Dogs, especially puppies are notorious for putting things in their mouths and often eating them which is why teaching a dog the “leave it” command is so very important. Back when I was in puppy school in Germany, our teacher taught us the “leave it” command and we found it pretty easy to master using her technique.
- The human needs a reward/distractor. We use food, but if your dog is into tennis balls or a favorite toy, that would work just as well.
- For training you need some items your dog will want to ingest, maybe food, a scrunchy, whatever isn’t too large but you know they will attempt to grab. ***This way of teaching won’t work on large items or things like cow pies, you will see why a bit later in my post.***
- A human foot with a shoe is very important!
- Your dog should be on a short least, three to four feet long.
- A good voice to say “leave it” and then offer lots of loving praise.
- The dog who needs to learn the “leave it” command. Bailie was horrible about eating everything she found as a puppy. She ate anything and everything, so she desperately needed to learn this command!
Training can start in the house or out on the road, wherever you think would work better for you. Lay out the items ahead of time, grab your treats or toy, and get the dog walking on leash like nothing is up.
Immediately get out the treats or toy and reward your dog giving her a ton of praise. At this point, the item the dog wanted to eat has “disappeared”, and they are happy and distracted by the treats or toy.
Get back to the walk and the dog should ignore the item on the ground, if not, repeat the procedure. It is best to use a small area and stage the scene using small items when you first start to teach the command. Always choose items your dog is never allowed to have or they will be confused. Do this for short periods of time over a few days and the dog should catch on. Slowly start to expand the area and eventually you can leave the “ground” items home and go with whatever happens to be lying in your path.
Bailie was not real good in her obedience class, but she was the dog most likely to eat stuff on the floor, and she was also the only dog who really mastered the “leave it” command. We hear leave it on our walks all the time, and it works 95% of the time. It can really be an important command if your dog is about to eat something dangerous! We haven’t seen it taught this way in the dog schools here, so I wanted to share this simple method with my friends. Good luck!
I’m joining thePositive Reinforcement Training Week hosted by Cascadian Nomads, Rubicon Days & Tenacious Little Terrier Please hook up with blog posts, comments, and/or social media shares and conversations about the challenges of training. Any positive reinforcement pet training is welcome on the hop.