you are going to ask him/her to leave something, there should be no exceptions… otherwise your dog will challenge you later on. In their mind, sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t, but it sure is worth the try.

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT for you and your dog. Have fun at it.

Do you have a trick you want your dog to learn? Tell us about it here, and we might just show you how to do it on a future Doggy Tips Thursday!


Social Media Man said...

This has worked wonders for my dog! Now anytime I drop food on the floor, or my dog starts chewing on something, all I have to do is say "Leave It" and she doesn't touch it.

Definitely a must know trick for any dog owner!

Denise Zaldivar with IES said...

Wow! It was great reading your instructions and then watching the video! I will try this, definitely! I guess all of my dogs would benefit from it, especially my Lab and Bulldog, as they always like to pick up he baby's toys and chew on them!! Thanks, Teena!