Leave it – Further Steps

Leave it – Further Steps

Once your dog knows that when you say “leave it!” to the treat enclosed in your fist (see the post “Leave it! A Good First Step”) he can expect a tasty treat from your other hand, it is a fairly simple process to have him shift his attention to your face instead. Practise the exercise with the biscuit in your closed fist held out in front of you and the piece of wiener in your other hand up by your forehead. Now after you have said “leave it” and your dog shifts his focus to your other hand, which is up by your face, you have his full attention. If your dog has been taught to sit in order to ask for things politely, he will most likely automatically sit at this point, which is excellent. (If your dog hasn’t been taught to sit and say please in this manner, you may want to seriously consider teaching him this before moving on to more difficult skills such as “leave it”.) Once he is sitting, give him the tasty wiener treat. You can practise having him sit for longer periods of time as well, such as five or even ten seconds.

Now you can move on to a more challenging step. You can do this inside or outside. Before the training session (out of your dog’s sight), place an interesting object, such as a small pile of dog biscuits, or even a pile of smelly socks, where your dog will see it. You will still need enticing treats on hand for this step, such as bits of hot dog wiener. Put your dog on a leash and then walk in the vicinity of the object, close enough that he sees it but not close enough that he can reach it with his mouth as you approach. Once your dog has spied the object and is walking purposefully toward it to investigate, say “leave it”. If your dog pulls against the leash to try to get at the object, stop walking and wait for him to look back at you and sit politely. When he does, give praise and a wiener treat from your handy bag. Then continue walking forward, past the object, but still just out of range of it. It is important that your dog cannot actually reach the object at this point, for if he does manage to scoop up a biscuit or snuffle those socks, he has rewarded himself for grabbing something off the ground.

If your dog is determined to get at the object and continues to pull at the leash, ignoring your “leave it” command, walk in the opposite direction so that he must follow you. Once away from the object, have him sit politely and look at you, then give him a treat. Try walking past the obstacle once again. If he continues to pull toward the object, you may need to go back to the beginning and practise step one again.

In future posts we will take a look at even more “leave it” challenges for your dog.