"Properly trained, man can be a dog's best friend" ~ Corey Ford
LEAVE IT (stationary exercise)
Teaching your dog to “leave it” will help improve your dog’s impulse and self-control and is something we often underestimate the importance of. Yet, impulse and self-control are needed in order for a dog to successfully live with us in our world filled with expectations and rules. For example, it requires impulse control to NOT jump on a visitor, to NOT pull on the leash, to NOT run after the squirrel, to NOT steal the food out of the child’s hand, even though it is right in our dog’s nose height. Therefore this “Leave It” exercise is always included in my curriculum for my Puppy class as well as Basic Manner class.
Take five minutes every day and work on this exercise until your dog successfully understands the concept of “leave it” while you have treats on the floor.
If you run out of treats in your right hand, release your dog from the training by saying "free" and give him a break while you prepare with a new handful of treats.
Short, successful sessions are always best. Take your time with this exercise. Spend several days working through the steps.
It is crucial that your dog does NOT have any success trying to steal a treat out of your hand. Remember, a dog will continue the behavior that works for him. This means that if your dog has continuous success in “stealing” the treat out of your hand, it is harder for him to learn that by leaving the treats alone he will get them faster.
No verbal corrections are needed. You only need to say marker word “yes”, the release word “free” and verbal praise, such as “good boy”.
Do not add your verbal cue “leave it” until your dog has fully understood the concept of leaving the treats alone. We are looking for 80-90% compliance rate, before adding any verbal cue.
To test (proof) the behavior and your dog’s understanding of this exercise, try to see if you can stand up, while leaving a treat on the floor. Will your dog still leave the treat alone? If yes, mark with”yes” and give your dog the treat. If not and he tries to eat it, quickly move your foot on top of treat to prevent the dog being successful in eating the treat!
When he masters this exercise, can you drop a treat on the floor and he will still leave it alone?
Can he leave his favorite toy alone? A bone? A piece of paper? A pill?
Keep thinking of new scenarios to help test your dog’s ability to leave things alone on the floor.
Video: Click here to watch video
(Please notice that in the video, I do not show the first step with the two treats in my left hand. I had already worked with Two Dot for about 5 minutes and wanted to make sure we kept the video fairly short)
Now that your dog understands “Leave it” while being in a stationary position, the next step is to teach your dog to “leave it” when walking by the temptation. This is an increase in difficulty for your dog and an exercise that again needs to be taught step by step to help make your dog make good decisions.
As a dog trainer and animal lover, my wish is to help educate the owners, so they can have a harmonious relationship with the animal(s) in their lives. A relationship based on knowledge, trust and respect.